GREENBRIER — Fifth grade students at Wooster Elementary School in the Greenbrier School District blazed a trail in journalism by producing their very own yearbook. The shipment that just arrived is only the fifth annual edition — but the first ever created largely with a Yearbook Staff of fifth grade students.

These young leaders analyzed perception data and set goals for the 2012-13 school year.  One of those goals included increasing student voice in the operations and decisions of the school.   Their brainstorming sessions were led by computer lab Manager and Yearbook Advisor, Anita Harris. This action gave the student leaders a great amount of input on how their final school year at Wooster Elementary should be documented. Some of the tasks and roles included: choosing design and layout for pages, determining font styles and sizes, reviewing digital photos, interviewing teachers and staff, writing, typing, designing promo posters and flyers, selling yearbooks, entering receipts in the computer, performing skits, attending staff meetings, photographing events and people, and distribution.

Harris said, "As far as we know it’s the first time a group of students this young has attempted such a task." This group of 19 students with various backgrounds and interests "really pulled together to make an outstanding product ... and we could learn a lot from them as adults about how to have fun and get a job done!"

The students actually applied for staff positions by completing an application that was reviewed by staff and administration. Selection of students was decided on the basis of who could make the greatest contribution to this important project as well as take on the extra responsibilities.  

Principal Kelli McGaha-Martin gave plenty of praise to these young leaders saying, "We’ve been telling the students from the beginning that they are "pioneers" and the first group in this region to accomplish such a project.  We know that project-based learning is crucial to our professional learning community and teaches students cooperation and communication skills needed for 21st century careers. We also know now that students, even at the elementary level, can help make some very important decisions about their schools to improve school culture even more."

Talented students on the 2013 Yearbook Staff are: Andrew Benson, Cody Conboy, Ada Fulmer, Caelan Geach, Kaitlyn Hartman, Landon Headrick, Emma Henning, Gabe Hinton, Bret Irby, Nova Lott, Zach Mauldin, Talon Moore, Mabree Morgason, Anna Newton, Grace Oaks, Vivian Pryor, Jamie Riehle, Sheyanne Smith, and Madi Spears. On arrival of their shipment, these young leaders enjoyed a private viewing party as part of their reward for jobs well done. They enjoyed "first peeks" before distributing to the rest of the students and staff throughout the week. With this success, Wooster intends to continue and improve upon this tradition in the future.