Extra! Extra! Barking Bulldog publishes first issue at Bridgeport Elementary!

The Barking Bulldog staff spent the fall learning about newspapers and producing their own at Bridgeport Elementary School. Courtesy Photo
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Inside the chatter of a busy newsroom, the crack reporting staff of the Barking Bulldog was getting a lesson in deadlines on the eve of their first edition.

Keagan Blackmer works against deadline to finish his review of for the Barking Bulldog. Holly Goodman/Tualatin Life

“Ok, you have 30 minutes to file your stories,” Daniel Bachhuber told the roomful of kids huddled around iPads trying to finish their reviews or comics, short stories, recipes, and advice columns.

Bachhuber co-led Bridgeport Elementary’s after-school newspaper club last fall with his wife, Leah Bachhuber, introducing a group of 18 2nd-5th graders to newspaper basics.

During the Barking Bulldogs’ six meetings, the group learned about news writing principles, editing, comics, reviews, fiction, and advice columns – all the stuff readers love.

Comics were the overwhelming student favorite, with about half the club choosing comic strips for their final Barking Bulldog submissions.

The Wednesday afternoon offering was among a half dozen or so after-school activities Bridgeport students could choose from to extend their school day and expand their learning.

About 150 kids participate in various clubs every semester, according to the school’s administrative assistant, Cathy Garcia.

The school’s running club draws upwards of 100 students every spring, but chess, soccer, basketball, cooking, and drama have also been popular.

Newspaper club advisor Leah Bachhuber works with students as they finalize stories. Holly Goodman/Tualatin Life

Some, like the newspaper club, are run by parent volunteers, and others are headed by teachers.

Daniel is a veteran club leader. Before launching the Barking Bulldog this fall, he organized a Maker’s Space and helmed a coding club.

He and Leah, who have two kids at Bridgeport, decided to pull from their past journalism experience this fall to introduce the newspaper. Daniel is a former photojournalist, and Leah, who left the profession to become a nurse, ran a magazine in Nepal after earning a journalism degree at the University of Oregon.

“We thought this would be a fun idea for the kids to observe their community and learn about a career prospect,” she said. 

Week by week, they introduced the club, whose youngest members are still learning how to write, to news principles like inverted pyramid style, which organizes articles from the most crucial information at the top and funnels down to less vital details.

They used news-themed MadLibs as a fun and funny way to practice using various elements of language. 

“What surprised me was how engaged they all are,” Leah said. “I was not expecting that. They’re thrilled to be making something and to see their product.”

The product was four pages of stories – including a short fiction piece in Spanish – and original comics printed on standard 8 ½ x 11 paper and distributed to every classroom and each club member. 

Daniel originally hoped to print the paper on traditional newsprint, but doing such a small run proved to be cost-prohibitive. Instead, local printshop Graphic Expressions donated its services to bring the paper to life.

Fourth grader Jon Hovies, a dual language immersion student, said his Diario de Zombi (Zombie Diary) was inspired by real events that he fictionalized by adding a zombie attack.

Next to it on the front page, Keegan Blackmer reviewed an author talk by Diary of A Wimpy Kid writer Jeff Kinney, and Lilah Defries shared a short history of Good Luck Trolls.

“We did a reporting week and learned you can find cool stories anywhere. You just have to think about it for a moment,” Leah said. “They all took a moment to think about some cool things they could write a story about and came up with all sorts of really fun things.”

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