October 2019 … These days it’s not uncommon to hear about newspapers that have folded or cut back on their print presence. But in North Philadelphia, a school newspaper is coming back to life after a 10-year hiatus.
The Duckrey Healthy Post at Dr. Tanner G. Duckrey Public School will resume publication this fall with a staff of 30 eighth graders. They will serve as health reporters under the leadership of Mrs. Jill Koch, their English language arts teacher.
“Having the Healthy Post return is very exciting for me,” said Mrs. Koch, who was the founding faculty advisor of the newspaper from 2007 to 2009. “It gives the students an opportunity to have autonomy and a break from their day-to-day routine.”
The reporters started “shoe-leather camp” in mid-September, which is a series of six Healthy NewsWorks lessons that all participating school newspaper staffs take part in. They are introduced to fundamental journalism concepts such as the difference between facts and opinion and the importance of trustworthy sources. They also start considering why health is a relevant subject to write about—for themselves and their community.
As a first assignment, the Healthy Post reporters wrote short essays on why health is important to them. A few of their comments included:
• “If it weren’t for health, I would be sick and out of shape,” wrote Joelle. “Health is also important to me because people can become more vulnerable to diseases if they didn’t keep up with their health.”
• “Health is important to me because it is the well-being of your mind and your body,” Nayiah said.
• “What health means to me is how mentally and physically stable you are,” Dutches wrote. “It’s important to stay mentally healthy because if you are not, you can become depressed.”
Mrs. Koch sees other benefits as well.
“I forgot how much my students rise to the occasion when it comes to interviewing people and writing articles,” she said. “I am looking forward to witnessing the feeling of success my students will achieve this year.”