While most fifth grade boys are probably more concerned about Pokémon and Legos, Truman J. Hamade, a 10-year-old 5th grade student in Cedar Park, is reporting the news for a national publication.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, where more than 40 inches of rain and flooding left Houston devastated, Hamade was on the scene talking with volunteers with the Austin Disaster Relief Network at the Georgetown Municipal Airport. With the roads to Houston flooded and inaccessible, the organization assembled several pilots to fly supplies to some of areas most in need with private planes. Hamade even got to sit in the cockpit of one of the planes.
His headline for the article, published in Scholastic News magazine, was “Airlifting Hope to Houston.”
“I felt like I learned a lot about how a community can come together,” he said. “There’s a lot of bad things that happen, but it’s wonderful to learn about how communities come together and how they are helping people who had their homes destroyed. I didn’t realize how much help people needed.”
For his next assignment, Hamade plans on reporting on the bats of Central Texas and how citizens can build homes for them and protect them from being endangered. He also put in an interview request to speak with Hillary Clinton before her upcoming book signing at Book People in downtown Austin in November. He’s also considering a feature about the men of ballet dancing and the stereotypes they face, which was his original story pitch in his application for the program.
Hamade, a student at Redeemer Lutheran School, was selected among 400 applicants this year to report “news for kids, by kids” for the Scholastic Kids Press Corps, which has 44 students ages 10 to 14 from across the U.S. and around the world reporting. Hamade is the only reporter in Texas in the program.
The students contribute coverage of breaking news, entertainment, and sports events from their hometowns and the national stage, and write between 5 to 15 stories. Their stories are published in Scholastic News magazine, and online at www.kpcnotebook.scholastic.com
“Truman has a real gift. Not only was his story accurate, but he had a real flair and voice,” said Suzanne McCabe, the editor of the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. “I was blown away. Our kids surprise me all the time. Sometimes they’re a little shy and don’t realize the power they have to inform other kids and get a story.”
When reviewing applicants, McCabe said she found Truman’s story pitch about the male ballet dancers to be particularly interesting.
“It’s remarkable,” McCabe said. “These kids really give me hope in the future. They’re so aware of the issues around them, child poverty, climate change. It’s a pleasure working with them. We see many of our kids go on to become journalists.”
When he isn’t busy reporting or going to school, Hamade volunteers as a Senate page when the Texas Legislature is in session. He also likes to play guitar, listen to music, and play video games. He thinks media today is becoming more and more biased, but he holds NPR in high regard as his favorite news outlet. He’s also concerned about the issue of fake news.
“Some news stations kind of force their opinion on viewers in a slow and effective way,” Hamade said. “They report in the way they want.”
Hamade said he’s unsure if he wants to go on to be a professional journalist.
“I don’t know. This is a good path to becoming a journalist. I could find interest in doing it, but if I find something I’m better at or talented at, maybe I won’t be a journalist,” He said. “I think journalism is a really interesting thing. You are the news and you get to meet those people and I think it’s amazing.”