WVCSD Superintendent’s Spotlight: The Park Avenue Paw Print


WVCSD Superintendent’s Spotlight: The Park Avenue Paw Print

January 12, 2024
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An editorial team of 11 Park Avenue students has introduced a new club (and a new student-created publication) to the school this year. With guidance from teachers Ashley McPherson and Krystie Gilmore, the students launched and have published the first two monthly editions of The Park Avenue Paw Print. Ms. McPherson shared that she and Ms. Gilmore had a few key details in mind as they began conceptualizing what the club could be.

“We knew it should be creative and collaborative, that it would be specifically for students in third and fourth grade, and that it should provide something to the school community,” said Ms. McPherson, adding that they drew inspiration from popular clubs like the Park Avenue Student Senate and the Park Avenue LEGO League club, where students enjoy exploring shared interests and working together towards common goals.

Read the first two editions of The Paw Print below this article.


“So, we started tossing a few different ideas around, about different opportunities we could put out there,” she said. “Krystie and I thought, maybe a reading club or a writing club, and that morphed into this idea of a school newspaper that’s really driven by the kids. How cool would that be?”

Their next step was to announce the club and invite participants. With high hopes, they posted flyers for students interested in being part of a newspaper club to submit an application and writing sample for consideration. Following a strong student response, Ms. McPherson and Ms. Gilmore chose their staff and held the newspaper club’s very first editorial meeting in October.

“We showed them the template of how the newspaper was going to look, and then we just immediately jumped right into brainstorming content ideas,” said Ms. McPherson. “As far as editorial assignments, we create a topic list each month and then it’s, ‘okay, who wants this one? Who wants this one? And, of course, if any of the students bring in an idea that we haven’t come up with, we’re always open to that!”

With so much going on in the school during October — Halloween Happenings, Spirit Week, Red Ribbon Week, to name a few — compiling a long list of story ideas for the premier November edition was easy, and , as Ms. McPherson explained, that first edition — powered largely by the students’ incredible enthusiasm — laid a great foundation from which the newspaper has already begun to quickly evolve.

“This being our first year, we’ve kind of been in uncharted territories, but these kids and this club have completely exceeded our expectations,” enthused Ms. McPherson. She said they plan to maintain the format and routine that the club has established for this year, and “we’ll see how it goes, and maybe adjust things next year.”

Read the first two editions of The Paw Print below this article.

Of course, those kinds of decisions, like the paper itself, will be largely student-driven. And that’s not likely to be a problem, considering the gusto with which the editorial team jumped at this new opportunity.

“As soon as I heard you could do comics and take photos in the newspaper club, I was in,” said Addy Ronne, who handles one of the newspaper’s comic submissions, the LOL Corner.  

“My mom kind of helped me with the lol thing, but I work on it on my iPad,” said Addy, whose interest in, and knack for, photography and art led her to join the editorial team. She said that she loves being in the brainstorming sessions with everyone. 

Fourth grader Charley Daciuk agrees, and shared that the only thing more fun than their collaborative Thursday newsroom sessions, is seeing his own work published. Charley has created a comic strip and is currently working on an interview piece with a reporter from the local newspaper, The Warwick Advertiser. 

“I really wanted to be in a school club, and I really want to write, so when I saw the newspaper club poster, I thought, ‘oh, I really want to do this,” Charley said. “I signed up, I got in, an it’s going awesome!”

Ethan Garcia, also a 4th grader, said he usually likes to read a newspaper in the morning, and that got him to thinking.

“How would it be if I could read my own newspaper,” he said. “So, I wrote about the Halloween Happening and I did [a new teacher] interview with Ms. DeRario, and now I’m writing one for our history piece, about the gold rush.”

Read the first two editions of The Paw Print below this article.

Hailey Troy is the Paw Print’s monthly columnist, a position she envisioned and pitched herself to the club advisors. They loved the idea. Hailey, an aspiring author, said one of her motivations to join the newspaper club was the opportunity to practice her craft.

“I want to get better at writing, because one day I want to be an author,” said Hailey, who enjoys writing mostly fiction when she’s not working on her monthly columns. Hailey has written about the Park Avenue Drama Club’s fall production and, in her most recent column, ways to reach out if you find yourself struggling to make friends.

The Park Avenue Paw Print editorial board and contributors are Cora Bendykowski, Grace Bendykowski, Charley Daciuk, Ethan Garcia, Mila Horak, Ella Leet, Patrick MacFarlane, Ryan O’Donnell, Addy Ronne, Hailey Troy, and June Wetherell-Toro.

You can read the first two editions of The Paw Print below, and keep an eye out for the January edition soon.

“These kids are here, ready to work every Thursday morning. They communicate with us and each other about their ideas, the things they think will work,” said Ms. McPherson. “We are just so proud of this group; proud of them and all of their hard work!”


Read The Paw Print: November 2023


Read The Paw Print: December 2023


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