Extra, extra, read all about it! St. Brendan has a school newspaper.
“My husband and I love St. Brendan for our boys and wanted to be able to give back. We thought helping to start a student newspaper was something we could do,” said Vrana, whose husband Martin Miller is the television editor at the L.A. Times.
At the helm of The Brendan Bear are eighth graders Gabriel Wild and Vrana’s son, Nick Miller. With the help of Anicich, the editors-in-chief oversee a staff of 12 who publish two to three issues a year.
Publication is made possible by grants from Vrana’s employer City National Bank’s “Reading is the Way Up” literacy program.
Recent issues of the professional-looking paper covered the presidential election—including a poll and op ed pieces on both candidates—as well as sports, student council activities, books and music, and polls on favorite local restaurants.
The students credit Vrana with helping them become better journalists. “We’re all good writers,” said managing editor Luke Ebora. “But Nick’s mom taught us how to be good reporters.”
Staff members share one computer, which often presents a problem. “We lost an entire issue once when it crashed,” said Nick.
Undeterred, the students are brainstorming for ways to raise money to expand operations. “We sell copies to students for a dollar,” said Gabriel. “But even then we don’t make any money. Kids share it with each other, plus the younger ones don’t really like to read.”
The staff is pinning its hopes on ad sales, with a focus on local businesses. “Our school is close to Larchmont,” said Nick. “So we feel that’s our best avenue.”
“So far we’ve sold four ads, and we already have one for the next issue,” enthused Julia Hanna, the Bear’s graphic designer.
Being part of a school newspaper teaches students so many things, not the least is critical thinking,” said Vrana. “Principal Sister Maureen O’Connor has been so incredibly supportive of this as has Laura Anicich who makes everything happen.”