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Eighth-grade journalism students speak out

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
Sept. 28, 2003
Eighth graders in Frances White's journalism class at Kate Griffin Junior High have taken issue with a recent editorial in The Meridian Star. And I couldn't be happier.
In a class assignment, 11 of them wrote letters to the editor in response to an editorial titled "Getting with the program," which ran in The Star on Sept. 7. The editorial dealt with school performance ratings released by the Mississippi Department of Education.
Making headway
The editorial riled some students and teachers at Kate Griffin and journalism students in Ms. White's class were particularly expressive.
Sherisa Strother wrote, "Have you ever taken time out of your day and thought, hey, maybe the majority of these students have a hard time understanding the work?"
Excellent school
Danielle Lara wrote that Kate Griffin is "an excellent school with excellent teachers."
Raenica Bryant posed the question, "Have you heard that we improved our test scores last year? It is very rude for you to tell us that we need to get with the program … You should have been encouraging us instead of discouraging us."
Similar sentiments were expressed by Darren Johnson, Miles Sims, LaBrittany Jordan, Nicholas Blake, Heather Ahmie, Mystic Davis and Bettsha Bell.
Several of them invited me to visit Kate Griffin, which I hope to do soon. As a product of Meridian public schools Oakland Heights, Kate Griffin and Meridian High I would enjoy the opportunity to return. I also have invited Ms. White and her class here to The Star for an up close look at how our community's newspaper is produced every day.
The hand-written letters delivered by Ms. White the other day were clear and to the point. The students took the time to express their opinions, exercising First Amendment rights. They had a point of view, which shows that they thought through two fundamental issues in education today test scores and performance ratings. And the fact that they read, considered and even disagreed with the editorial makes me proud of them.
Strictly defined, the profession of journalism involves gathering, writing, editing and publishing or broadcasting news. Fortunately, there is also a major place at the table for commentary and opinion. Editorials should stimulate discussion and I'm pleased that this one did. May it ever be so.
I hope these Kate Griffin eighth-graders continue to express themselves. Maybe some of them will even choose journalism as a career. We need them.