Fifth-graders make news and history

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    SPARTA-The choice was a difficult one to make but 11year-olds Nicole Devenny and Danni Czark handled the pressure like pros. The final decision was made and the ‘Cystic Fibrosis Fund Raiser' story and ‘Mr. D. Rewards 3rd Period Lunch" took precedence over the ‘Pet Appreciation Day' story. It was all in a day's work for the seasoned newspaper professionals. Devenny and Czark are the founders, creators and lifeblood behind the Mighty Mohawk Messenger, a monthly newspaper distributed to all Mohawk Avenue School students. The two fifth-graders got the idea for the paper after reading a book for class called Landry News by Andrew Clements. Devenny says she identified with the story of a girl in fifth grade who started a school paper and brought about changed to her school for the better. "I thought it would be a lot of fun and a chance to bring all kinds of kids together," said Devenny. After deciding to take on the enterprise, the Sparta girls then sought permission from school Principal Michael Gregory. "The kids came to me early in the school year with their request and I thought it would be just a short term project," said Gregory. "But they have really surprised me. They have shown the same amount of enthusiasm through out the year." The paper was not given the thumbs up, however, until Devenny and Czark found a way to pay for it. "There wasn't any money for the copying," said Czark, "so we had to go to businesses and get sponsors." Several area businesses have covered the costs of a newspaper edition, among them The Pizza Place, Pet Centre, Garlic & Oil and Lollipops. After getting the go-ahead, Devenny and Czark built a team of students to help in the endeavor. Roaming reporter Matt Boffa collects news stories and submits them to Devenny and Czark. "I brainstorm ideas on the bus and in the classroom, then go deeper into it," said Boffa. Jace Vienne and Cory LeVan work as editors, although Devenny and Czark have the final say. "We get together to determine if changes are needed," said Vienne. "We pretty much agree on everything." Devenny and Czark then put the paper together, get the copies made and hand them off to Brian Wilkie. "I'm the delivery boy," said Wilkie. "I go to each classroom, deliver the paper copies and make sure everyone gets one." Only two issues are left to publish before the school year ends and the group moves on to Sparta Middle School. But the students are hopeful that their legacy will live on. "We have already picked some kids who will be in this school next year to pass it on to," said Devenny. And she has the support of the school principle. "This has been an incredible experience," said Gregory. "It has encouraged organization, team work, literature, and writing. We will discuss it in our final faculty meeting at the end of the year to see what we can do with it next year."