Page One

Students publish new newspaper

By Juliet Leyba Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday November 21, 2000

Free speech is alive and well at King Middle School – thanks to a civic minded seventh-grader who has taken on the task of creating the school’s first student-run newspaper. 

The fledgling publication hit the school news stand in early November and appears to be off to a running start. 

“We’ve got some contributors, people from sixth, seventh and eighth grade. We’re also working with King Gay/Straight Alliance and will publish something from them in our next issue,” said creator and Editor-in-Chief Jacob Schneider. 

Schneider, 12, said he first had the idea for the paper last year when he was in sixth grade. 

“I just noticed that we didn’t have a paper, and I thought we should so I decided to act on it,” he said. 

Schneider said he began talking to teachers and school officials to try and generate some interest. He found a staff sponsor, English/history teacher Darren Pagtakhan, and began recruiting fellow students. 

“It took shape reasonably quickly,” Schneider said. “There are a lot of good writers in this school I just had to figure out where they were.” 

The paper has been so popular that it’s staff has swelled from a mere handful of interested students to more than a dozen people in under a month. Schneider has had to act fast naming a copy editor, entertainment editor and fielding suggestions for future stories. 

“I’ve also applied for a grant to get some money to publish our next issue,” Schneider said. “My parents helped get the first issue off the ground, and it was about $500 but we definitely need some alternative to that.” 

Staff writer and recently appointed copy editor Graham Heimley, 14, said one of the biggest hurdles for the new publication was deciding what to call it. 

“We came up with so many names. The Cobra Chronicle, Venom, Viper and a slew of other names relating to snakes like The Hiss and, of course, The Bottomless Pit of Terror so ... we voted and Cobra won,” Heimley said. 

The first issue, which coincided with election week, ran articles explaining the electoral college, the issues and positions of each candidate and a first person piece on volunteering for Ralph Nader as well as a survey, crossword puzzle and comic strip. 

Entertainment editor Ellen Cushing, 12, plans on reviewing “Charlie’s Angels” and the King Middle School Winter Concert for the next issue. 

“I like to write and was really excited because the response from friends has been really good. People didn’t think it was dorky, they liked it,” Cushing said. 

Other pieces slated for the next issue include a poem, brain teaser, an article on irrational things people do to make their bodies look better, how to manage anger and another student comic strip. 

Tonya Tyree, who has a daughter at King Middle School, said she hoped they would continue their good work. 

“[ The new publication] provides a voice for the ideas and thoughts of students,” she said. 

English and History instructor Darren Pagtakhan was named faculty advisor to The Cobra and said the students “literally made it happen.” 

“This is an example of how an idea can really come to fruition,” he said.