On Wednesday, March 16, the RamPage editors visited the staff of the J-DMS Times, Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School’s new monthly newspaper. After just a few months of publication, the staff already numbers 25. The paper is overseen by history teacher Andrew Starowicz. The Times, currently only in print, includes articles on topics relevant to middle school life and issues that affect the school.
According to Starowicz, “The main goal from the very start was to create a newspaper that would give the students an opportunity to write, edit, and take pictures before they get to the high school and the RamPage. I imagined the middle school newspaper as an avenue for writers, editors, and photographers to get their start before heading to the high school and working for the RamPage.”
“I love writing [for] the newspaper and I look forward to working on the RamPage in high school,” said Times writer Sofia Koenig (sixth grade).
Starowicz says that he is excited about the success the paper has achieved, and he is hopeful for the future. “The numbers of students that want to be a part of the newspaper [is the paper’s biggest success]. Currently, there are 25 students that are working for the newspaper. Our goal is to make the J-DMS Times a professional looking school newspaper. I believe that we are moving in the right direction to accomplish this goal.”
Sixth grader Shailyn Isaacs remarked, “I love writing for the newspaper! I get to do something I’m passionate about and I get to write about topics I want to. It’s a lot of fun, but Mr. Starowicz definitely makes it better by being an awesome teacher.”
Zoey Huseman (6): “It has been fun working with different people and my writing skills have improved.”
The ultimate goal of the J-DMS Times is to transform it into a digital newspaper. “Due to the many opportunities that students have at J-DMS (sports, music, science clubs, math team, etc.), it is difficult to start a new club. I did not want to take the kids away from the clubs that they were already participating in. The other big obstacle is getting the paper in a digital format. I envisioned the newspaper as a link on the J-DMS district homepage, but this has been much more challenging than I thought it would be,” said Starowicz.
Sixth grader Aditi Gornale stated, “I learned that I really enjoy putting together an article and I enjoy the end result.”
Going forward, Starowicz hopes to improve and streamline the J-DMS Times. “The hope is to continue to turn out a newspaper that the students will read. We want it to look professional, and we are hoping that it can be as professional looking and easy to navigate as the RamPage. Also, we would love for the paper to be a digital link on the J-DMS page by the end of this school year.”
Just a few months into its existence, the J-DMS Times has already proven to be one of the more successful clubs at the middle school. Aside from allowing its writers a creative outlet, it teaches them the value of journalism and journalistic standards that will allow the students to thrive in high school and beyond. Below are additional quotes from Times writers, as well as a link to the J-DMS Times February Edition.
Rachel Pettiford (6): “My experience with the J-DMS newspaper has been great! I’ve gotten to meet a ton of people and my writing skills have improved a ton. I will definitely keep doing it throughout middle school.”
Nicole Chen (8): “The school newspaper has been a good way to branch out and write differently. Originally, it was another extracurricular to add to my college applications but the environment has been wonderful. I hope to continue.”
Gwendolyn Holt (6): “I have always loved to write and this gives me an opportunity to show it.”
Udochukwu Okereke (7): “It’s been great being a part of the newspaper. There aren’t any set jobs for anyone yet, but I’ve taken pictures and I’m writing an article right now about the J-DMS Dialogue and Action group. I kind of like writing about things. Being in the newspaper has taught me how to work out time management. I’m in a lot of other programs and clubs, so I need to figure out how much time I need to start and finish something. I’ve gotten better at planning out the things I’m writing about too.”
Eloise Alexander (6): “The newspaper has been a wonderful experience. It has taught me a lot about writing and editing. I have always loved writing but Mr. Starowicz has made the journey even better.”
Carly Fisher (5): “I like everything about journalism, especially the creativity of it all.”
Layla Al-Mudamgha (6): “My experience has been amazing so far! I love writing in the paper. It is super fun! A couple of other students and I have done study tips [for the paper] and it’s super fun.”
Nozila Alibekova (6): “I write and edit for the newspaper. I have written three articles so far. I have improved on writing. I enjoy to see other people’s opinions [in the paper].”
Cate Wells (6): “My experience with the middle school newspaper has been fun. I’ve only been on the newspaper for a short time but I’ve already learned so much and I cannot wait to learn more.”
Meghan Malay (6): “My experience has been great and I have made new friends. [The newspaper] has taught me that I can do anything. I like that you can write what you are feeling.”
Jude Harris (6): “My experience with the school newspaper has been great! I have learned so much about the subject of journalism and so much about writing in general. Overall, it has been an amazing experience and I can’t wait to do it more professionally in high school!”