The Write Stuff

Malibu Middle School seventh-graders Scarlette Tidy and Samantha Holst display their school's first edition of The Surfwriter fresh off the press. The two collaborated on an article about the latest fashion trends. Photo by Damien Weaver

Malibu Middle School has a voice of its own for the first time in the school’s history, thanks to the efforts of its seventh and eighth grade journalism students.

The Surfwriter made its print debut last week with articles ranging from student government to the latest fashion trends. No longer sharing space with their counterparts at the high school newspaper, The Current, the new publication gives the students its own forum to address the issues that more directly affect them at the middle school.

Seventh-grader Sean Needle is `accredited with the creation of the name for the paper, said one thing he most enjoyed was getting the recognition of helping make The Surfwriter happen.

Students remained enthusiastic about the project as they worked through the school year. Some devoted extra time after school for editing and other fine-tuning.

Journalism teacher David Warshawski said, “They surpassed my expectations. They came in genuinely excited and worked so hard…it was very impressive.”

From reporting to editing, the students were entirely responsible for filling each role in the production process, with several of them taking on more than one position. Though treading in the unfamiliar territory of creating the publication, the students tackled the challenge with tenacity and, said their teacher, were able to work with a great deal of autonomy.

“I taught them, they wrote it,” Warshawski said.

Each member made their own contribution but a common feeling among The Surfwriter team was the sense of pride and ownership in watching months of hard work culminate on the printed page.

“It was really cool to see it printed right in front of us,” said seventh-grader Flora Greeson who worked on the paper.

Eighth-grader Ari Anderson, who helped with the layout of the front page and the people section, calls it an “experience I’ll use for a long time.”

Many of the students plan to continue working on the paper next year and in high school. For some it has sparked an interest in pursuing a career in journalism later in life.