Southwest News-Herald

Nada Shamah

Marquette Pilot Program Features Columnist Talk

The New Literacy Program kicked-off its pilot program Tuesday at Marquette Elementary School, 6550 S. Richmond St.

The guest speaker was Chicago Tribune columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Clarence Page.

The program, which gained support from the McCormick Foundation, involves journalists, both retired and active, as well as school teachers, to work on subjects including English, social studies and history.

Students learn how to tell the difference between fact and opinion, as well as advertising and propaganda.

Courtney Rogers, a teacher at Marquette, introduced the program’s curriculum in five sixth-grade classes this month.

The New Literacy Project is partnering with LISC, a not-for-profit organization that helps develop healthy neighborhoods through capital and other resources.

The goal of the project is to help students understand the First Amendment and the value of free media. It also sets out to empower students to produce information that is based on evidence, as opposed to believing everything they see on television or read in magazines.

Page was the event’s guest speaker. He encouraged students to follow their dreams and ambitions in order to become successful in life.

He also conducted a question-and-answer session with some of the students and even fielded some powerful questions.

One student asked if it makes him nervous what people feel about his column when they read it.

Page responded by saying “that the best idea is the one that goes off in someone’s mind, but when it is published, it is open for criticism and could either be loved or hated by the reader.”

He said that when “deadline hits, whatever he has written is what he is going with.”

He teased the crowd saying that he always tells his wife that when he passes away, he wants her to write “nothing concentrates the mind like a firm deadline” on his tombstone.