Campus & Community

Young reporters make headlines, eat lunch

6 min read
Helen Cowdrey and Jared
Seventh-graders from the Graham and Parks School Helen Cowdrey (left) and Jared Hughes get hands-on experience as news photographers as part of their weeklong stint working at the Harvard News Office. (Staff photo by Stephanie Mitchell)

Editor’s note: As part of a Graham and Parks School annual project, two seventh-grade students joined the Harvard News Office staff for one week. This is what Jared Hughes and Helen Cowdrey had to say about their experience. Every student in Graham and Parks School, from 4-year-olds to sixth-graders, longs for the day when they will be in seventh grade and get to experience City Sites. For me it was no different. Every year there was at least one person in my class who had an older sibling in seventh grade, and my classmate would inform us about how much fun their brother or sister was having at City Sites.

Copyediting, photography and lunch

Getting a good site is always the first issue. We filled out a very general survey about our interests but I suspect that assignments were random. I had always wanted to work at a restaurant, such as the Middle East or Bertucci’s, so when I got my assignment, at the Harvard News Office, I was somewhat disappointed, but mainly confused. “What exactly is Harvard News?” I wondered aloud. None of the teachers really answered my question; all I could get out of them was that it is a newspaper of some sort, and that it is one of the best sites.

When I first arrived at the Harvard News Office, I was really apprehensive. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have a clear idea what I would be doing, or with whom I would be working. I was extremely nervous, especially while being introduced to everyone.

On the first day we didn’t do much, just some copyediting. On the second day we went on a student-led tour of Harvard Yard. Then we went back to the office and did more copyediting.

Things didn’t really get interesting until Wednesday, our third day at the site. Wednesday is Gazette production day, so everyone was frantically typing away and discussing headlines. We got away from the madness occurring at the office by going on a photo shoot with staff photographer Kris Snibbe. The shoot was a lot of fun. It wasn’t an assignment; we just went to Harvard Yard and took random photos. Then lunch was ordered from Bertucci’s for the entire office. It was an amazing amount of food.

On Thursday, we got to see our photos from Wednesday. At 11 a.m. we went to a “story meeting,” where story ideas are gone over and assignments handed out. Then we went to lunch with Kris and interviewed him. After lunch we took some more photos around Harvard Square.

On Friday, it was time to say goodbye. My week at Harvard News was truly enjoyable. The people, John Lenger, our supervisor, Kris, the photographer, and everyone else at the site were amazing and that was what made the experience fun.

City Sites is even more fun than it is rumored to be, and I hope that it keeps going for a long time. I also hope that Harvard News Office is still a site for as long as City Sites is running, so that many other students will have the chance to experience what I did.

Life at the Gazette:

From ‘outrage’ to a ‘comfortable lunch’

Jared HughesSpecial to the Gazette

When I heard where I was headed for City Sites I was outraged – Harvard News Office – it seemed impossible that I was going to be stuck in an office all week. Especially when I heard other people’s assignments: Jenna was going to Mars Music and Phi was going to the Middle East, along with three others. I said to myself, “This week is going to be so boring.” How wrong was I?

It began to dawn on me that this site might be OK when my math teacher teased me by saying, “You’re at Harvard News? What, do they want that site to stop doing City Sites with us?”

I guess we should start at the beginning. At the Graham and Parks School, seventh-graders go to a specific workplace for a week and act as employees. This is called City Sites. This year, Helen Cowdrey and I were assigned to find out what it is like to work at the Harvard News Office.

Over the course of the first two days things were somewhat slow and there was not a lot to do, but not bad at all. The work was new to me and what I was doing was interesting. We spent time proofreading a section of the Harvard Guide (one of the office’s publications); we proofread an article about Nobel Prize winners who were Harvard professors; we checked dates and other facts but did not find much wrong.

Wednesday (May 15) was different; it was production day at the office and everyone was working hard on the Gazette – except for three lone figures with cameras. Helen, Kris Snibbe, a staff photographer, and I went to Harvard Yard from 11 a.m. to noon to do a photo shoot. Before we went out, Kris had Helen and me draw what we thought we would like to shoot as a lesson in perspective. After a comfortable lunch (which we got everyday) we had to remove a special section by hand from 237 newspapers, which was not as bad as it sounds.

On Thursday (May 16), we went to a story meeting, a meeting where the people from the office talk about the paper that just came out and plan the next week’s paper, Helen and I took photos of the meeting. After the meeting we finished the newspaper-separating job and headed out to take more pictures around Harvard and go to lunch. We brought the film to a photo shop and work was over for the day. On Friday (May 17), we worked on the perfection of the article you are now reading.

I had a fun week and learned a lot. I also found out – even though the idea would not have occurred to me before last week – that there are jobs in an office that can actually be fun. I guess I should not make assumptions about things I am not familiar with. I had a good time and would like to thank my teachers for placing me here and I especially want to thank John Lenger (the assistant director for publications) and his fellow staff for being so hospitable.