Schoolkids make 'blog' their own
Originally designed to talk with parents
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 4, 2005 12:00 AM
When Kerrlita Westrick developed a Web log at Verrado Middle School in
Buckeye, she had a specific audience in mind.
The media director thought the "blog," a type of online journal with
postings for public discussion, would be an innovative way to talk to
parents and residents in the community.
But after the blog launched in April, she saw postings like this:
"Hi Ms. Westrick," the student began. "My suggestion is that students in
6th and 7th grade be able to help other teachers in their classroom."
The students at Verrado Middle School, in the Litchfield Elementary
School District, found the blog on the school's Web site and wanted to
Through this new way of communicating, they offered suggestions for
school officials and asked questions they were afraid to present in person.
"The kids saw it and it took off in a completely different direction,"
Westrick said. "Now it's more of the kids posting suggestions about the
school instead of parents."
Westrick, who has been with the district for nine years, started the
blog as part of her master's degree program at Arizona State University.
She wanted to focus her study on parent and teacher communication, so
she tried a blog to gauge the community's response.
Parents and residents occasionally asked questions, but it was the
students who decided to make the blog their own.
"This may be a better way to communicate with them than what we are
normally used to," Westrick said. "It's something they are used to.
There is a lot of virtual learning now, and it's definitely here to stay."
The students have been so active on the school's blog that Westrick
decided to set up a forum of their own.
The Verrado Student Blog, which started in May, is up and running on the
school's Web site, and students say it's a great way to chat casually
about school issues.
"It's great for the school," said sixth-grader Katie Merry. "It's a way
to communicate without having to call the school. It's good if you just
have a quick question."
The blog has also caught the attention of Verrado's principal, Heather
Cruz, who said she tries to respond to student questions at least once a
"It's an online generation, and we need to build to their strengths,"