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‘It really matters’

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Fifth-graders Dafne Garcia, left, Diego Andreu, center, and Oscar Duran, right, work on a story for La Prensa, Coronado Elementary School’s dual language newspaper on Jan. 18, 2018. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A few years ago, Coronado Elementary teacher Lauren Gutierrez had a vision for a bilingual newspaper that would help students improve their Spanish and connect to their community.

Today, La Prensa – “the press” – is published at the end of each month, sharing stories and photos from around the Downtown Albuquerque dual-language school.

The newspaper launched in 2016 with the support of a $50,000 Guhl Literacy Award granted by the APS Education Foundation for expenses such as Chromebooks and voice recorders.

Gutierrez said La Prensa has exceeded her expectations.

Coronado Elementary’s newspaper club – a group of about 20 fourth- and fifth-graders – serve as reporters, editors and photographers, meeting twice a week to brainstorm, write and revise. Different classes also volunteer to write articles about something they’ve learned in a lesson.

Fourth-grader Aaron Arballo shows a copy of La Prensa, Coronado Elementary School’s dual-language newspaper. The Downtown Albuquerque school launched La Prensa in 2016. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

“There is a real sense of motivation and ownership,” Gutierrez said. “They (the students) really care. It really matters.”

At a recent club meeting, the kids flipped through back issues to point out their favorite stories, with topics ranging from a Day of the Dead parade to the student council races and a bosque ecology lesson.

Aaron Arballo, 10, particularly liked visiting one of Coronado’s art classes to cover their photography projects for the November 2017 edition. The fourth-grader also knows his way around a camera.

“I’d like to be a news photographer,” Arballo said. “That would be fun.”

Cienna Mazotti, 11, has enjoyed diving into research on a topic and sharing what she’s learned.

For the latest edition of La Prensa, she and her friend, Dafne Garcia, will write about cancer awareness fundraisers.

Gutierrez said a consistent challenge is gathering information in English, then crafting a good translation.

The students also work on skills like formulating interview questions and writing tight articles.

Eventually, Gutierrez would like to see them get outside the school more often to find stories in the community.

“The program has tons of potential,” Gutierrez said. “I hope it’s replicated at other schools.”

Coronado Principal Anna Marie Ulibarri lauded Gutierrez for launching the newspaper and energizing her students.

“That’s what it takes – a visionary like her,” Ulibarri said. “It takes dedication.”

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