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JMS to offer journalism electives

Jemison Middle School has consulted creativity to bring students new elective options, this year offering a journalism program to seventh and eighth graders.

The goal?

To hone writing and grammar skills of students while enhancing their other coursework.

“In journalism, you write a lot,” JMS Principal Kendall Jackson, who was a journalism major in college, said. “I’m hoping that we see that transition into their other classes — that their writing skills improve, because you’ve got to be able to do some basic sort of writing before you can write an English paper, before you can write a piece in your science class or a research paper in history.”

The seventh-grade course, instructed by Ashlin Castleberry, concentrates on print journalism and is intended to build into the eighth grade broadcast journalism course taught by Shonda Copen.

“A lot of students don’t understand: if you can’t write a story, you can’t do a broadcast piece,” Jackson said. “Somebody has to write that story.”

The print journalism course will focus on the basic framework of writing, while the broadcast journalism course will focus primarily on creating broadcast pieces.

Jackson said the two classes may work together, particularly if the classes explore photojournalism. Broadcast students can take photos and footage for the print journalism students to caption with stories.

Students will be trained to better discern newsworthiness and report facts, producing a consistent newsletter and potentially an arts magazine in the future — designed to showcase student artwork from various projects throughout the year.

“I have these ideas of where I want to go,” Jackson said, adding that some expectations may be too extensive to tackle with the first run-though of the program. “We’re just going to start at the bottom, and we’re going to start working to meet those expectations.”

Community spotlights highlighting local businesses, business owners and community members are anticipated to be regular projects for the students.

“It’s about their school and what they see going on in their school. It’s not necessarily what we’re telling them to see. But they will be writing on what they have going on in their school and in their community, and they will spotlight what’s important to them,” Jackson said. “I want this to be a way to give our students a voice.”