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With school out, sisters start newspaper for kids

While most of the students in the country are shut inside away from their friends, sisters Ava and Elaina Girton have found a way to reach out beyond the walls of their home to meet with other children around the world who are living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Outsider,” a newspaper that Ava and Elaina have begun creating, features interviews about children and by children, giving the reader a child’s eye view of what life is like living through this health crisis in other countries.

Ava, 11, and Elaina, 8, daughters of Todd and Kerri Girton, are students in the Williamsport Area School District.

The young journalists came up with the idea after school was initially canceled for two weeks in March.

“I thought maybe we should just start a little newspaper to just keep us busy for the two weeks,” Elaina said.

“Get some writing practice in,” interjected her sister.

Originally, the girls were going to name their publication “Quarantine Quotes,” but changed their minds.

“We changed it because we didn’t know if maybe we would do this after the quarantine,” Ava explained.

“We were just trying to talk about things that since we’re all stuck inside, things that are, happening outside,” Elaina added. So the name became “The Outsider.”

The April 12 issue of the girls’ newspaper features stories about children in Canada, Africa and England. The stories give insight into how children everywhere are processing what is happening around them during this crisis that is affecting the whole world.

“I like seeing what other people are doing,” Elaina said, “to go through this scary hard time,” her sister said, finishing the sentence.

Although the girls do the writing, they had help from a friend of their grandmother with facilitating interviews with children in other countries. Kerri Girton noted that the man has travelled worldwide.

“He knows a lot of people and he just hooks us up,” Ava said. “And we know some people from different countries too.”

“He gave us some people from countries that he knew and he knows people from a lot of countries,” Elaina added.

In order to conduct their interviews the girls have utilized online platforms, such as ZOOM, WhatsApp and Skype. Before they go online for the interviews, they come up with questions, an outline of what they want to cover, such as personal questions about their background so they can get to know the people better.

Do they have a favorite interview? The girls both agreed that they couldn’t decide, although their mother said that the interviews with people in English-speaking countries seem to go the easiest for her daughters. For interviews conducted in other languages, their grandmother’s friend helps with translating.

“I feel like those (the English speaking) are the ones that people will open up for, when there’s not somebody else hearing what they’re saying,” Ava said.

Their newspaper not only features stories, but also has a puzzle, some interesting facts and activities, plus a word from the “crew.”

After the time of social distancing is over, the girls said that they plan on continuing with their newspaper.

“It would be even more interesting if we kept doing it because there would me a lot more stuff to report,” Ava said.

Both Ava and Elaina said that they wanted their classmates to know that they miss everybody due to the shutdown.

“During school, it’s nice to know that I could just go back every day and see them, and now I can’t do that anymore,” Elaina said.

“Just because we learned that they canceled school, I’m just saying that we didn’t know that Friday was goodbye. We didn’t know that on that Friday we were saying goodbye to our friends for the rest of the year,” Ava said. “If we had known that we would have been able to do it like we do the end of the year.”

Ava noted that this year was Elaina’s last year at Hepburn-Lycoming Primary School. Next year she will be attending Lycoming Valley Intermediate School with her sister.

“This was her last year in her school, so she’s not going to get to see her teachers again,” Ava added.

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