BARNEGAT – Seasoned journalists may envy the expert advice shared with a budding class of cub reporters in the Barnegat Township School District’s Joseph T. Donahue School.
Deanna Buccella, who teaches Gifted and Talented students, says her fourth grade class enjoyed the opportunity to learn from real news reporters and practice interviewing skills of their own. The students plan to launch a digital newspaper called “Turtle Talk,” which the students named based on the school’s turtle mascot.
“My group expressed an interest in wanting to learn how to use Canva for their newsletter and especially wanted to be environmentally aware by NOT having their newsletter printed out on paper,” shared Buccella. “The students are learning how to add videos and graphics to their online newsletter.
“We are also planning to work on making a video news report after our first digital newsletter is completed,” continued Buccella. “I am so impressed with the students’ enthusiasm and perseverance.”
Emily “Elle” Jones, who has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2017 came in to speak with the class about her experience as a writer. She writes fiction under the pen name Elle Michael River, which she says is primarily contemporary fiction and horror. Jones also teaches writing workshops and has tutored at Ocean County College.
Fourth grader Azlynn Harker said the presentations left an impact as far as the way to approach writing a story.
“I learned how to use emotions in writing and in making an effective headline,” Azlynn said.
A broadcast producer, news reporter, and host for NJN Public Television, New Jersey’s PBS affiliate, for 23 years, Sandra Levine shared her experiences with the eager group of students. Levine told the students of her interest in animals, which she attributed to her late father who was a veterinarian. Levine shared a story called “The Smart Goose,” written about her dad’s heroic attempts to rescue a wise bird.
“I really enjoyed Mrs. Levine and her story about “The Smart Goose,” said fourth-grader Lexie Bucior. “She showed us how important it is to speak clearly and slowly when you are doing an interview.”
The third group of presenters gave the students hands-on experience from a different vantage point. Two Barnegat High School students who participate in the “Bengal Buzz” actively engaged the fourth grade class. The Bengal Buzz focuses on broadcast journalism in presenting news at the high school.
High school English teacher and Bengal Buzz advisor Alanis Baumgardner showed a short promotional video and then discussed interviewing. Buccella’s students then came up and practiced being interviewed and interviewing with Amy Medina, a junior and Melissa Hackett, a senior. The students got to see and interact with the camera and microphones utilized by the class.
“I liked when we talked to the high school students and Bengal Buzz,” said Mila Ellis, one of the fourth-grade students. “It inspired me to want to interview people and join Bengal Buzz when I get to high school.”
Mary Cammarata, District Supervisor of English Language Arts/Social Studies/Visual & Performing Arts commended Buccella on her innovative approach to teaching journalism and getting the students excited about writing.
“The students formulated some great questions and were excited to participate and interact with the high schoolers,” said Cammarata.