826 Valencia volunteer Bulmaro Ramirez with Rosisela, one of the journalists.
On Thursday, December 17, students, tutors, and teachers gathered in the 826 Valencia Writer’s Room at Everett Middle School to celebrate the newly released fall issue of the Straight-Up News, Everett’s biannual student newspaper. The room was full of excitement as our student journalists saw their articles in print for the first time. Students then stepped up to the podium to share something they learned during this project, an appreciation for a tutor, or a portion of their article. Despite the blustery wind outside, hearts were warmed. After the presentations, everyone celebrated all the hard work that went into this project by sharing hot chocolate, bagels, and merriment.
For ten weeks, eighteen eighth graders worked to produce their articles alongside dedicated 826 volunteers. With the help of their tutors, students looked deeper into a topic of personal significance. From there, students researched their topic and came up with questions for an interview subject or their fellow students. Then it was time to start writing. Initially, it may have seemed daunting to write an article but over the course of the project students were able to take ownership of their work and voice their opinions.
One student examined the intricacies of a celebrity feud between Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj. Another student wrote about police brutality and its impact on the Everett community. In a fiery opinion piece, one student condemned Apple for its factory practices. Whatever the subject, students tackled it and the many challenges that came with it. At the end of this project, Everett student David Vigueras, who claimed in his article that Barcelona is indeed the best soccer team in the world shared: “[I learned] that I’m good at it [writing] if I try my best and I could be a writer when I grow up.”
Students were very grateful for the help offered by their tutors. One student, Jason Capistrano, who worked one-on-one with his tutor throughout the project, commented, “He [my tutor] was a great tutor and buddy.” In turn, tutors were overwhelmed with pride at the accomplishments of their students.
Many students were shocked when they finally saw how all their articles came together to create a newspaper. The release celebration brimmed with joy, excitement, pride, and of course, bagels. Stop by the Pirate Store to grab a copy of this semester’s issue of Straight-Up News and see what all the fuss is about!
– Dana Belott, Programs Associate