The New Haven Student Journalism Project
I started the NHSJP in 2011 to bring the joy and power of journalism to New Haven Public School students. We started at Celentano School, but since 2013 have been anchored at East Rock Community School supported by Yale’s Office of New Haven and State Affairs. The after school program has 35-50 student journalists in grades 2-8 working in reporting teams with Yale mentors to produce The East Rock Record. The newspaper is published twice a year; we distribute 3,000 copies throughout the New Haven community and to state legislators.
NHSJP reporters cover the most important stories of the day. Reporters tracked the 2016 election, from primary through Election Day and organized a mock election for fellow students. Students early on reported on New Haven’s sanctuary city status and how Trump’s approaches to issues, including immigration, are playing in their community. Reporters cover urgent issues as well as lighter fare. They have tackled food security, gun violence, computer hacking — and the popularity of Pokemon and rumors of ghosts in the girl’s bathroom.
Reporters have interviewed prominent leaders — including Mayor Toni Harp and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferrick — during press conferences held in the school. They have met street youth workers and food pantry organizers, police officers, and school department officials, including COO William Clark. Reporters have hosted guest artists, including muralist Kwadwo Adae, filmmaker Phen Dest (and subject Henry Green), the Long Wharf Theatre cast of Brownsville Song, the Yale Wiffenpoofs and musician José Oyola. Reporters have interviewed experts in medicine, public health, bullying, and Ebola. They travel each spring to the state Capitol in Hartford to meet and interview lawmakers and visit with political reporters in the press room.
The finished newspaper is of very high quality. But the greatest value is the student engagement in the process. Students must constantly think, observe and make meaning out of events and ideas. From brainstorming to publication, reporters are responsible for thinking and sharing. This project — like much about writing — is about exercising curiosity, learning to ask questions and communicating what they know (and on opinion pages, what they believe). We value social skills and civility. Each issue has a publication party with community guests, teachers and family members who celebrate — as reporters practice their conversational and hosting skills (including cutting and serving cake). Follow us on Instagram.