Hillside Prepares Next Generation of Journalists


Frieda Belasco, Staff Writer

Future Buzzer journalists are in the making at Hillside Elementary. This year marks the debut of “The Hillside Insider,” a new Hillside newspaper. Started by first grade teacher Jaime Bragg, the paper has published two editions so far. Bragg said that she was looking for more ways to be involved at the school, and the principal, Amy Cazes, suggested that she create a newspaper with students. Bragg “really liked the idea” because she loves to read and write, and work with students. She had to work “from the bare bottom, and had to create what it would look like and what the process would be.” 

These journalists-in-training are all fourth graders, and each edition highlights the work of writers from two fourth grade classes. Since there are six fourth grade classes this year, three editions will be published. Any student from the featured classes for that edition can choose, if they want, to write and also get to choose what they want to write about. 

The process of creating a “Hillside Insider” edition starts in the classroom, with Bragg going into the participating class and giving it an introduction as to what the paper is, gauging how many students may want to participate and what they might be interested in writing about. The paper is student-focused. Bragg is “here to support their writing and answer any questions along the way,” but all ideas for articles, and all of the articles themselves, as well as any accompanying artwork, comes from students. 

In the most recent edition, published in April, the article topics spanned many subjects, including world news, interviews with students and staff, and vacation reviews. Choosing what they want to write about “leads to success, because students are picking what they’re passionate about, and it truly shows in their writing,” Bragg said in an interview. 

Eden, a fourth grader who wrote for the second edition of the paper said, “I thought it would be really fun trying to write an article, since writing is my favorite subject. I did an interview and I loved asking questions.”

Once all the articles are submitted to Bragg, she edits and formats them, taking into account what font and headline each student wants included in their article. (As one can imagine, the fonts are very expressive, as they were chosen by fourth graders exploring all of the powers of Google Docs). 

Everyone involved has been having fun with the process of creating a newspaper, learning a lot along the way. Eden would recommend joining “The Hillside Insider” to next year’s fourth graders, saying “it gives you a sense of responsibility when you get to choose what you want to write about.”