Journalism staff celebrates conclusion of elementary workshops

Harrisonburg High School media editors and leaders, local elementary school students and families gathered in the journalism lab Feb. 26 to celebrate the conclusion of a series of elementary school journalism workshops hosted by HHS Media. Students from yearbook and Newsstreak collectively showcased photography, design, yearbook and newspaper print publications and gave a tour of the high school. Junior Caleb Goss and sophomore Rachel Phengsitthy displayed work completed by the elementary students in a final presentation

“For the kids to come to the high school and be able to show their parents all of their hard work allowed them to be proud of what they did and expanded their interest in journalism and excitement for high school,”  sophomore Newsstreak sports editor Maya Waid said. 

The workshops ran for three consecutive days at each of Stone Spring, Bluestone and Smithland Elementary Schools. The first day, high school journalists taught their younger counterparts the basics of interviewing. This included a short presentation about the 5 Ws and H (who, what, where, when, why and how). Students then did an interactive activity in which they were able to interview and report on a high school student. Those reporting with the most accurate and detailed information received an award. 

“It pushes the students out of their comfort zone early on. It will help them be able to communicate with adults and peers later on without fear,” yearbook editor junior Macy Swift said.

The second day of the workshop featured a photography lesson. Accompanied by four DSLR Canon cameras, the high school journalists taught basic photography composition such as framing, rule of thirds, angles and leading lines. Their skills were then put to use through a photo scavenger hunt where the elementary students looked for examples of the things they had learned in their school environment and brought back pictures to share as a group.  

“Photography is a skill proven to be more and more useful in our increasingly digitized world. Having elementary school age children handling expensive, professional pieces of equipment helps them learn transferable life skills. Through our program, they are able to learn basic camera settings, which will later help them if they decide to take more pictures in the future,” junior Newstreak editor Mia Constantin said. 

On the final day of the workshop, the students were taught how to write opinion pieces, a style of journalistic writing used in Newsstreak and in typical English classes. Students compared different miniature candy bars to decide the best one based on a variety of categories.

“Opinion writing teaches students how to research topics and discuss how they feel and what they believe in an organized manner. This also helps them form educated arguments as well as learn different ways to compose an opinion,” junior Newstreak editor Caleb Goss said. 

When Ms. Kibler reached out to me about extending this opportunity to elementary students, I was ecstatic about this possibility because it provides opportunities for students to build their communication and collaboration skills while learning the basics of journalism,” HCPS Curriculum Specialist Joy Blosser said. 

These elementary workshops were new this year and added to outreach efforts completed by HHS Media students in past years including a middle school workshop which has been running for 10 years. The middle school workshop is a 10-week program for Thomas Harrison and Skyline students who want to come to the high school and study multiple aspects of journalism.

“It made me think about what I knew about journalism and what I needed to learn more about, so I could teach the kids in an easily understandable way,” junior Newstreak editor Betsy Quimby said. 

High school students also taught elementary journalism, elementary photography and middle school photography for JMU’s College for Kids program. This workshop ran for six  consecutive Saturdays in January and February on the JMU campus.


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