Local Journalism is Alive and Well at Valley View School
Valley View School has developed a solution to a commonly observed and highly unsatisfying parent-child interaction. Perhaps this sounds familiar.
Parent: “How are you?”
Parent: “What have you been doing?”
The solution is a weekly newsletter sent to parents called the View’s News. Students at Valley View are involved in a wide range of activities throughout each week and the View’s News is designed to document and communicate to parents about these happenings. Perhaps most importantly, students themselves write approximately 80% of the content. Their first-person descriptions are informative, well-written, and convey striking authenticity.
As an example, the most recent issue described the following: the recent projects of the Film Club, community service work, the varsity and junior varsity basketball tryouts, learning how to weld with Paul, the maintenance man, an exotic animal exhibit during Sunday assembly, a presentation from an animal expert on training police dogs and emotional support dogs, several “night hike” experiences, and the Orange Theory exercise program.
Shannon May is a Valley View middle school English teacher and is the editor of the View’s News. Shannon states, “Student perspective is very important to me. I use the newsletter as an opportunity for the boys to hone their writing skills. They take pride in knowing their work will be shared with the parent community and they look forward to reading each week’s publication.”
Students are enthusiastic about the newsletter. Here are a couple of student comments: Ethan: “I enjoy adding positivity to the community through my articles.” Nico: “It is informative to parents so they can know what their kids are doing and not feel so separated.” Rowan: “I like the positive reaction from my parents when they read my articles.”
Several unanticipated outcomes have resulted from students chronicling their activities. It appears that this process has strengthened the important psychological skills of reflection and self-awareness. Instead of charging through an endless series of activities, students pause to think about the significance of what they experienced and endeavor to communicate it to others. In addition, the newsletter has stimulated many new and unique ideas about possible campus activities. Students are actively brainstorming ideas for projects with the thought of writing about them later. And of course, parents love having a window into their sons’ daily lives. It is truly noteworthy when one project can have so many beneficial effects.
About Valley View School
Valley View School is a small, private therapeutic boarding school serving boys in grades 6-12. Our campus is situated on 215 acres of forests and rolling hills in the heart of New England, just 90 miles outside of Boston.