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We got a hot tip that the Trail Times newspaper is here to stay, that’s if Mrs McKenzie’s “Newsies” have a say in the matter.
The Grade 5 class from Webster Elementary School is performing a Broadway number from “Newsies The Musical” for the school’s year-end talent show this week. When they asked to borrow 22 Trail Times carrier bags, we thought this was a perfect opportunity to talk about newspapers with the pre-teens.
For starters, had the 10 and 11-year olds ever even heard of the Trail Times?
They may have been born well into the digital age, but most of the students said they knew about the Trail Times beforehand because their parents or (mostly) grandparents read the newspaper.
Or, as a number of the kids proudly attested to, they have also read the paper at least once. Admittedly, that was when they were in a story or photo – but impressive nonetheless considering the Internet is their general go-to.
And they had a collective message for us.
One that was further etched into their grey cells by a study of the print industry, as a measure to fine tune their Newsies performance.
Their message is simple.
Newspapers are as important now as they ever were, especially considering all the “fake news” online.
The class emphatically agreed, “How else would anyone learn about real local news?”
The musical Newsies is based on a 1992 film by the same name.
The movie was inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City when young newspaper hawkers went on strike for better pay.
Besides learning about newspapers, Newsies opened the students’eyes to Trail history in another way. Like the Times, this one also holds the homefront together today, albeit in a much broader sense.
That, of course, is the labour movement and strength of union.
So the story remains relevant for those reasons, says teacher Melanie McKenzie.
“The characters are so strong,” she began, mentioning students watched the play in class. “And they have this really close knit group. The characters have big struggles to overcome, and I think kids today also have big struggles they have to overcome, much like the Newsies.”
In the original film Christian Bale (aka Batman) plays Jack Kelly, the lead character.
Nathan Hakkola takes the lead for the Webster version. But the whole class shines as they sing, dance and act their way through the number, except for a few lads who bowed out to help with “production.”
“So the other thing about Newsies is the exposure to fine arts,”said McKenzie. “And the importance of fine arts in schools, because not every school gets to have singing, dancing and acting like this.”