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Influence of Our Voice

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We’ve all read a newspaper. In fact, we are reading one right now. Some people may choose to read it cover to cover, others read what interests them most and then go back and read the rest, and others only read the sections that interest them. As a child, my favorite part was the Sunday comics. Whatever your preference, the common ground we can all be found on is that we are seeking some information and maybe a little entertainment.

Our Voice, the Elgin Elementary newspaper, began when fourth grade teacher, Ms. Bradley, mentioned to her colleague, Ms. Wehrle, that she used to teach writing and would love to have an opportunity to support students in a writing project that involved community outreach and would culminate in a published product. Now, published at school means something very different than published in a newspaper. It means that students will write a draft, edit and revise it, and then create their final “published” copy—on notebook paper. Published in a newspaper, well, that looks like this.

As they brainstormed their ideas, the ideas began to grow and before they knew it, Our Voice was born. They approached me with their proposal, which included not just how it would benefit our school and our community, but how it was an additional academic opportunity for students. In addition to providing students with an outlet for their creativity, they would also be addressing our state standards or Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

The Our Voice team includes fourth and fifth grade students from Elgin Elementary. They are advised by teachers, Blanche Bradley, Katy Fangman and Megan Wehrle. Mrs. Fangman, our Gifted and Talented teacher, guides responsible writing outside of the regular classroom during campus enrichment time. When the Our Voice writers and advisors realized that they didn’t have all of the expertise needed to start and maintain a newspaper, they went directly to the experts at the Elgin Courier. Heather Ott of the Elgin Courier has been the Our Voice coach we needed to get the project off the ground.

Our Voice meets twice a month to brainstorm newsworthy events, conduct research, plan interviews and learn about the responsibility of the press. Recently, Sharon and Michael Matthew, parents of one of our writers, began supporting Our Voice with an electronic platform. That’s right! Our Voice will be online soon.

The writers at Elgin Elementary understand that in order for our student-led newspaper to be successful, it must appeal to people’s many different interests. We are especially excited about capturing the attention of Elgin’s young readers and we feel we are off to a great start. We hope you enjoy Our Voice.

See Our Voice, a student newspaper from Elgin Elementary School, on page 7A of this week's Elgin Courier or online at

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