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Students in the news

When it comes to keeping up with all the news at Lake Elmo Elementary School, the Gopher Gazette is the place to turn.

Written, edited and published entirely by students, the Gopher Gazette is the oldest elementary school newspaper in the district.

The first edition of the Gopher Gazette was published on April 27, 1979 after a group of fourth, fifth and sixth graders decided they wanted to start a school newspaper.

Now in its 24th year, the paper has a student staff of about 50 kids and school librarian Nancy Prince serves as the paper's advisor.

"I like working with the sixth graders in a more informal setting," Prince said.

To become a staff member, students have to be in either the fourth, fifth or sixth grade, fill out an application and write a sample article.

And besides the staff of writers and artists, the Gopher Gazette is led by an editorial board comprised of sixth graders.

Because the Gopher Gazette is so well-known at Lake Elmo Elementary, Prince said there is actually competition to become a staff member.

"The students has to be a good writer, since everyone has to write at some point," Prince said about how staff members are chosen.

This year's editorial board includes eight students: Ashley Meyers, co-managing editor and layout editor; Matt Ruoho, co-managing editor and sports editor; Whitney Novak, news and features editor; Kelly Erickson, secretary; Laura Rau, typing chair; Kaylee Gombold, puzzles and games editor; Rachel Scholz, circulation manager; Brittany Carlson and Alli Hansen, staff artists; and Jake Schmiesing and Alec Strop, staff photographers.

"You get to socialize with your friends and you get to express your feelings about things," Meyers said about the best part of working on the paper.

The Gopher Gazette publishes nine issues a year and each issue is six pages in length. Page one is the front page and includes the months top stories. Page two includes stories about teachers and staff members and lists all the students who contributed to the paper. Page three is reserved for sports, while page four is the features page. Page 5 includes puzzles and games and page six is the school calendar.

Each issues takes about a month to publish, with different tasks assigned each week.

During week one, the editorial board meets to brainstorm story ideas and discuss possible topics and themes of the puzzles and games page. Assignments are also distributed to the different writers.

Week two is the typing week. After the story assignments are handed in, typing chair Laura Rau is in charge of getting everything typed up and ready to lay out.

The paper's layout is completed during week three and its a process that involves the entire editorial board.

Prince said the students lay out the paper by hand instead of using a publishing program since it allows them to be more creative and gets everyone involved.

The fourth and final week is used to make copies and distribute the paper to the entire school.

Most of the artwork used in the Gopher Gazette is done by students and the puzzles and games are all student created.

The editorial board is also in charge of editing all of the stories, but Prince does have final say on editorial decisions.

Editorial board members also write an editorial for the paper, and have even tackled some controversial subjects.

"At least two have gotten some action by the PTA," Prince said.