Publishing giant Scholastic selected 11-year-old Griffin native Skye Oduaran to participate in the company’s award-winning international youth journalism program, Scholastic Kids Press.
The company announced its 2022-23 class of Kid Reporters in a press release last Wednesday. The list consists of 29 students ranging in age from 10-14 years old.
Scholastic Kids Press brings together kids from all over the world to interview influential public figures and gain journalistic experience by reporting on local and national current events. Scholastic will publish the novice reporters’ work in various issues of Scholastic Magazines+, the company’s line of periodical publications targeting pre-K and K-12 students. The Kid Reporters’ stories will also be published online.
Kid Reporters hail from every region of the United States. Five students were chosen to represent the South; Oduaran is the only Kid Reporter from Georgia. This year’s class of reporters also includes eight international students, hailing from Mexico, New Zealand and numerous countries in Asia.
Oduaran said she found out about the program while reading a Scholastic newspaper in her fifth-grade classroom. Even in elementary school, Oduaran knew she wanted to incorporate her love for reading and writing into her future career, aspiring to become a journalist and give voice to scarcely discussed public issues.
“After reading the work of other Kid Reporters, I knew right away that this was the perfect opportunity for me.” Oduaran said.
Oduaran’s parents said Skye completed the Scholastic Kids Press application in two days, which included a news story, a compiled list of potential story ideas and a personal essay.
“Skye is intrinsically motivated,” they said. “She sets goals, works hard and loves competitions! Applying to be a Scholastic Kid Reporter was her idea and she made sure that it happened.”
Scholastic started the program in 2000, aiming to motivate K-12 students to gain an interest in the country’s presidential elections. Scholastic Kids Press editor Suzanne McCabe said the company applied a “news by kids, for kids” approach to journalism in order to accomplish this goal.
“When kids can put themselves into the shoes of another kid, understand their experiences and see how they have similarities and differences and think about how they might handle a situation, that really sparks an interest [in journalism],” McCabe said. “Or, it may inspire them to become a reporter or to investigate the world a little more deeply than they have [previously].”
Over the past 22 years, the program has diversified its news content, encouraging Kid Reporters to cover topics that interest them. Past students have written about sports, entertainment, current events and issues specifically pertaining to their respective communities.
Oduaran said she is interested in covering politics, government, education and the environment on both local and national scales this academic year. Skye is also passionate about immigration, as she believes many of the hardships immigrants face while entering the United States receive minimal attention from the media.
“I look forward to reporting on the accomplishments of current leaders in our country to inspire kids my age to dream big and achieve higher,” Oduaran said.
As editor of the press, McCabe works closely with all of the Kid Reporters, helping them pitch story ideas, interview sources, draft articles and take pictures for completed pieces.
McCabe became editor in 2014, but has worked with Scholastic since the program’s birth at the turn of the millennia.
On top of gaining real-world writing and reporting experience, McCabe said Scholastic’s Kid Reporters leave the program with the ability to think critically and approach news from an unbiased perspective.
[Kid Reporters] learn how to look at a story with fresh eyes, listening to everyone and seeing where the facts take them, rather than coming in with prejudged notions of the story,” McCabe said.
Oduaran said she hopes the experience will improve her writing, research, analytical and communication skills, as well as introduce her to the habits and environment of professional journalists. She also hopes to improve her soft skills throughout the course of the program, focusing specifically on interpersonal skills, creativity and personal responsibility.
Oduaran’s parents said they hope the program will expand Skye’s horizons and help her become certain of the career path she wishes to work toward.
“As parents, we know that as Skye researches and writes, she will be refining her skills and using every opportunity as a learning experience,” they said. “We know that she has unlimited potential and look forward to seeing where she goes from here.”
Alumni of the Scholastic Kids Press program tend to establish careers in journalism upon reaching adulthood. McCabe said she remains in close contact with former Kid Reporters, some of whom have found work at major publishing and broadcasting companies, like Politico and NBC News. Other Kid Reporters, McCabe said, started student newspapers at their local high schools after aging out of the program. Some of these former Kid Reporters also mentored middle school students interested in journalism, teaching them to start student newspapers of their own.
In the future, Oduaran plans to combine her interest in journalism with her other passion: law, in order to advocate for Americans, both citizens and noncitizens, whose civil rights are legally threatened or compromised. However, Skye’s aspirations don’t stop there. She also intends to enter the world of politics once she comes of age, ultimately aspiring to run for president of the United States.
“The election of 2048 will be the first presidential election that I will be eligible to compete in as I will be 38 years old at that time,” Oduaran said.
McCabe said she is excited to work with Skye this next year as she covers happenings in Griffin, the state of Georgia and the country as a whole.
“She says she’s going to be president of the United States,” McCabe said. “I’m going to hold her to that.”