With the belief that student-centered learning builds critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School launched the WOLF News Student Journalism Program in the 2016-2017 school year. WOLF News is a platform for students to write and report original news stories with a youth perspective on important issues.
The goal of the WOLF News program at St. Francis is to develop the next generation of media professionals by providing instruction on how to research and write journalistic style news stories and then present those stories in a student-produced weekly broadcast. The program also connects participants with local news stations, mentors, and role models in their community. The hope is to build skills that translate to other areas of life for student reporters and to transform student understanding of news, inspire civic engagement, and generate a life-long interest in current events.
Born from a Student Council campaign platform asking for students to have a voice at school, the program is truly student driven. Participants are recommended by teachers and approved through an application process conducted by advisors that consider writing proficiency, interest, and ability to complete work in a timely manner. Conducted as an enrichment or independent study class, journalists are given summer homework assignments to become familiar with story structure, types of news stories, data collection, interviews, and more. The team of six middle school writers meets with a staff advisor and student editor during the school year to receive assignments, feedback, and direction for each story and collaborate on production schedules and broadcasts. Completed pieces are featured in the school’s weekly eNewsletter and presented in a weekly news broadcast that is created in conjunction with Student Council members in the school’s Innovation Center.
In addition to announcements about school activities, the first season of WOLF News highlighted the meaning of Lent, emphasized the importance of taking care of the planet on Earth Day with a story on the school’s Garden Club, drawn attention to the importance of community connection with a feature on alumnus turned science teacher, Kevin McKay, and provided examples of positive character traits such as perseverance and gratitude.
During a field trip that took place in April of 2017 student reporters from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School’s WOLF News program connected with producers at the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN) located at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove for a tour of the studio and hands-on experience creating a mock broadcast. Each reporter practiced their craft on the EWTN set, taking cues from professional television producers, reading from teleprompters, modifying lighting, and learning about the time, talent, and collaboration required to complete a successful show. Students also benefitted from opportunities at the controls where they counted down to cue producers in the studio, operated teleprompters, and were introduced to the many different roles and responsibilities of a production crew.