Coming soon: News by Montclair’s kids, for Montclair’s kids
By ERIN ROLL
If you are a student who is interested in writing, art or multimedia — or if you are the parent of such a student — Rachel Wyman would like to hear from you.
Wyman, the owner of the Montclair Bread Company, hopes to help start a news project with content produced by students living in Montclair.
If all goes well, Wyman said, the project could launch in March, with the goal of having quarterly news cycles. She’s hoping it could have print and online editions.
The news project is meant to give children an outlet to express their creative skills and a chance to have a project they can focus on during remote learning.
Wyman said her two children — a son in sixth grade and a daughter in seventh — are struggling badly with virtual learning.
Montclair public schools have been closed to in-person learning since March 2020, and it is unclear at this time when they will reopen. The district and the Montclair Education Association are locked in a dispute over returning to in-person classes, and the district has sued the union, alleging members’ refusal to return amounts to an illegal teachers strike.
In late January, Wyman put out a call on Montclair Bread Company’s Facebook page and through the bakery’s newsletter for students who wanted to submit content, and for media professionals who were interested in getting involved as mentors.
“The pandemic has been hard on our community, so we’re looking at ways to channel all the amazing creativity of kids in K-12 who live in Montclair,” Wyman wrote. “Help us create a blockbuster online publication with reporting, photography, poetry, interviews, reviews and cartoons from your students. We’re also looking for puzzles, artwork and recipes.”
One student suggested a section for reviews of takeout food.
Wyman emphasized that she herself was not a media professional.
“Right now, I see myself as a connector,” she said — she’s working to get people in touch with one another for the project.
Wyman’s life partner, Brad, is a photojournalist who has worked with The Associated Press, among other media outlets.
Jaime Bedrin, another parent who is involved, said, “We’re so fortunate that there’s so many people in this community with a wide range of talents.” Bedrin coordinated a newspaper project at Charles H. Bullock called “CHB Buzz.” One of Wyman’s children was in the class.
Wyman said she felt the voices of students were being forgotten amid all the fighting between parents, teachers and school officials over a possible return to in-person learning.
Within a day of putting out her call on Facebook, she had heard from numerous people in town who wanted to get involved, including one Facebook employee and people who worked with several of the major media outlets in the tri-state area.
Nine-year-old Eddie Rice, a student at Bradford, plans to participate in the project.
His parents, Andrew and Jen, are journalists. Eddie said he was interested in doing a story on the father of one of his friends, who was getting ready to have a book published.