At a time when newspapers everywhere are struggling to stay afloat, Deltona Elementary School is starting one.
The Deltona Dove Dispatch is new this year and under the direction of writing resource teacher for third and fourth grades, Brad Durspek, 37.
His eight staffers have already published for September - Volume 1: Issue 1. The October issue was well under way last week. The writers are Timothy Chavez, 11, Hailey Abston, 10, Angel Koeller, 11, Ciara Goethals, 11, Tucker Hollenbeck, 10, Christian Villano, 10, Jon Glasgow, 10, and Max Rashleigh, 10.
The students are all fifth-graders, because when Durspek put together the team, he recruited students he knew from last year when he was a fourth-grade teacher. For future issues, he will begin swapping students in and out to give more of them experience.
The paper has sections found in many professional news publications: current events, sports, movie reviews and spotlight interviews. It even has "Dear Dovey," an advice column.
The newspaper also includes a debate topic in a section called, "He Said, She Said." In September, the topic was "Should Deltona Elementary have school uniforms?"
Each month students in grades 1 through 5 are invited to participate in a writing contest. The winners are published.
There wasn't enough room in the September issue, but in the October one, the staff hopes to be able to add a fun and games page with a crossword puzzle, a word search and scrambled words.
The students work on the Dispatch before school starts. "They're here from 8:30 to 9 in the morning," Durspek said.
The writers seem to enjoy the extra work, evidenced by their willingness to come in early. Some of them gave their reasons for taking on the challenge.
"I decided to try it out," said Max, "and so far I really like it." Max is considering writing for a living. "I really thought I'd like to become an author. I really like expressing myself."
"I like writing and the concept of it," said Tucker. "I might end up actually joining a newspaper. I enjoy writing."
Angel was particularly enthusiastic about the project. "When I joined the newspaper, it was awesome," she said. "I met a lot of people who were in my class last year. We had some laughs. Mr. Durspek is awesome. It's been well here. We're mostly on task every day when we get here."