GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 7, 2013

Why Did My Newspaper Do That? Spreading around local school coverage


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — School’s in.

That’s not only exciting for students, parents, teachers and administrators across Gloucester and our Cape Ann towns of Rockport, Manchester and Essex. It also opens a lot of doors to interesting news and feature stories for us here at the Times.

As the school year goes forward, we will be looking toward covering all sorts of school stories — and not just stories about budgets, dollars, cents, teachers and other contracts, or disputes involving school committees or other city or town officials.

Science projects and fairs, visiting presentations, school plays and other arts projects, and anything else that goes on in the normal — or sometimes not so normal — case of the school day all tend to make good stories. And they keep readers — many of whom, we recognize, do not have children or grandchildren in the schools, and thus no contact with them — abreast of what is happening within their city or town’s education system.

But which schools do we cover, and why? The fact is, we try to balance our coverage among all three of our local school districts, and the schools within them, while also recognizing we can’t be at all of the schools at once.

This past Wednesday, for example, our opening-day school coverage in Gloucester focused on the students and parents arriving for their first day of the new year at Veterans Memorial School.

Yes, we recognized that all of the other schools were opening as well, and there was no doubt a lot of frenetic activity around each of the other elementary schools, as well as at O’Maley Innovation Middle School and at Gloucester High.

Why spotlight Veterans? Why, you may ask, would your community’s newspaper do that?

Because, for one thing, Veterans seemed to start the new school year with the most things, well, new. It is one of the two schools launching the city school district’s new universal breakfast program and it has a new principal in Matthew Fusco.

Now, as the school year goes forward, we may also learn of new programs being carried out in all of the elementary schools, or find that a touring outreach group will be making presentations in all of the schools at various times. And as those opportunities arise, we would likely not make a repeat visit to Veterans, but spotlight those activities at Beeman Memorial, Plum Cove, East Gloucester or West Parish to give readers a look at all of our schools — and at a diverse representation of students.

Some of our area schools, of course, may be in the limelight on their own as the new academic year advances. By most counts, this is expected to be the final year of use for the current West Parish School, with the city of Gloucester looking into firming up a location for housing the school’s roughly 380 students and 70 staffers beginning in the goal of 2014.

Other schools will no doubt be facing unique issues as well. And then, there will no doubt be reactions and followup stories after the reporting of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test scores once they’re released this fall.

But our goal is to showcase all of our schools — and the teaching and learning going on within their walls — on a rotating basis throughout this new school year, right up until the last day’s dismissal next June.

If you know of something happening at your school, by all means give us a call and bring it to our attention.

And as always, let me know what you think.

Questions? Comments? Is there a topic you’d like to see addressed in a future column? Contact Times Editor Ray Lamont at 978-283-7000, x3432, or at rlamont@gloucestertimes.com.