Junior Letters to the Editor

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Junior Letters to the Editor

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A few months ago, English teacher Mrs. Schulte assigned her Junior students the task of writing a letter to the editor of the Helena Independent Record. All of her junior English students wrote argumentative letters on topics they were interested in, edited them, paired them down, and then had them submitted to the editor to be published in the newspaper. “I asked that they bring in Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, and research to give themselves credibility. They drafted the letters, we corrected the letters, and then a little while later they had to edit the letters down so they fit the parameters of the Helena IR, and then they submitted them,” Schulte said.

This was Mrs. Schulte’s first year doing this assignment and she thinks it went pretty well. About 50 letters were submitted and so far most of them have been published. “I think it’s a really good experience for the kids to see their names in print, and also if they read the letters to see that people comment on them. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not good, but just to have to deal with criticism from other people that may or may not know what they’re talking about.” One of her goals was to help kids accept criticism from others and to learn from it in the future. 

Schulte is leaning towards doing this assignment again for her future classes so that more people get the experience her Juniors did this year. “I like giving the students real-world writing experience, and this is something that’s accessible. The whole philosophy of a letter to the editor is that it’s accessible to anybody, so I figured it was a good doorway to step through. Hopefully they’ll write other stuff that they want to get printed.” 

I personally submitted a letter to the editor explaining why basses were superior to guitars in different ways. This letter was a joke and I intentionally wrote it to “ruffle some feathers” and to be over the top. I got some attention for it on my social media and some folks seemed to take it too seriously saying that I “woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” I learned a lot from these comments about how people perceived my writing and why they perceived it that way. Although my article was supposed to be more comedic than legitimate, people took it more literally than I was expecting.

This unique letter to the editor assignment that Mrs. Schulte gave to her students was one that will help them with many things further down the road, like accepting criticism and feeling somewhat exposed to the public through their writing. These Juniors who participated in the assignment now have their names officially published in the local Helena newspaper and that is a pretty cool thing. 

 

Letters to the editor can be found here: https://helenair.com/opinion/letters/#tracking-source=menu-nav

My letter can be found here: 

https://helenair.com/opinion/letters/don-t-knock-bass-guitar-players/article_a7ac0f34-b3ae-5319-8741-29c879ea8389.html