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Archive for Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Digital news source links Virtual School students

December 27, 2006

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It makes sense: If a regular high school has a regular student newspaper, then a virtual high school should have a virtual student newspaper.

That was the thinking that led to a new project at the Lawrence Virtual School this semester: the Lawrence Virtual Secondary Program School Newspaper.

"We were looking for a way to make the virtual school more like a regular school," said Charles Goolsby, an English teacher who is the newspaper's sponsor.

Goolsby and the school's principal, Gary Lewis, came up with the idea that a student newspaper could help provide some common ground for the virtual school's 639 students.

Unlike students in a traditional school building, Lawrence Virtual School's students are scattered throughout Kansas, linked mostly by the computers where they take online classes.

"We thought that since we had kids all over the state, having a newspaper would be good, from the perspective of helping the kids to see that maybe there's not that much difference between here and western Kansas or here and southeastern Kansas," Goolsby said.

They also wanted to provide students with more of a typical high school experience.

"Lots of schools have school newspapers," he said. "But we would be able to put the twist on it in that, since we're a virtual school, that we wouldn't make hard copies. We would just post it to the Web. And then, not only could our kids see it, but anybody could see it."

This semester there are three students on the virtual school's newspaper staff: Chloe Jones, Baldwin City; Christy Rude, Winfield; and Olive Coleman, Lawrence. They take it for class credit.

"We've had a couple of kids kind of guest write for us," Goolsby said.

So far, there have been issues in September, October, November and December.

Josh Vineyard, a sophomore, left, and Shiloh Crews, a freshman, do some school work in the computer cafe at the Lawrence Virtual School, 2145 La. Students enrolled in the Virtual School created an online newspaper this semester that draws contributions from across the state.

Josh Vineyard, a sophomore, left, and Shiloh Crews, a freshman, do some school work in the computer cafe at the Lawrence Virtual School, 2145 La. Students enrolled in the Virtual School created an online newspaper this semester that draws contributions from across the state.

Students write the stories, take photos and send them to him through e-mail.

Then Goolsby does the layout for the newspaper, putting it into a computer format that is viewable on most computers.

"That's how we put it on the Web and that way anybody can read it," he said.

The stories are varied and reflect the interests of the students, he said.

For example, November's issue included a story about the history of Thanksgiving.

One of the students, Christy Rude, wrote her stories from Greece, where she was spending the semester.

We've had a lot of people profiles," Goolsby said. Rude wrote a story about her aunt in Greece who is a professional model.

"We've also had profiles on famous people as well: John Lennon and Abby Hoffman. We had a story on the Solidarity Bookstore downtown."

The virtual newspaper also had a story about what the first day of school was like in Winfield, he said.

"That was one of those kind of 'we're all alike' kind of stories. It was really interesting," Goolsby said.

The newspaper is popular among the students at the school, he said.

"We've had some kids e-mail us about how they can get on the staff for the next semester," he said. "So I hope that's an indication that the kids are reading the paper and see it as a viable experience that they would like to have. ... From what I see, I think it is."

- Multimedia reporter Dave Toplikar can be reached at 832-7151.

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