One local student’s excitement for journalism has sparked the interest of an entire school in Brantley County and he’s nowhere near done just yet.
Grant Bennett is the editor and publisher of Nahunta Elementary School’s NES Gazzette which is published about four times a semester by an in-house news team of top-notch reporters.
Regularly the team meets at the school to pull together all the news that’s fit to print – on standard printer paper – and Bennett send the teams off to find out what’s happening all around the school and suggest topics from bullying to book reviews.
“My teacher Ms. Diana Carter brought up the topic that she did a newspaper,” he said. “I just thought from that it would be pretty cool to do that.”
Bennett said he started then but didn’t have enough time to put it together. But when he began working on the project again this year with the help of teacher Ashley Booth the idea caught fire.
“She was very enthusiastic about it when I first brought up the idea and then we talked to Dr. [Tim] Sawyer and it just worked out a bunch that everything came out exactly as planned.”
Bennett said he wasn’t originally that interested in writing but that there was something different about this project – something that enticed him.
“When it comes to the journalism topic where you can put mainly whatever you think should be put in there without a limit on it, that really clicked me in because I like stuff like that,” he said.
Part of the ability to do that came from having a team of hand-picked writers that Bennett said he chose based on various items they’d written and their willingness to work to put out the paper. The sixth grade editor said he looked for creativity and imagination in the writing when he first assembled his team of students C.J. Tumlin, Regan Perkins, Thomas Albright, Sierra Santiago and Brenna Boyett and that they have played a major role in putting the paper together.
For Bennett discipline is also something he expects from his writers while he also expects depth from their writing – things he learned early on.
“When getting the student of the week [story] you have to ask the teachers what [the students] are doing,” he said. “Don’t try and wing it – that was a main thing for me.”
Bennett has also used his paper to take a stand on issues he felt were important to students including bullying which he tackled in the very first issue he put together.
“It was in the first one; we said bullying gets you nowhere and stuff like that,” he said.
Overall the project has gotten easier each time, he said, from taking months to finish a single issue to having the last one done in just three days. All the while, Bennett said that the project is helping him gather his thoughts more clearly when writing.
Bennett said he also reads several books, magazines and newspapers to get ideas for how to write his stories.
And Brantley’s youngest newspaper editor plans to keep the project going. He is already looking for people to take his place for next year and to take over in other capacities in the fledgling newspaper when he starts at Brantley County Middle School next year.
Bennett hopes to speak with principal Angela Haney about starting a new paper at the middle school as well.
No doubt he already has the support of his current principal.
“He’s not only driven to make the newspaper happen, but also to make sure it’s very well done. He’s got a great blend of intelligence, creativity, and determination,” Principal Sawyer said. “In addition, he’s just a pleasure to be around – he’s a great kid!”
His advice for others wanting to get involved with journalism, or anything else, is simple.
“Never hold back,” he said. “If you want something, go for it until you achieve it; never stop.”
That advice seems to be working well for him, too, since he promised to dye his hair black if the paper sold over 300 copies and will soon need to fulfill his end of the bargain.
Bennett said the paper not only met the goal but surpassed it.