Bedford middle paper Ursus is a roaring hit

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Bedford middle paper Ursus is a roaring hit

Jane Levy, Features Editor

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Staffed by 33 eighth graders and advised by Inklings’ former adviser of ten years, Stephen Rexford, Ursus has made its debut as Bedford Middle School’s official newspaper.

“I took all the stuff about how to write stories, using proper AP style and ethics from the Inklings handbook, and made it more applicable to the eighth grade level,” Rexford said. “With the help of supportive administration, I started Ursus.”

The name of the paper was generated with the help of the Bedford class of 2014, and is derived from the Latin word for bear, “ursa,” because the school mascot is the Bedford Bear.

“Ursus is a weird name and makes people go, ‘What?’ which I think helps with marketing,” Rexford said.

Their first issue (split into five sections, including news, opinions, features, arts and entertainment and sports) was released in October. The articles span from Maria Maisonet ’19’s reporting on the eighth grade field trip to Mountain Workshop to an article by Anna Rhodes ’19 about new Bedford teachers.

The middle school students interview, write, take photographs and layout the pages of the paper all outside of class. They have a meeting after school every Tuesday, and have six days of layout and one late-night layout before the paper goes to the printer.

Both Maisonet and Rhodes find interviewing one of the best parts of their Ursus experience. “It’s fun asking people, like the principal, more personal questions because then you get to figure out who they actually are,” Maisonet said.

Another staff member, Zach Abourezk ’19, appreciates the differences in Ursus compared to a sport, as he is also a football player. “It’s a different kind of hard work,” he laughed. “You don’t get injuries. Or physical ones, at least.”

When creating a paper for the middle school, “the emphasis is more on coverage,” Rexford said. “I try to get the kids on Ursus to think about how they can get more people in the paper, more pictures, more names,” Rexford said.

With this in mind, Rhodes sometimes struggles to word her articles effectively “because we want kids to be interested in it, but we also want it to be professional,” she said.

Additionally, Maisonet finds it difficult to stay within the word count of her articles, as she has “so much to say.”

As the staff and Rexford joke around about their pizza party at their late-night layout and the fun they have at after-school meetings, Rexford’s passion for advising shines through.

“Advising is the best way to teach writing and to get kids problem-solving and thinking critically about school and national issues,” he said.

Bedford has welcomed the new addition to their school and Rexford acknowledges the support. “Dr. Rosen, the principal at Bedford, has been very supportive of us and the faculty always asks if we need help with anything,” Rexford said.

Not only does Ursus have the encouragement of its school, but also that of the town. “[Westport] really understands what media and journalism is all about,” he said. “There are not a lot of towns that do.”

Even students appreciate their community providing them with journalistic opportunities at a young age.

“With Ursus, we have more responsibility,” Rhodes said. “But we also have more freedom.”

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