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Otwell Middle students create newspaper for class project

CUMMING — Readers wanting to learn more about new soccer cleats, the best NBA players, Hasbro toy packs that lack female characters or do-it-yourself life hacks need go no further than the newspaper.

And not necessarily the Forsyth County News, but rather a newspaper created by a sixth-grade English language arts class at Otwell Middle School.

The Pulchritudinous News4Realsies won a contest between Alashia Cody’s five gifted classes at the school in Cumming, the second semester she has run the project.

Each class was tasked with creating a newspaper by researching topics, gathering information, writing articles and designing the layout, with other teachers and administrators judging the final products.

“Out of the five, this was the most organized,” Cody said.

Cody said she remained hands-off during the project in both semesters, allowing the students to follow their ideas with only guidance by her.

At the beginning of the year, she initiated the project to get her students to write and work together in a way different than simply creating a report or essay.

After the first draft was finished, she had the students edit each other’s articles on the screen in front of everyone.

Shaan Patel came up with the name of the paper when he remembered a vocabulary word he learned in fifth grade.

“Pulchritudinous means beautiful,” he said.

Patel also worked in a group that wrote two sports articles. One ranked the top five professional basketball players, while the other covered the newest professional soccer cleats.

Patel said he liked learning about the cleats the most.

“I played soccer and everything, so it was cool,” he said.

The pair he said he liked best was listed at $315.

The most difficult part, he said, was the time it took to research the information and to make the writing sound “so you know what you’re talking about.”

One change Cody made from the first semester to this project, she said, was that she let the students choose their own groups this time.

“So they would either fail with their friends or succeed with their friends,” she said.

Another article talked about a Star Wars action figure package that included multiple characters but not the main one, a young woman named Rey.

Allison Oldani and Olivia Thees said they found a letter a girl had written to Hasbro asking why the female character was not sold as an action figure, even though she was the protagonist.

They both said their favorite part was the girl’s letter.

They also said they liked writing about this topic because it’s something they care about and want other people to also know about.

“We’re girls. We’re feminists,” Thees said. “And they replaced Rey with a character that’s not even relevant.”

Oldani said after researching for this article she noticed other movies whose female characters were absent from game shelves.

“I’ve been to a few toy stores recently,” Thees said, “and I must say, it’s getting better, but I still didn’t see too many girl action figures.”