By Connie Berry
FAYETTEVILLE — Most reporters would love to get an assignment from an editor at a national news magazine.
Ellie Sommers, a 10-year-old fifth grader at Immaculate Conception School in Fayetteville, is waiting for her third assignment since November when she first became a member of the Kids Press Corps for Scholastic Magazine. Her most recent assignment? Chatting with the rest of the reporters while President Barak Obama toured a General Electric plant in Schenectady.
Her folks gave her a ride to the assignment and Ellie waited in line for 45 minutes making it through the president’s security team, something her older brother Colin, a sixth-grader, is a little envious of.
“When I told him I talked to the lead security agent he said, ‘Why does she get all the luck?’ Colin was pretty excited for me,” Ellie said.
“I had four sets of questions,” Ellie explained. “Some for local officials and members of Congress, some for people in the audience, a set of questions for other reporters and a few for President Obama if he took questions, but he didn’t.”
Ellie said she was surprised when an editor in New York City contacted her to tell her she had been chosen to serve in the Kids Press Corps. Her teacher, Kathy Skelly, uses Scholastic Magazine to discuss current events in social studies class and Ellie noticed a box in one of the recent issues calling for student reporters. She went online and applied for the position.
The application process called for four essays. Ellie’s main essay was about her
“I wrote about our community — Fayetteville and Manlius. I did a little research about the history and why it’s special and what kind of activities are offered here,” Ellie said. She also interviewed her principal, Sally Lisi.
“She’s just a great student,” Lisi said. “She’s well-rounded and she’s got a great supportive family.”
Ellie’s love of writing began in the first grade, she said. She won a local writing contest Treehouse Tales, associated with the public television station WCNY. It was third and fourth grade when she “really” began to enjoy it, Ellie said.
“My brother and I write a newspaper for my parents,” Ellie said. “We ride bikes around the neighborhood and then come back and write about what we saw.”
Ellie’s mom, Mary Sommers, said her daughter’s reporter job was all Ellie’s idea.
“She asked us if she could apply for it and we said, ‘Sure,’” Mary said. “We thought it might be a shot in the dark and she got it.”
Then when Ellie wondered aloud if she might interview President Obama, Mary thought “I wouldn’t hold my breath.” The next thing the Sommers knew, Suzanne Freeman, Ellie’s editor at Scholastic, asked if she would be available to go to Schenectady to cover President Obama’s visit.
“Ellie is self-motivated. We’re kind of her assistants,” Mary said. “She has always surprised us.”
Ellie said she loves to watch news on television and she thinks in the future she’d like to do a little of both — report news on television and be a print journalist.
Her classroom teacher said Ellie is an outstanding student.
“She works hard and she tries hard and she’s got a supportive family — that’s important,” Skelly said. “She plays flute and piano and she sings in the chorus. She’s a busy girl.”
Ellie has a little advice for young people: “Just keep trying. I had no idea I’d be a Scholastic reporter. I saw a little box in the magazine and I knew I wanted to do it,” Ellie said.
Does she think she’ll be a reporter when she grows up?
“I think I’ll always be a reporter but I also want to be a softball player,” she said.