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Weston Third-Graders Get a Look at News Business

WESTON, Conn. – Third-graders in Kathleen Pando’s class at Weston Intermediate School learned all about the “five W’s” of news reporting and a whole lot more Monday as part of a Junior Achievement initiative to teach students about the world around them.

During the 45-minute lesson on newspapers, presented by Junior Achievement of America volunteer Robin Ferraro and Matt Zalaznick, managing editor of The Daily Weston, students learned the difference between newspapers and online news sites and the roles they play in large and small communities.

Students also had a chance to make their own classroom newspaper as part of the lesson.

Ferraro said online sites such as The Daily Weston provide local news to communities while regional and national newspapers provide information about what is happening throughout the country and the world.

“You can learn information about different kinds of things, be more aware of what is happening in the world and if something is going to impact you,” she said.

Ferraro used examples of headlines from newspapers to stress the importance of how they catch people’s interest and make the reader want to know more the story.

Zalaznick told students being a good reporter goes beyond asking who, what, when, where and why. The job requires good listening skills, curiosity and the ability to ask people questions even if you don’t know them.

Students asked Zalaznick where reporters get ideas for stories.

“A good reporter is always looking around, talking to people and listening,” he said.

Zalaznick added that reporters have to be polite, respectful and always tell the truth. “Every time you write a story you want it to be accurate and true,” he said.

During the activity students were divided into groups to create headlines and story ideas for news, sports, schools, business and entertainment sections of the class newspaper, “The Daily Pando.”

Ben Ferraro and Sabastian Rakowski filled the sports page with stories about New York Knick point guard Jeremy Lin’s rise to “Linsanity” and the beginning of the professional baseball and the Weston Little League seasons.

Emily Semaya pitched a story about the opening of a new restaurant in Weston for the business page. The top story on the news page submitted by Julia Rosenberg declared spirit week canceled for “bad manners and bad behavior."

The entertainment page was filled with reviews of new video games and movies.

Ferraro, who was impressed by the input during the activity, said students interested in becoming news reporters are required to earn a college degree in journalism and have practical experience. “You can all get that experience through internships,” she said.

Hayley Palsho, a 9-year-old student in Pando’s class, said the assignment was fun and said she looked forward to seeing this story on The Daily Weston website. “This is all really exciting,” she said.

The core purpose of Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization founded in Southwest Connecticut in 1975 , is "to empower young people to their own economic success," Ferraro said.

The Junior Achievement focus for the third grade this year is “Our City,” she said.  “They learn what types of businesses can be found in a city, what types of workers they require and how workers apply those skills to jobs."

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