05/31/2012 12:05 pm ET Updated Jul 31, 2012

Student-Journalists Release Issue 42 of the Valencia Bay-farer

The Valencia Bay-farer is 826 Valencia's only in-house newspaper written for students by students (ages 8 to 13). Our intrepid reporters learn lessons about the various aspects of journalism, from crafting ledes to interviewing to citing sources, and at the end of each five-week workshop, we release a new issue full of articles about the kinds of things you'd love to read if you were a kid. We hope you enjoy these articles.

Kids Have Talent, Too, You Know
Calista Nicholson
Age 9

Some kids have great voices, like Kaitlyn Maher. Maher auditioned on America's Got Talent, and now she has become an 8-year-old idol. There are lots of singing competitions on TV that allow younger kids, but American Idol has an age limit from 16 to 28. Lots of people think they should lower the age limit, including me. In my class of 16 kids, 81 percent of them said yes to kids being allowed on American Idol. Nineteen percent said no to kids being allowed on American Idol. Ten-year-old Giuseppe Pacheco of San Francisco, yelled, "We should sue American Idol for not allowing kids!" Ten-year-old Jackson Penfield of San Francisco exclaimed, "I would love to be on American Idol!" America's Got Talent is now more popular because Maher got through the auditions. According to CNN, Britney Spears was 8 years old when she auditioned for Star Search, and Alanis Morissette was 14 years old when she became famous.  See how young they were? There could be more stars if we got younger people to audition. American Idol will make you more famous than other shows -- it's kind of mean and unfair to only allow older kids. Younger kids deserve a chance, too. Kids aren't just kids; they're more than kids and can do anything! To all the kids who are reading this article: You can do anything!

The World of Block
Matthew Margol
Age 11

Minecraft is a video game where everything is made out of blocks. In this game, almost anything is possible.  There are two different modes for gameplay. The first is called 'Survival,' where you have life and hunger. You have to keep at full life and hunger. In this, you have to gather resources and you can only use the resources you gather to build in this mode. At night, monsters come out. To make tools and weapons you have to craft them. The second mode is 'Creative.'  In this you have unlimited resources and can fly, and you don't have to craft anything.  You don't need to worry about health or hunger either.  There are also two types of worlds you can get: 'Default' and 'Super Flat.'  

A basic Minecraft server (or, world) can have all types of things. It can have jungles, caves, mountains, forests, etc. For example, the server I made one time was half-forest and half-jungle. As some of you are probably thinking, this game sounds pretty cool. I was also wondering why lots of people, once they hear about it, start to like it.  So, I asked my friend Sebastian Duong why he liked it, and he said, "I like Minecraft because you can build anything."  He also says it is good for formatting basic houses and structures. Also, a social studies teacher is using Minecraft to teach his students by recreating the past. He also lets the students use it to create self-sustainable villages. (You can find out more about this here.)  

I think Minecraft would be good for teaching architects to build. If you're thinking about getting Minecraft, it costs $26. If you want to know more, go to or and look up Minecraft.

Changes in Cameras
Jacqueline Acosta
Age 9

Many things have changed between 1836 and 2012 in cameras.

The first photographic device was invented by Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre in 1836. Some people thought that if someone took their picture, their soul would be taken away. Cameras were then built by John Strognofe in 1685. The picture turned out blurry and colorless. Cameras were huge and it took a long time to take a picture with them. George Eastman began making paper film in 1885. Four years later the celluloid film came out. Then he began selling a camera called Kodak. In 1948, Edwin Land made the Polaroid Model 95. It became popular for making pictures in under one minute.

Cameras are now small, full of color, and digital. The picture comes out very clear. "The Canon Powershot SX 260 HS just came out for $299.99," says a Best Buy worker in San Francisco. "And the bestseller is the Canon Powershot ELPH 300 HS at $149.99." Some cameras have cool features like face detection and an optical image stabilizer. Cameras can cost from $50 to more than $500.

A Mountain View, Calif. company is making a new technology called a light field image. If you take a light field image, you can click on a part of the picture and it focuses on that part after it is loaded on the computer.

Cameras have changed a lot since 1836, but they still do the same thing. They take pictures.

