RAHWAY, NJ — Scholastic Corp. announced recently that Rahway student Sasha Powell, a 12-year-old seventh-grader who attends the Rahway 7th and 8th Grade Academy, has been selected to join the award-winning Scholastic Kid Press program, which is a team of 36 Kid Reporters from all over the world that reports “news for kids, by kids.”
According to a press release about the program, during the 2021-2022 school year, Powell will interview leaders and experts in her community about the topics that matter most to children. Kid Reporter stories are published on the Scholastic Kids Press website and featured in select issues of Scholastic Magazines+, which reach more than 25 million students in U.S. classrooms.
Powell detailed the exciting opportunity, mentioning the lengthy application process.
“The Scholastic Kids Press is basically a program where kids from around the world, from ages 10-14, cover a bunch of topics and things they are interested in in their community, state, town. I don’t think we travel, but we do get to have many opportunities throughout this program,” Powell said on Friday, Oct. 1. “First, I did some research, and I did apply. It wasn’t a nomination or anything. It was a long process to actually apply. I had to write about a person or an organization making a difference in my community. I also had to write two ideas I had for writing stories, and then I had to write why I wanted to join. It was a really fun process that I was able to do. The applications opened in March of this year.”
Powell said her passion for journalism as a reporter for the morning announcements at her school led to the opportunity of being a Kid Reporter for the Scholastic Kids Press.
“Aspiring to be a reporter has been a passion of mine. Maybe it’ll change later on, because I’m still growing, but I think being a reporter is really fun,” Powell said. “In my school, I actually was a reporter for my morning announcements, and everyone said, ‘You have a nice reporter voice, and you should become a reporter one day.’ I think it was always in the back of my mind to do the morning announcements.
“The morning announcements were in my elementary school and were voluntary, but because of COVID, during virtual times, I would record it myself and send it off to my teachers. But when we were in person, there would be a big camera set up and we would read off the little script with the principal and that’s how we would do it,” she continued.
“I think everyone is different. Some people love math and want to do many things with it, for example,” added Powell. “For me, writing has always stood out to me. When I was younger, I was writing stories. I would write many stories, and it just led from there, and then I finally decided to research some programs that can actually put this passion into motion. So that’s when I found Scholastic Kids Press.”
Powell said she thought there was a lot of stuff that made her stand out. She said they really liked her writing skills and how she conducted the interview. She printed everything, including the interview write-ups, and sent them off, all in a pink envelope decorated with stickers. She suspects that’s why she stood out to them.
“So, my editor, Susan McCabe, she has already reached out to me, so I can start right away interviewing people,” Powell continued. “I did get some practice interviewing people when I applied to this program…. Also, I think I’m going to interview someone else, as I’m working on a new story right now.”
Grateful for the opportunity, Powell said she is looking forward to interviewing the people in her community and in New Jersey. She said she was really curious about people, but if there was anyone she could interview, it would be Mariah Carey, because she would like to know how she feels about having such a high level of fame.
“This feels like such a great opportunity that I was chosen, and, at 12 years old, it’s actually a crazy experience and I know this is my first year doing this, so I can’t wait for all the things I’m about to embark on, all the people I may interview and write stories on,” she said. “I definitely feel excited and I feel good about it.”
Suzanne McCabe, Powell’s Scholastic Kids Press editor, said Powell is the only Kid Reporter from Rahway and one of three Kid Reporters from New Jersey.
“Once they’re in the program, our Kid Reporters write stories from their communities about topics that are important to them and their peers,” McCabe said on Friday, Oct. 1. “I work with each of them throughout the year to edit their stories and to help them craft questions and secure interviews with relevant sources.
“Whenever we’re reviewing Kid Reporter applications, we’re paying close attention to students’ writing ability, interviewing skills and attention to detail,” she continued. “Sasha’s passion for writing and her innate sense of curiosity really made her application stand out, and we were impressed by her news article about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses in her community. I am definitely looking forward to seeing what other local stories Sasha uncovers in Rahway this year.”
McCabe said Scholastic Kids Press is an educational program, so the Kid Reporters gain experience working with an editor as part of an award-winning team of young journalists, while building their critical thinking and writing skills, as well as their confidence. She said it’s incredible to see how Kid Reporters transform while they’re in the program and that a number of former Scholastic Kid Reporters have gone on to become professional journalists.
McCabe said she has helped many Kid Reporters throughout the years find writing opportunities once they leave the program. Many have transitioned to working on their high school newspaper and have gone on to receive local and national recognition for their writing in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the nation’s longest-running program for creative teens in grades 7-12.
“Sasha had already hit the ground running, and she’s writing her first story as a Scholastic Kid Reporter,” McCabe said. “She pitched a story about the damage caused to trees by spotted lanternflies and is now seeking out experts at local universities to interview. The great thing about the Scholastic Kids Press program is that our Kid Reporters work at their own pace, so we encourage them to pitch story ideas that they’re interested in and work on those stories when it fits with their schedules — school is always the first priority.”
Scholastic Kids Press will open the next call for applications in March 2022. When that happens, students, teachers and families can visit scholastic.com/kidspress to download the Kid Reporter application. The application process includes writing an original news article and a personal essay, and coming up with potential story ideas.
Photos Courtesy of Fatima Powell and Brittany Sullivan of Scholastic Corp.