Chase Naples (left) and Garrett Riba, eighth-graders at Greenbrier Middle School, work on a magazine that their classes plan to publish. Pupils chose topics for the magazine from teen hangouts to education issues.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Ethan Butler says he found an interesting answer to a rumor while recently working for a teen-focused magazine as part of his Greenbrier Middle School advanced writing class.
While examining The Retreat area of Riverwood Plantation, where the Champions Retreat golf course is located near Ethan's school, the 13-year-old says he discovered that despite rumors, "Tiger Woods does not have a house back there.''
The idea of obtaining such information for feature stories on areas in Columbia County began as a project started by gifted teacher Becky Holley and eighth-grade writing teacher Leslie Wright.
The project began with the teachers' combined 39 pupils writing a feature article.
"We started with just feature articles," Wright said as her pupils spent Wednesday morning drawing the layout of their two-page articles or designing them on computer software. "It evolved from that to, let's make it about teens. Let's make it youthful. Let's make it about Columbia County. Let's make it about their interests.
"Because it is about what they are interested in, I think it pulls (the pupils) in a little bit."
Pupils chose topics ranging from teen hangouts and shopping locations, such as the Evans 14 Cinema, Old Navy and the Evans boutique Whatever, and popular teen activities, including dance and martial arts studios, to the changes in Columbia County education in the past 10 years and the recently instituted smoking ban.
"They put a lot of effort into it, really they did," Wright said.
Pupils were required to take their own photographs, set up and conduct interviews, write the articles and design a page layout to give to a local printer, who volunteered to produce the magazine. Holley said the magazine contents will be complete by the first of May, so the printer has time to produce it before the final day of school in mid-May.
"It was neat," Ethan said of the process during which he interviewed Brian Stock, the director of golf at Champions Retreat. "I've never done (this) before."
Holley said exposing her pupils to the entire production process could spur a new interest and possibly new career opportunities for her pupils.
But it was professionals already practicing some aspect of print media production that made the magazine idea possible. The Augusta Chronicle's Outdoors Editor Rob Pavey, staff writer Adrian Burns, The Columbia County News-Times photographer Jim Blaylock and Beth Siciliano, the assistant editor of Columbia County Magazine, spoke to the classes providing useful information and tips, including an explanation of the print media process from interviewing to the press.
Greenbrier Middle School eighth-graders Hyeji Park (from left), Tory Tickerhoof and Dana Marshall work on the layout of a magazine that the gifted and advanced writing classes are planning to publish. Students are learning the entire production process.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"We really had the community come in and help us a whole lot," Holley said. "We really didn't know what we were doing either, so these four people came in and helped us, and it made all the difference in the world."
Most of the pupils, who spent the week before spring break laying out their own pages with the help of the design-oriented software, said conducting the interview was the hardest part of the project.
But for Chase Naples, 14, finding someone to interview was the most difficult aspect of his story about how Columbia County was named. He called Marilyn Heuer, the county's project administrator, for the answer.
"The Quakers, they decided to come up with a name," Chase said. "The Quakers are not a fighting community. They named (the county) after an explorer. Most counties are named after war heroes, so (the Quakers) named (Columbia County) after an explorer, who is Christopher Columbus."
Holley and Wright agreed they are pleased to see the pupils so involved and excited about the project.
"They are definitely taking ownership of it," Holley said.
The teachers plan to have pupils do the project again next year and possibly open it up for sixth- and seventh-graders to submit articles, photos or poetry. By next winter, the project may be supported by grant funds for more software and a digital camera, and possibly funding for printing, Holley said.
The teachers have asked for 50 copies of the magazine, one for each pupil and the two teachers and a few extras for each of the county's middle school libraries.
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