Feature Stories

Tonka Online Middle Schoolers Celebrate One Year of Student Newspaper

A team of Tonka Online middle school students recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of their student newspaper, The Squirrel. The publication was co-founded by Isabella Potter ‘29 and Joshua Carlson ‘29, and has since grown to involve dozens of contributors and student leaders in the Tonka Online community. 

The Squirrel was originally inspired by The Chip, a student paper founded by Carlson in fifth grade. Interested in kick-starting a similar publication again in middle school, he and Potter began assembling a team and a series of creative slideshows and presentations to lay the groundwork for the new paper. Working with their classmates and Language Arts teacher, the growing team at The Squirrel put out a total of 16 issues by the end of the 2022-2023 school year. The issues are shared on Schoology for other middle schoolers to read.

“As co-creator of The Squirrel, I chose to help create it because I knew that things like this are great for team-building and also can actually teach people how to cooperate with other people. Also, it’s nice to see the creative side of people!” said Carlson.

The Squirrel is a great place for students to express themselves outside the classroom and it allows their creativity and individuality to be visible to others. I feel the main reason I joined was to have fun showing my creativity and help others shine,” shared Potter. 

Clara Johansen ‘29 and Lilian Philipp ‘29 joined the newspaper’s leadership team after hearing about it from Potter and Carlson.

“Being I was new to Tonka Online I thought it would be a really fun way to meet people. I also really enjoy writing; I knew this would be a really fun way to do that more!” said Philipp. Specializing in a section of the newspaper about National Parks, she mentioned learning many new facts while doing research for her role, and gaining confidence in her work.

Johansen said, “The Squirrel has been an amazing experience and definitely has helped me learn a lot. It’s helped me learn how it is to work with other people my age as an online group, and getting to communicate with each other and make something fun and unique.”

Several members of The Squirrel are considering participating in a similar activity in the future. 

“I would love to continue some sort of newspaper or something similar to this when I go to high school or college. I think it is a really great way to express my creativity and have fun with other people making something where we can write and decorate different slides and share them with people to read, and I’d love to continue being able to do this,” said Johansen.

The team at The Squirrel would like to thank their readers and other members of the Minnetonka community who are taking note of their work.

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