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PAPER KEEPS KIDS UP ON CURRENT EVENTS

Mrs. Finn's sixth-graders chat about world issues, current events and U.S. geography. They're as comfortable talking about politics as they are about the latest Utah Jazz game.

The St. Olaf's students' familiarity with the news comes from "The Deseret News." For five weeks, the kids have participated in The Deseret Newspaper in Education program."They're learning so much from this. It's exciting to watch them," said teacher Bonita Finn.

Every week, the class takes home a Deseret News edition and answers questions about the paper's content. They may discuss local events, world politics, social concerns or sports.

A few even know the names of the Democratic presidential hopefuls and how they did in the New Hampshire primary. One can tell you that darts is the fastest-growing sport in the United States.

"To answer the questions, you have to read every story. So I'm learning about things I didn't know before," said Justin James.

And they've all learned something a lot of people forget - TV news broadcasts are less comprehensive than newspaper stories.

"The stories are a lot more in-depth and there's more of them," said 12-year-old Danny Dudleston.

Finn began the Newspaper in Education program after learning about it when the class participated in the popular Jazz 'n Geography program, where kids learn about the United States and information about Jazz players.

She hopes to use NIE material for a semester next year.

Wednesday, the class participated in No Books Day, using the paper as a curriculum text. Nearly 35,000 copies of the Deseret News went to schools across the state for No Books Day. The annual one-day newspaper learning experience is part of national Newspaper in Education Week.