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Elementary students learn about media in new clubs

Students at Holy Cross School in DeWitt are participating this year in two cutting edge clubs: Journalism and Multimedia Storytelling. The groups meet on a regular basis and involve children from first through fifth grades.

"The Journalism Club was formed to give the students exposure to creative writing, photography and a sense of community," said Lisa Arbon, club coordinator. "They create a school newspaper which fosters a sense of pride for the work they created."

The newspaper, published on a monthly basis, consists of stories regarding the school community and local events. There are 36 "reporters" in first through fourth grade who wear many hats -- typical of a real newsroom.

"They choose assignments such as writing a feature article, being an interviewer, photographers, editors or [in] circulation," said Arbon, adding that each student learns public speaking skills, how to shake hands and use proper eye contact.

The kids are also encouraged to create catchy headlines, use the five W's and to always stick to the facts. Deadlines are set -- and usually met -- for each month, Arbon said.

The Multimedia Storytelling Club is directed by Olga Zatepilina and Marti Collins, two Doctoral candidates from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

"We wanted to introduce the kids to some basics of organizational storytelling using a combination of text, still photographs, graphics and audio clips," said Zatepilina, who worked in corporate, nonprofit and government communications for more than a decade. "Club members are learning elements of news, photo-reporting and storyboarding to prepare stories about their school life for presentation on school/church Web sites or for possible publication."

There are 12 fifth-graders who participate in this club, and after just three sessions, the kids are already excited about photography.

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