It’s said that journalism is the first draft of history. If that’s true, then the 2000-01 fifth-grade class at Hillsboro Elementary is well-covered.
A few weeks ago, fiancée Hanna and I were going through some of my old boxes when we discovered a notebook containing a rare collection of documents titled “The Fifth Grade Scoop.”
There were maybe 30 copies of each edition produced, and I would speculate that most of those copies were lost years ago.
That’s because The Fifth Grade Scoop is a newspaper that I produced, wrote and edited during—you guessed it—my fifth-grade year. Until finding that box, I had all but forgotten about that publication and its follow-up newspaper, The Sixth Grade Scoop.
“Mr. Just brought eggs and an incubator to his class as an Easter present,” the fifth edition of the Journal reads. “‘These eggs are not store-bought,’ he told his class around 10:30 on April 6, 2001.”
The article goes onto explain that each of Mr. Just’s students received two eggs, and that they would get to keep the chickens.
“If you’re not in Mr. Just’s class, don’t feel left out!” the article concludes. “Mr. Just has put four extra eggs in, two each to represent the other two classes!”
This is a typical Journal or Scoop news topic. Reading through each issue, I was surprised how well life in those days is preserved.
The first edition of The Sixth Grade Scoop, for example, covered this significant event: “The first major test was taken Sept. 6, 2001, in Mr. Oelke’s Geography class. For some people it was a cinch, for others it was harder. I guess we now know the hardest thing in sixth grade isn’t P.E.”
A few issues later, the Scoop followed a two-part saga of a classroom mouse: “Last Monday the mouse from Mr. Coryea’s class escaped. The person who opened the cage wishes to remain anonymous.”
According the article, before being captured the mouse bit Zack and then ran into Jacob’s hand, who reportedly said, “Gosh, that’s gross.”
The next article was a continuation of that story, including full gruesome details: “Finally, right before science started, the snake ate the mouse.”
Mr. Coryea, it turns out, appeared quite frequently in the Scoop: “Recently Mr. Coryea and Ben B. challenged each other to a game of chess. Ben beat Coryea badly. When I asked Coryea if he’d mind us putting his defeat in this edition, all he said was, ‘Sure, I don’t care, I’m a good sport.’ He later told Ben he was getting even.”
In addition to news, we even did several personal profiles.
“As you already know,” one article begins, “Ben H. was gone from school for seven days after Christmas break…. Ben said he rode about every ride in Disney World…. Finally, Ben showed his face at Sunday School on the 13th. Ben is back in Kansas, not Florida, and we’re all happy to see him.”
It’s interesting to see what my friends and I considered “news” back then. One article in the Scoop reported that Mitchell missed school one day because he was deer hunting. The following day Mitchell brought his catch to school to show Mr. Coryea.
The article concludes: “Mr. Coryea took a couple pictures of Mitch holding the buck’s head up, and then in his effort to make Maria a tom-boy, he tried to take a picture of her holding up the buck’s head, but the batteries on the school’s camera were too low.”
Popular trends were also covered in both papers, including a brief instance of Troll keychain popularity in fifth grade, which is so embarrassing I’m not going to share any of those articles. (One headline proclaims: “Troll Parenting Guide.”
Sparkly pants were apparently hot in sixth grade: “The stylish thing this year (and boys, this isn’t for you) are silver, sparkly, whatever-you-want-to-call-them jeans. In case you haven’t seen them, they’re regular denim jeans, except there is silver thread sown in.”
A correction in the following edition states that, apparently, sparkly jeans also existed for boys.
An article in the Journal also outlined class-wide participation in TV-Free Week. My editor’s note concluded, “I spent my TV-Free week working on my turtle habitat, reading, writing The Fifth Grade Journal, playing outside, and wishing I could watch TV.”
Of course, like any newspaper, neither the Journal nor the Scoop was without flaw, and every once in a while one over-zealous classmate would write in to complain: “We recently got a complaint that there were too many ‘!’ in our newspaper! To make everyone happy we are taking out many exclamation marks! That is why they are not after the title of each story!!!”
I’m glad I saved all those papers and the otherwise forgettable stories they tell. Just in case someone needs them for the next draft of history.