The free press is alive and well at Covington School.
Sixth-graders Raghav Peruri, Shreya Goyalpatel and Jordice Towne started a newspaper, the Coyote Crier, this fall. The paper, scheduled for publication three times a year, covers the school’s important news – a field trip to a neuroscientist’s lab, popular recess games and lunch table cleanliness, to name a few stories.
The first issue, published Nov. 2, was such a hit that Shreya said she heard students were actually fighting over the copies.
“I don’t want people to get hurt from it,” Jordice said, shocked. “It’s a good thing and a bad thing.”
The newspaper is student-run – parents and teachers Kim Nero and Kate Kingman help, but Nero said the students really have taken charge of the endeavor.
“We’ve been on the periphery – they’ve been doing their thing,” Nero said.
Raghav said the idea for the newspaper came from his dad, departing member of the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees, Sangeeth Peruri. Raghav has always liked writing, and his dad said that working at a newspaper could be a good future job for him. So why wait? Raghav teamed up with his friends from kindergarten, Shreya and Jordice, to launch the paper.
“The whole point of the newspaper is to get people informed and have something for them to read,” Shreya said.
First, they planned. They visited the Los Altos Town Crier to learn a bit about how newspapers run and sent out a survey to their fellow classmates to gauge interest.
According to Raghav, the survey asked questions such as, “Would you like to join the newspaper?” and “Do you promise that you will be faithful to the newspaper and not just ditch meetings?”
Raghav said he was expecting about five people to show up for the first meeting.
“I was really worried at the beginning, like, ‘Are there going to be enough people, will it work out, will anyone want to do it?’” he wondered.
Thirty fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders committed to joining the newspaper staff for the first issue. They divided themselves up among jobs: comment-makers, puzzle-makers, writers, editors, tech workers and photographers.
Although only older Covington students are on staff, Shreya said the paper is intended for the entire school.
“Everyone who is actually able to read it can read it,” she said.
Hot off the press
The founding editors convene Wednesdays during lunch to plan out the meetings for the entire newspaper, discussing what they’ll say during the morning announcements and how they’ll wrangle the 30 kids into various jobs.
Nero, who taught all three students in fifth grade, said that she’s seen them grow immensely. She said that in fifth grade, Jordice wasn’t comfortable giving a presentation to the class, but less than a year later, she made an announcement to the entire school about the paper.
Raghav said he was surprised by how smoothly the first issue went, a success he attributed mostly to luck but also to proper planning and the help of parents and teachers. Shreya said she was nervous before the first issue was released. A digital edition was sent out to every classroom in the school and some print copies were distributed.
“I felt a little pressure, but then I was like, ‘It’s OK if they don’t like it, as long as we’re proud.’ But then when I figured out they loved it, it felt so good,” she said.
Changes for the next paper include more puzzles and a comic format that’s easier to read.
The industrious trio is hoping that someday their younger siblings will take the Coyote Crier’s reins. Until then, they’re looking for some intrepid fifth-graders to take over the paper when they move on to junior high at the end of the year.