Eastside Elementary had a Friday afternoon program last year where students participated in fun activities during the final half hour of their school week. One of these groups was the Editor's Club, which produced the school's newspaper.
This year, the Friday program was eliminated, but the students in the Editor's Club didn't want to stop. So, with the support of the administration and the leadership of reading remediation teacher Sandy Doughman, the club continued.
There was no longer any school time for the meeting, so the club's core, Rhyanna Aikman, 11, Muriah Jones, 12, Jacqueline Richards, 11, Selena Tessenear, 11, Sydney Meindl, 11 and Angie Grande, 11, agreed to produce Panther Pages on their own time.
The students meet at 8:30 Monday mornings to brainstorm, and work on their stories on Media Center computers when they have finished lunch. Doughman considers them as freethinkers who come up with their own ideas to fill their pages.
"They have these creative minds," she said.
For example, in the February edition, Selena wrote a story describing her great fondness for jelly beans.
In the April issue, Muriah suggested reasons why her fellow students should do their homework.
In the December issue, Angie gave an in-depth description of the legend of candy canes.
But the Editor's Club does more than just put out the news. The club cares about others, and its children wanted to help other children, so they launched Magazine for Miracles. The students encouraged magazine subscription sales to benefit Children's Miracle Network, an organization that raises funds for children's hospitals.
Selling magazine subscriptions is not a normal activity for school newspapers, but, Doughman said, "They wanted to help others."
Since all the Editors Club members are fifth-graders, Doughman suspects the club will die with the exit of those students to middle school. Panther Pages only lasted this year because of the interest of the writers.
Muriah said she wanted to continue this year so she could "write about what's going on around the school; so you'll be noticed around everywhere."
Jacqueline said, "I wanted to be in Editor's Club because I knew you could learn from it."
Selena likes to be in the know and is in the club "because you get to learn first hand about everything that's going on."
Apparently Selena is an asset to the paper. "She uses big words," Jacqueline said.
Doughman agreed. "She's the three-syllable word girl," she said.
Sydney stayed with Panther Pages for lots of reasons. "I thought that it was really fun and interesting and you could go on the campus and find something that you might be writing about."
Angie is a newspaper fan and kept with it "cause it was fun and I like reading the paper," she said.
Rhyanna just went with the flow when she stayed with the club. "It was fun to write going room to room to ask kids how they feel about school," she said.
As students wind down their time as Editor Club members, they recalled some of their favorite stories. Rhyanna liked writing a poem about a teacher. Muriah's favorite was "Why you should do your homework."
Selena enjoyed when she did a review of the book, A Series of Unfortunate Events. And Sydney's favorite story was about the history of Betty Boop. "I love Betty Boop," she said.
The girls are considering what to put in the final issue and were tossing around writing tips to fifth-graders on how to survive middle school.
"Learn how to eat fast," Rhyanna said.
Selena suggested that they all be themselves. "A lot of kids try to be this other person," she said, "and it turns out bad."
And from Jacqueline, "Don't hang out in the bathrooms."
Words to live by.