The Caledonian-Record's Newspapers In Education officially starts today for the 2012-2013 school year. Teachers have been busy requesting newspapers to be delivered to their classrooms, so they can be used to teach a variety of subjects.

Newspapers In Education is not a new concept. Schools have been using newspapers as "textbooks" for generations, even back to the days when they were the only textbooks available to use in a classroom.

In an excerpt from the 1795 edition of the Portland (Mass.) Eastern Herald, the earliest known documentation of the idea of using newspapers for instruction was published: "Much has been said and written on the utility of newspapers; but one principal advantage which might be derived from these publications has been neglected; we mean that of reading them in schools, and by the children in families. Try it for one session -- do you wish your child to improve in reading solely, give him a newspaper -- it furnishes a variety, some parts of which must infallibly touch his fancy. Do you wish to instruct him in geography, nothing will so indelibly fix the relative situation of different places, as the stories and events published in the papers. In time, do you wish to have him acquainted with the manners of the country or city, to the mode of doing business, public or private; do you wish him to have a smattering of every kind of science useful and amusing, give him a newspaper -- newspapers are plenty and cheap -- the cheapest book that can be bought, and the more you buy the better for your children, because every part furnishes some new and valuable information."

America's Founding Fathers knew that the young republic could not survive without an educated and engaged electorate. The same is still true today. Our children will be the voters of tomorrow, and it is never too early to nurture their interest in current events and the world around them. Newspapers are a proven and excellent resource for cultivating this lifelong passion in children. Children who read newspapers grow up into adults who follow the news and take an active role in shaping the future of our democracy.

For many years, The Caledonian-Record has been offering the newspapers to teachers, even before the formal establishment of it's Newspapers In Education (NIE) program in the fall of 1998.

New to this year's NIE program are: two serialized stories to be published September through December, and January through May; a celebration of the anniversary of The Constitution with a week's worth of opinions, stories and in-paper features on this sacred document; new Kid Scoop features; a 16-page supplement, along with articles focused on the Election process; and a month of articles and materials on health and fitness in the spring.

Beginning today is the first chapter of "S.O.R. Losers." When a group of nonathletic boys are required to play on a South Orange River Middle School soccer team, they achieve fame. They become famous, however, not because of the quality of their play, but because of the hilarious ways in which they lose. In so doing, they give new meaning to the concepts of team spirit and success. The story will be published on Monday's Education pages through December 10.

A question is published with each chapter -- students can answer the question and submit their entry to The Caledonian. If their entry is drawn, and their answer is correct, they have the opportunity to win a prize donated by an area business.

S.O.R. Losers is being generously sponsored by Wells River Chevrolet and Community National Bank. Curriculum guides for the story are provided to all NIE teachers.

For publication Jan. 7 through May 27 (excluding schools vacations) is "Magic Elizabeth." When Sally's parents are suddenly called away, she is sent to stay with Aunt Sarah who is as scary as her mysterious old house. Sally's spirits pick up when she discovers an old portrait of a young girl who looks curiously like her. But this girl is holding the most exquisite doll she has ever seen. Sally's search for it takes her to another time. A teacher guide for this story is also provided to all NIE teachers.

For five days, Sept. 17-21, The Caledonian-Record will publish a comprehensive package of educational information on the Constitution in response to a federal mandate. Public Law 108-477, put into effect in 2004, requires all schools and government institutions to celebrate Constitution Day on Sept. 17, the day the Constitution was signed in 1787. In order to assist teachers in meeting the mandate, The Caledonian-Record's Newspapers In Education Program has put together a "Constitution Package" for the entire week.

The package has several elements. Every day a series of lessons titled "It's Your Right" will be published next to the newspaper's editorial page and will feature the history of the Constitution. Accompanying these features will be news stories about how the Constitution affects the everyday lives of people around us. There will also be specially written opinion pieces on the editorial pages.

On the first day of that week, Monday, Sept. 17, the 12-page supplement, "The Power and the Glory: The Constitution" will be inserted in the newspaper. The Power and The Glory teaches students about the framework of The Constitution. On the Education pages Sept. 17, Kid Scoop, which targets younger students, will also feature information about the Constitution.

For the younger students, coloring books about The Constitution and The First Amendment will be delivered to teachers in Kindergarten through Grade 4.

During Constitution Week, teachers are being encouraged to request newspapers every day, giving them an abundant amount of information to help meet the mandate. The newspapers and Constitution materials are being offered to teachers at no charge. Funding will be met through those businesses and individuals who sponsor pages of the supplement and the in-paper features.

On Oct. 1, the 16-page supplement, "Electing The President: A Guide to the Election Process," will provide students and Caledonian-Record readers in-depth explanations of the entire election process. The supplement will be inserted in the full run of the newspaper, with multiple copies being distributed to schools for every student.

During the month of May, every Monday on the Education pages, articles and special features will promote healthy eating habits and lifestyles for students of all ages, including adults. Students selected from NIE schools will be highlighted as "Get Fit Students of the Week." In-paper features and a special supplement will focus on fitness and health.

Kid Scoop is published every Monday on the Education pages, and features a different topic weekly.

Newspapers In Education is a comprehensive partnership between newspapers, businesses and educators that make use of the newspaper. Newspapers are used for in-depth coverage of news and current events, and as a resource to provide a window to the world outside the classroom.

NIE also provides many opportunities to translate "book learning" into the context of daily life and helps develop reading and critical thinking skills.

Teachers are provided with curriculum guides that cover language, arts, profiles in courage, life skills, business careers, math and science, social studies, elementary skills and primary skills.

The program is open to classrooms of all ages and grade levels, kindergarten through high school, as well as adult education, and may be implemented at any time during the year. Educators may contact The Caledonian and sign up for the program.

Teachers determine how often they receive the newspapers -- daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, etc. Monday is NIE Day because that day's edition features educational news and classroom activities.

Teachers also decide how many papers they would like to receive, one for each student, one for every two students, etc., with no orders of fewer than five newspapers.

Whatever a teacher decides, the biggest prerequisite of the NIE program is that the teacher uses the newspapers in the classroom, and that they aren't sitting in a bundle in a hallway. There is an honor system involved, because all the newspapers are being sponsored -- there is no cost to the schools.

In order to help with the expense of newspaper deliveries, The Caledonian has a program called "Adopt A Class," where businesses, organizations and individuals sponsor the newspapers in the classroom, and in turn receive community recognition for their support.

The teachers and students are also notified of their "sponsor(s)" and many times, special interaction occurs between the two, including field trips and guest speakers in the classroom.

Sponsors of NIE benefit from the positive public image they earn when they become sponsors. By paying for newspapers to be used by students in the program, sponsors make an important contribution to the education of children in their communities.

Teachers are asked to thank their sponsors for the financial commitment to their classrooms, and to implement the use of the newspapers in the classroom, which is the focus of the program.

The Caledonian-Record is committed to the Newspapers In Education Program as a vital way of promoting the use of the printed word in today's society. What the newspaper gains is the development of new readers and future subscribers.

In a world where information is so readily available from a wide variety of electronic sources, actively recruiting new readers has become critical to the survival of newspapers.

For more information concerning NIE, including school deliveries or being a classroom sponsor, contact Rosie Smith, educational services director at The Caledonian-Record, P.O. Box 8, 190 Federal Street, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819; call 748-8121 (locally) or 1-800-523-6397 (toll free Vermont and New Hampshire); or email; chalouxr@caledonian-record.com.

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