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CMS Newspaper Elevates Student Voices

“Should we have an additional late start day at CMS?”

“Should CMS extend lunchtime?”

Columbia Middle School’s student newspaper, the Bulldog Beacon, recently covered these weighty topics and more.

The Bulldog Beacon online newspaper is produced by the journalism elective class at CMS. Students choose the topics they want to write about, research their subjects, and write and edit articles. Journalism Teacher Brian Brown publishes the stories on the Bulldog Beacon website, which features stories ranging from global news to music and restaurant reviews, to advice.

The 32 students in Brown’s journalism class also create a video broadcast that airs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and covers school announcements on-campus events, such as school plays, yearbook sales, and student activities. Students also do broadcast segments where they develop the story idea, write the script, film and edit the footage, and produce the videos. Recently, students completed a feature on the girl’s soccer team. Past broadcast projects have covered topics such as Pokemon Club, Club Live, and the Art Club.

Brown was excited to teach the journalism elective to give students the opportunity to elevate their voices and address different issues that are important to them. Connecting the work students do in class to the real world was also a priority. “Students sometimes have a hard time seeing the connection with what they do at school and what they’ll do later in life,” he said. “But going through this process — planning, writing, revising, publishing — they can see themselves as writers, as journalists.”

Recently, a student named Karina told Brown she wanted to interview Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein. Brown was thinking about how he could help set up the interview when Karina contacted Mayor Klein herself. The mayor agreed and sat down with Karina for an hour-long interview.  Karina’s story “Making Sunnyvale a Better Place – an interview with Mayor Klein” is now featured on the Bulldog Beacon’s home page.

“I’m really proud — proud of the work, proud of filling this particular need at the school, proud of the growth the students have shown. They’re growing as writers, and that’s really important to me,” said Brown.

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