Good coverage is hard to achieve when staff members sit in the room and hope that the stories will come to them. Sure, you can try to light some incense and pray to the gods of feature writing, but with your luck, you’ll probably just set off the smoke alarms.
Well if your school has a homeroom or advisory class, how about assigning each staff member to a teacher. That way the staffers “adopt” a particular homeroom class. It is the goal of each staff member to get “THEIR” advisory students into the book at least two times.
To accomplish this, your staff members should get to know their adopted class. Start with a school-wide survey to find out about the students there and then send the staffers in to dig a little deeper to find the hidden gems. Once they get to know their group, class conferences should be full of people suggestions. For example:
Editor: We’re doing a story on sports that students play outside of school. Who do we know out there?
Staffer #1: A kid in my homeroom is a competitive gymnast.
Staffer #2: Yeah, one in my homeroom has a black belt in Judo.
Staffer #3: I’ve got an Irish dancer in my homeroom.
Hyde Middle School has been doing this since the beginning of the school year. They have three giant binders full of surveys and the students look through them for ideas. Recently I challenged them to a contest: find THE MOST UNUSUAL story or person in your advisory class. Three winners would be selected to win In-And-Out gift cards. Imagine their excitement when they found a student who . . .
–has collected over 400 Tech Decks (little skateboards)
–is a competitive rock climber
–volunteers at the Red Cross and an animal shelter 15 hours a week
–can walk on stilts
–has collected Legos since he was 6 years old
–collects sand from around the world
–is a synchronized swimmer
–competes in Brazilian martial arts
So find those stories and people hiding on your campus. Your readers will LOVE the book and learning about their fellow students.