Students conduct summer journalism class

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LION staff members teach incoming freshman and middle school students journalistic writing

Morgan Fry , Reporter

 Lillie George ‘21, LT student and News Section Editor for the LION Newspaper, was seeking to share her passion for journalism with LT’s next generation of student reporters. With the help of fellow LION peers, Adriana Serrano ‘21, Charlotte McLaughlin ‘21, Brianna Fonseca ‘21, and Kaitlyn Joyner ‘21, George created an online introductory journalism course for incoming freshmen and middle school students.

 “I ended up having the idea out of the blue,” George said. “I was trying to think of things I was interested in and how I could turn that into something to help others in my community.”

From June 22 to July 24, approximately 25 active participants from LT feeder schools took part in the five-week class, meeting every Monday and Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. on Zoom, George said. The class was free, making it accessible to all families. 

“One reason we did the class for free was because with the pandemic, money is tight for a lot of people, so we wanted to be able to offer a fun class that anyone can enjoy no matter what their socioeconomic status is,” teacher Serrano said. 

While the introductory and wrap-up weeks were required, students could choose to participate in one, all or a combination of the three week-long units, George said. Among the choices were news and sports, photography and page design, and opinions and reviews. Although students had the choice to participate in one or two of the optional sessions, the majority signed up for all three. 

Like most students, Park Junior High School’s Emily Schuler ‘22 had never taken a journalism class before and hoped to gain experience through the course, she said. Schuler, who aspires to be a part of student journalism in high school, attended every Zoom meeting.

“I feel this class has given me a lot of new opportunities,” Schuler said. “It gave me new things I could channel my ideas into.” 

Serrano remembers feeling apprehensive about the first day of class, unsure about how the students would respond to her and her peers’ teaching, she said. 

“They were very shy kids, and it took a lot for them to start talking so we were definitely very nervous, but once we got into it, we got more comfortable,” Serrano said. 

Despite the trepidations, students like Schuler had positive experiences with George, Serrano, McLaughlin and Fonseca’s teaching styles. 

For starters, they were very organized, which helped me feel a lot better,” Schuler said. “They created a calm mental aspect and were very inviting. They also told us to ask questions, give them feedback on if they were going too fast and overall were just very open.”

In order to ensure they were teaching correct and engaging material that would receive this kind of positive feedback, George and her team had to prepare. Using notes from their journalistic writing class from freshman and sophomore years at LT, along with online research, they were able to compose a curriculum for the class.  

By the end of the course, students had obtained enough material to create a final project, Serrano said. Participants were able to select a style from any of the units covered and write a story to receive feedback on during the last session. The stories were also posted to the “Explore” page of the course website for the community to see. Schuler wrote a review about a local shaved ice shop, Tropical Sno, in Western Springs. 

“Honestly I don’t think I could write a review that well, and she’s only in what, 7th grade?” Serrano said.  “A lot of them did really well by the end, and it was really cool to see how talented they were.”