August 2013…Congratulations to Elena Tzivekis and Rebekah Wilford, recipients of the 2013 Healthy NewsWorks Distinguished Journalist Award. The two eighth-grade students from East Norriton Middle School received the award in recognition of their exemplary work on the East Norriton Bulldog Bulletin and their demonstration of key traits for success as a journalist: commitment, enthusiasm, curiosity, leadership, and journalistic craftsmanship.
“Elena and Rebekah consistently took on tougher stories,” said Vicki Strickland, a teacher at East Norriton and supervising staff for the Bulldog Bulletin. “They also completed more stories than other reporters because of their experience with the interviewing process.”
Ms. Strickland noted the impact Elena and Rebekah had on their peers, calling them “model reporters.” With volunteers from fifth through eighth grade, the Bulldog Bulletin gives students the opportunity to grow with the program and learn from those with more experience. Ms. Strickland has seen this first hand since joining the newspaper program three years ago. She recognized both award winners for their skills in crafting interviews and story development.
“Through interviewing people and looking up information, I’ve learned how to take better care of myself,” said Rebekah. “I learned how important it is to take proper care of your body, and I had fun while learning it.”
With the help of journalists like Elena and Rebekah, the Bulldog Bulletin continues to expand. In 2013, the paper increased its frequency of publication from two to three times per year and often generated six pages of content per issue (up from an average of four pages per issue in 2012). “The most amazing thing to me is the work the students do and their self-motivation,” said Ms. Strickland. “It’s hard not to be excited when you have a classroom of 20 students suggesting stories.”
In describing the environment at the newspaper, Ms. Strickland said it mirrored the buzz of any newspaper. Students would volunteer for an assignment, run out and conduct interviews, and return to write their stories. Collaboration is encouraged, and students consistently reflect on ways to improve their stories and the newspaper.
In addition to their work on the Bulldog Bulletin, both students contributed interviews and illustrations to the book Leading Healthy Change in Our Communities 2013, published by Healthy NewsWorks.
“Being involved in the school paper and the book program has been a wonderful experience,” said Rebekah. “This has been an awesome experience and I truly will miss being a part of it next year when I am in high school.”