Corruption of the Superhuman World
Jackson Christopher Penfield
Age 10

What superheroes stand for has changed a lot in past years.  There are a lot more betrayals, deaths of beloved heroes, and confusion in newer comics. Beloved heroes Nightcrawler, Goliath, Vision, Cable, and Caliban have all died without returning yet. Marvel comics have become increasingly violent in recent years. Ryan, a citizen of San Francisco, said "I loved reading comics because they were so imaginative. All the superheroes and powers -- it really made me appreciate creativity." Well Ryan, creativity is still a big factor of Marvel, but they have showed it in a lot of different ways like the Scarlet Witch's famous "No More Mutants" and the emergence of Hope. But things are not going well for the mutants or any others.

The comic world has been making a lot more movies and bad cartoons out of Marvel, which slanders all that Marvel stands for. They were created to entertain and amaze, not to bore and annoy! All these cartoons are making a joke out of the great Marvel name. Bayfarer reporter Alex said, "I don't like the new Spider-Man cartoons because they're really dorky!" Don't worry, Alex. Many people feel this way, like Ahmed, a tutor at 826 Valencia: "I have never liked when they made comics into cartoons," he said. In conclusion, Marvel comics aren't what they used to be; in fact, they are worse!    

An Eggsellent Article on Chickens
Lola Morrell
Age 9

Bawk! Bawk bawk! Bawk bawk bawk? Chickens! Feathered friends! Think of a farm? Well, now chickens have spread their wings farther than farms, into suburbs, towns, cities, even inside your house. But why would you want chickens in your home? Maybe you could get fresh eggs! Or maybe to see the cute little things each morning, or see them grow. Maybe even just for fun. See what I'm talking about? There are good reasons to have chickens in your home.

Moving on, some people have chickens for pets, or fresh eggs. Kaitlynne Lew, who lives in San Francisco and is 9 years old, got her chickens for fresh eggs. She got her four chicks -- Cuddles (the one she named), Minnie Mouse, Red Velvet, and one that I forgot -- on March 10, 2012.

They recently moved to their outside coop after living inside her house in a cardboard box. She explained what her chick does sometimes: "You know, my chick flaps its wings sometimes and fans everything." This March, I went to her house and got to hold one of the chicks. It was like holding a cute, biped ball of fuzz. Sometimes they would hop out of your hands, but it was still cute.

If you want to know what to do if you wind up with one in your home, here's some information. For a young chick, you can keep it in a cardboard box. For flooring, pine shavings or newspaper both work. You can get a water container, food, and food holder at the place you got your chicks probably. Play with your chicks nicely so they get used to people. You should get a heat lamp so the chicks can be warm or cool off. And if you want to be really specific, the temperature should be around 90 degrees to 100 degrees for the first week, and add five degrees each week. Bawk!

Seizure Alert! Dogs Are Being Called to Duty
Clare O'Brien
Age 9

Do you know what service dogs do for people who have epilepsy? They alert their owners that they are about to have a seizure. The dogs do this by barking and getting their owners on a flat surface and licking their face. And how do dogs know that a person is about to have a seizure? This question has not yet been answered, but scientists have observed that dogs recognize that a seizure is about to occur.

Seizures are a kind of sickness that people have, and it is an uncommon sickness. Without notice, a person will begin to shake. They have no control over it. It can happen anywhere at any time. It does not matter where you are or what you're doing. You can have them when you are sleeping or running, it does not matter.

An example of a person that has epilepsy who has a service dog is Andrew Stevens from Virginia, who was recently featured in an article and news story on Today. He is a 12-year-old boy struggling with an uncommon sickness. Andrew has 12 seizures a day. His parents watch like a hawk trying to keep their baby safe.

Andrew got a dog shortly after his parents knew about his condition. The dog's name is Alaya, and it is "probably one of the most highly trained seizure response dogs in the world," according to Jon Sabin, who is in charge of Seizure Alert Dogs For Life, in New York. Even though Alaya is one of the best-trained dogs, Andrew's school will not allow it to come into the classroom or school because they don't want the other kids to get hurt.

Seizures are very dangerous and not many people think that service dogs work for people with epilepsy.

826 Valencia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 in the San Francisco Bay Area with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

The writing on this blog comes out of the Valencia Bay-farer journalism workshop, a free workshop for elementary and middle school students that produces 826 Valencia's one and only in-house newspaper. To learn more about 826 Valencia, visit