By DEVIN WEEKS
COEUR d’ALENE — They wandered in with eyes filled with wonder, clutching notebooks and pencils and ready to learn all about how newspapers are made.
Fernan STEM Academy’s students were quite impressed when they visited the Coeur d’Alene Press’s noisy production facility, where they learned that 45,000 newspapers can be printed in just one hour.
“It’s awesome,” said fifth-grader Dayna Wilson. “The inside is all fancy.”
She said it was super interesting “how much paper there is for the newspaper, and how much they make in a year!”
Four waves of students toured The Press on Friday morning, getting an exclusive peek into the who, what, where, when and why of how North Idaho’s favorite local paper comes together every day.
“They seem to be very interested in money,” said managing editor Mike Patrick, who led the first tour. “A lot of questions about how much things cost and how much we charge.”
The students enjoyed some Q and A in The Press conference room, they met reporters and advertising staff, high-fived the awesome employees in the circulation department and they were wowed by all the machinery, giant tubs of ink and massive rolls of paper that are used in the printing process.
“They’re losing their minds about the machinery,” said a smiling Shelby Randklev, the Fernan Title I reading specialist who set up the field trips. "They couldn't believe that 45,000 papers go through in an hour."
Randklev was awarded a grant through the Excel Foundation that she decided to use on transportation to visit The Press after Fernan students spent the school year learning how to become experts and informed citizens.
“They’ve been learning how to gather information, how to become an expert on certain topics — a lot of them have to do with what’s going on in our community — and then, how are we going to inform our community on what we learned and what we became an expert on?” she said. “There’s different levels per grade level on expertise and how that goes together."
The students have been working on what it means to be a good citizen and what it means to be a steward of their community as well as learning how to express their findings in writing, and, of course, publishing.
"I wanted them to see how the experts in our community actually get this information out to our community and the public," Randklev said. "I wanted them to know the final layer of it.
"It's nice for them to see people in their real-world job, that if they're passionate about it, this could be them," she said. "Being a STEM school, we want it to be very purposeful as far as what they're learning and why they're learning it and knowing why they learn it, so really becoming experts and finding the facts and not just the facts on what your opinion is, but the facts on the other side too, to really become a true well-informed citizen."
The Press will be welcoming more Fernan students in a couple weeks, and yes, we're excited to have them.