Chief Advocate Editors Mentor Eighth-Graders During Journalism Unit


Kyle Brennan

NHS Chief Advocate editors, from left, Izzy DiNunzio, Sam Conti, and Kamden Bushka, as well as reporter Judy Nakhla, visited Woodbury Middle School in January to mentor Adam Brutting’s eighth-grade journalists.

Judy Nakhla, Reporter

WOODBURY — What should the lead for this story be? Who is a good person to interview? What questions are necessary to ask? Wait, when’s the deadline again?

These are among the top questions many journalists ask themselves when beginning a new article. Woodbury Middle School eighth-grade English teacher Adam Brutting recently exposed his students to a type of writing they’d never seen before – journalism writing.

For this reason, a small group of reporters and editors from Nonnewaug went to WMS on Jan. 21 to help mentor their eighth-grade counterparts. The group consisted of editor-in-chief Kamden Bushka, senior editor/sports editor Sam Conti, junior editor/community news editor Izzy DiNunzio, and reporter Judy Nakhla.

After the group of four presented excerpts from their articles, Brutting’s students quickly got to work on their own. The end result was a wide spectrum of topics ranging from COVID-19 to which quads are best for mudding; the students were able to get creative with their interests in these pieces. 

As the eighth-grade journalism unit came to an end, Brutting’s students recalled what they learned and expressed their feelings about this newfound writing style.

“I learned that revision is important for any story,” said Aubrey Fengler. “I also learned that when writing a story, it’s good to interview a lot of people.”

“You should always cite your sources,” Brianne Tari added. “And your paragraphs don’t need to be that long, they can be only a few sentences.”

While wrapping up the unit, students pondered whether or not they should join the Investigative Multimedia Journalism course, which is taught by Kyle Brennan, as freshmen next year. Responses were mixed, as expected. For some kids, the topic didn’t spark their interest.

“I probably won’t [sign up for the class], but that’s just because I don’t really enjoy writing when other people can see it,” said Fengler.

“I just did not personally find this unit interesting,” Madi Doran agreed.

On the contrary, some kids showed enthusiasm for the topic.

“I would like to join,” said Malynda Karam. “I enjoy this style of writing because it’s short, simple, and you can write about anything that interests you. There is lots of freedom in this genre.”

“It will help me become a better writer in the future and give me more experience,” Mariah Manzano agreed.

Finally, a handful of kids were undecided. Some saw the appeal but already had other electives in mind, and some were on the fence.

“I still have to think,” said Anna Crocker. “I think the class is cool, but I don’t know if I would truly enjoy it.”

“I have to decide, but I think it would be a nice opportunity and something to definitely try out,” Ada Gorka noted. 

For a few, journalism is an art that requires dedication and patience. For others, it is difficult to master and not their strong suit in comparison to other categories like fiction. One thing is for certain: these students will walk away from this unit with a new writing style under their belts.