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Students start “Facts First”

Kaelyn Park ’20 and alumna Allie Kim ’19 created a summer program called “Facts First,” where they taught middle school students about ethical journalism. They also introduced the students to the fundamentals of news-making, journalism and communication skills. 

Kim applied for the fellowship through the Dragon Kim Foundation and approached Park with the idea for the program. The Foundation said it provides young people with access to a bright future and annually grants $5,000 to 20 groups throughout California to run a project that betters their community. Park and Kim worked together to teach middle schoolers about ethical journalism because they said it was a such a concern in today’s news. 

Courtesy of Kaelyn Park ’20. Kaelyn Park ’20 and Allie Kim ’19, center, with Facts First volunteers.

“It is very difficult to differentiate fake news from the truth in the media, so we wanted to help cultivate the next generation to become better consumers of news,” Park said.

Park and Kim held two sessions of Facts First this summer. The first, with 15 students enrolled and four volunteers, was held at Marlborough in visual arts instructor Joshua Deu’s classroom for three weeks. The second, which had 21 students enrolled and three volunteers, was held at the Koreatown Youth and Community Center. It lasted two weeks and took place three days a week. 

Kim and Park taught lessons and had a variety of interactive activities to introduce students to different parts of the newspaper process, including researching, interviewing, writing and designing. As they built the curriculum and program on their own, they said they had to learn many new skills themselves.

“I had never dealt with or been exposed to many of the tasks we needed to accomplish, but luckily the foundation leaders were extremely helpful throughout the process and gave us a large amount of guidance,” Park said. “It was a very rewarding experience that was ultimately very successful.”

By the end of the program, the students had a physical newsletter and an online newspaper that showcased their newly developed journalism skills. Additionally, The Los Angeles Times High School Insider branch posted many of the students’ articles online.

“The highlight of our program was definitely seeing our students’ increased interest in journalism and how proud they felt of their own work,” Park said. “Seeing the students flip through the pamphlets and talk amongst one another about all of the articles made every difficulty and challenge completely worth it. The feeling of pride and accomplishment radiating off of every student felt incredible, as I feel like we truly made an impact.”

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