Paid subscriptions allow school newspaper to be published

Kerry McKay, writing specialist and school newspaper adviser, stands with some of the staff of The Tiger Telegraph. The Tiger Telegraph is funded by $5 one-year subscriptions paid for by parents and teachers.

In order to raise funds for John Read Middle School’s  student newspaper, The Tiger Telegraph, Kerry McKay, the club’s adviser and the school’s writing specialist, is selling subscriptions for $5 a family.

“For $5, a family can buy a one-year subscription to The Tiger Telegraph, which includes three issues,” said Ms. McKay.

When the newspaper club was started two years ago, Ms. McKay had no budget.

“In order to print our very first paper on actual newspaper print, which I think is a must because it makes the paper official, we applied for a $200 grant from the Parent Teacher Association and were awarded it,” she said.

The $200 grant was enough money to publish one copy for each student and staff member at the middle school.

“Our next two issues that year and the three issues the following year were paid for with money made by selling advertisements to local businesses and a second PTA grant,” she said.

But selling advertisements became a second full-time job, said Ms. McKay, explaining students were spending more time selling than writing. She said that this year’s approach of selling subscriptions is more manageable.

“Parents don’t mind contributing $5 to a positive, academic, student-centered project, especially when their child’s work or success is featured,” said Ms. McKay. “Having subscribers works out well. We have had several generous parents and teachers purchase extra subscriptions just to support the cause, and charging for the paper eliminates waste.”

She said when the paper was free, copies were left around school.

“Now, everyone who wants and pays for a copy of the paper takes one home. We also print enough copies for all staff members to share with the students with whom they work,” she said.

Currently students are working on their next issue of The Tiger Telegraph. Students interview new teachers, have a mystery student, and provide artwork.

Ms. McKay said that since there is no literary magazine at the school, poetry, short stories, movie reviews, book reviews, artwork and photography are also published in the paper.

“I started The Tiger Telegraph because as the school’s writing specialist, I wanted to create an authentic audience for student writing,” she said.

When students take the writing portion of the Connecticut Mastery Test, they write a letter to someone; however, they know the person the letter is addressed to will never read it, said Ms. McKay.

“This makes the writing task somewhat contrived and the students, perhaps, less engaged. A school newspaper allows teachers to showcase exemplary student work.”

All students are allowed to join the newspaper. The club meets every Thursday morning before school in the computer lab.

Subscription forms are on The Tiger Telegraph bulletin board, in the library and on The Tiger Telegraph page on Edline.

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