Readers of The Index may be unfamiliar with The Fords Forum, the middle school’s newspaper.
“The Fords Forum? What’s that? The middle school has a newspaper?” Sixth Former Andrew Case said.
Around the nation, middle schools rarely have their own news publications. At Haverford, a decades-long intellectual tradition and a supportive administration had uniquely nurtured The Fords Forum. Since its first appearance around 2019, the student-run publication grew to become an independent platform for the voice of the middle school community.
“The Fords Forum was created only a few years ago,” Middle School Head Dr. Jay Greytok said. “But prior to The Fords Forum, since the inception of the middle school, back in the late fifties, there has been a middle school newspaper called The Crosman Chronicle.”
The Crosman Chronicle rebranded itself as The Fords Forum a few years ago when the middle school moved out of Crosman Hall. Current teacher advisors of The Fords Forum are Middle School History teacher Mrs. Kori Brown and Librarian Mr. Josh Newman.
“I just stepped up and got involved this year, because there was a vacant spot, and Mrs. Brown asked me if I was interested,” Mr. Newman said. “Being someone who loves the written word, journalism, and responsible consumption of news, I thought it would be a cool thing to do.”
Under teacher mentorship, The Fords Forum seeks to continue the legacy of The Crosman Chronicle and build student interest in writing and journalism.
“It’s always about getting the guys to think about the school community and the world around them.”Mr. Josh Newman
“We rebranded it The Fords Forum when we moved to the trailers and the new middle school was being constructed,” Mr. Newman said. “But the philosophy doesn’t change. It’s always about getting the guys to think about the school community and the world around them.”
At The Fords Forum, middle school journalists are offered many writing opportunities. This helps funnel talents to The Index at the upper school.
“One of the things that we try to do in middle school is provide a junior upper school experience,” Dr. Greytok said. “So every boy has a chance to try something and maybe find his passion as a future writer for The Index. Here’s an opportunity for them to get involved in a little bit of journalism and what is required in order to put something like this together.”
Mr. Newman thinks the newspaper’s student-oriented leadership structure helps middle school writers develop the ability to work through planning, writing, formatting, and publishing independently.
“Philosophically, The Fords Forum has always been student-directed,” Mr. Newman said. “Mrs. Brown and I are just there as the adults in the room. But really, it’s student-directed in almost every way. The students generate it. They set deadlines. And they get it published. It’s something that the guys take responsibility for and feel proud of.”
Middle school student leaders share their own stories with The Fords Forum and how they grew to become invested in their tasks.
“I first learned about it from an email in sixth grade. I think they sent it out to the whole school. So I emailed the editor at the time and told him that I would want to get involved,” Second Form Fords Forum editor Keith DiMarino said.
DiMarino has written several major pieces for the newspaper, including an interview with Head of School Mr. Tyler Casertano. Last September, DiMarino assumed the role of an editor with First Former Ethan Stern.
“Ethan and I have a set meeting time. For a couple of hours, we’ll go together. We’ll talk about what we’re doing today. Today, we’re gonna do a little bit more writing and a little bit more fun stuff,” DiMarino said. “I communicate with the writers to make sure they do their job and turn in their articles. Ethan’s responsibilities lean more toward putting together the paper on Apple Pages.”
In charge of design and formatting, Stern has been adding innovative elements to The Fords Forum to suit the taste of the middle school.
“We have certain activities we add in throughout The Fords Forum,” Stern said. “There’re word scrambles, or ‘Guess the Faculty Member.’ We let the kids interact with the newspaper and ask each other questions.”
“Middle schoolers don’t have the same engagement as upper schoolers do. So we do our articles differently for our readers.”Ethan Stern ’28
Stern explains the logic behind his decision to introduce interactive sections to The Fords Forum.
“We look at The Index. Everyone’s reading that,” Stern said. “But we make ourselves a newspaper for the middle school. Middle schoolers don’t have the same engagement as upper schoolers do. So we do our articles differently for our readers.”
Dr. Greytok has fully endorsed this shift in the newspaper’s style.
“The Fords Forum, first and foremost, encourages the middle school boys to write. It is not necessarily meant to be the type of journalism that we have been doing for The Index. Could we go in that direction? Absolutely. But it’s a student paper, so it’s going to be whatever they want to do,” Dr. Greytok said.
Stern agrees. He notes how the middle school perspective gives The Fords Forum a unique attraction.
“Most other middle schools don’t have their own newspaper. We love to have it because it’s the middle school writing, editing, and reading about middle school. And it’s just different than what you see in other places,” Stern said.
Stern talks about the middle school’s community engagement with the first issue he published in the Fall of 2022.
“We didn’t really know how it was gonna go because it was the first issue we published,” Stern said. “We printed eighty copies. But when we actually started handing them out, they just disappeared immediately.”
“This year we want to get as many editions as we can, more than just three for three trimesters. That’s what we’re aiming for. We really want to have people say, ‘Did you read this part of The Fords Forum?’ We want people to have healthy arguments and have a good experience.”
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