It was as hectic as any newsroom. Editors huddled around stories suggesting rewrites and demanding unanswered questions be asked before deadline.
Reporters rushed with eager eyes to sources they could question. The most popular sources for this newspaper were teachers.
But there is something different about the LMES Report newsroom: The reporters are third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.
"I am looking to inspire a new generation of reporters," said parent Verina Palmer Martin, a former Tribune reporter whose children attend Lone Mountain Elementary School in the Cave Creek Unified School District.
In September, Martin — who left in 1999 to become a freelance reporter and now writes for the Society of Professional Journalists newsletter — took a chance at starting a new concept: An elementary school newspaper.
Though challenging, her goal is to inspire students to demand middle school and high school newspapers tell students about their school community, and to either write or read the news when they become adults.
"I want to let them know newspapers can create a change in society," she said. "I have always loved reporting. I want them to know the power of the First Amendment."
Her desk is in the center of a high-tech elementary media center lined with state-of-theart black flat-screen computers. As students put finishing touches on their stories, she handed out new photo ID press passes that the students clipped onto their shirts with pride.
Principal Denise Horn beamed as about 40 students worked on the final touches of the school’s first LMES Report, its press run scheduled for the end of the semester.
The school wants to publish two newspapers during the second half of the year. The pages will be filled with news, features, teacher and staff profiles, sports coverage and even fashion advice.
Horn said the newspaper project has the students enthusiastic about reading and writing — focal points of the school’s curriculum and improvement plan, she said.
Gigi Powers’ son, Jack, aspires to draw comics for the eight-page newspaper.
"When I was their age, I was playing with Barbie dolls," she said. "They’re writing articles for a newspaper."
Martin said she hopes to inspire more newspapers in schools across the Valley.
"I’m concerned that newspapers or journalism teachers may be on the decline," she said. She offered to help parents in other areas start up a similar paper.
She can already see the students growing.
"When they first turned in their story assignments, all their stories began with ‘I,’ " she said. "Kids only see things from their perspective. I made them go back and take themselves out of their stories. They are starting to look outside of themselves."