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Students lead the news cycle at Brooklyn Prospect's Career Day

When Brooklyn Prospect Charter School students next sit down to work on their school newspaper, they shouldn’t have any trouble coming up with stories to cover.

As one of more than 20 speakers at Brooklyn Prospect’s Career Day, I spent the morning talking with eighth-graders about what it’s like to work as a journalist. Newly armed with knowledge about the distinctions among news, features, and opinion writing, the students broke into small groups to brainstorm article ideas about their school.

One big piece of news, the students said, is that Brooklyn Prospect has hired a principal for its high school, which will open in September. A feature story might take an in-depth look at how the school has changed now that it is located inside Bishop Ford High School after leaving the Sunset Park High School building. And opinion columns could make the case for or against the required uniform, a green or white polo shirt with black or khaki pants.

The students pointed to one story that could easily be tackled in any of the categories: a new “no hugging” rule.

Some said a reporter would find that students dislike the new regulation because it squelches their ability to connect with each other. But others said the real story is that overzealous hugging had become an issue at the school.

Dan Rubinstein, the school’s founder, said the policy sounded more draconian than it is. The rule was intended to stop hallway disruptions before they became problematic, he said.

That kind of proactive approach has run through many of the decisions made at the three-year old charter school, Rubinstein said. And now that the school is on the verge of opening its high school, the choices are coming quickly.

The decision about who should helm the high school was finalized earlier this month. Kim Raccio, currently an assistant head of a British school that enrolls many American students, got the job after a selection process that included students, parents, and teachers, Rubinstein said.

It’s also nearing time to settle on a mascot for the school. While I was speaking with Rubinstein, two students in the “Underground Art Club” stopped by his office to float student-generated ideas that included the Narwhals, the Parrots, and the Red Squirrels.

(I was invited to speak at Brooklyn Prospect’s Career Day by Kelly Vaughan, a member of GothamSchools’ founding team who now teaches sixth-grade science there. But you don’t have to know a GothamSchools reporter to invite us to your school!)

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