Kai Koblentz’s interest in journalism as a career began in fourth grade when he started reading Scholastic Classroom Magazines in school. Little did Kai know that four years later he’d have the opportunity to contribute to the magazines as a member of the award-winning Scholastic Kids Press program.
An eighth grader at Silver Creek Middle School in Chevy Chase, Kai was among the 45 students, ages 10-14, selected in September to be Kid Reporters for the 2020-2021 academic year. Their work will appear on the Scholastic Kids Press website and in select issues of Scholastic Classroom Magazines, reaching 25 million students across the country.
“Kids have experienced monumental changes in their lives this year, prompting questions about health, science, and racial justice,” said Suzanne McCabe, editor of Scholastic Kids Press, in a statement. “By writing about issues that affect them and contextualizing the news for their peers, our Kid Reporters help keep themselves and our young readers informed. By asking tough questions, they also identify leaders in their communities who have solutions.”
As part of his application, Kai was required to submit a sample article. Like a good journalist, he drew from his own life experiences; his family was thinking of getting a pet, so Kai interviewed a local veterinarian about how to keep one safe in the pandemic.
“It was great that Kai took the initiative to apply for this program,” says his dad, Greg Koblentz. “Especially with everything going on in the world today, Kai knows that if other kids have questions … he can come and answer them from a kid’s perspective.”
McCabe, who also serves as advisor to the students in the Scholastic Kids Press program, had positive things to say about the Montgomery County student.
“Kai is an excellent writer,” McCabe tells Montgomery Magazine. “He writes thoughtfully, conveys information accurately and the things that he writes are things that a lot of kids are interested in.”
For his first Scholastic Kids Press article, Kai interviewed a pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital and a few peers about celebrating the holidays during a pandemic. His second article, published last week, explores how the entertainment industry is keeping actors and crew members safe on set. He spoke to an infectious disease epidemiologist from Phoenix, Arizona, who has been working closely with the film industry since March.
Kai plans to continue focusing on the pandemic in his reporting this year. “We’re living in a historic time period, and I think it’s important to document it,” he says.
Looking ahead, Kai’s next step is to position himself to write for his high school newspaper.
“I am still not entirely sure how I will pursue journalism in the future, but being a part of Scholastic Kids Press is a great introduction to the world of journalism,” he says.
Kai Koblentz’s Scholastic Kids Press page and articles can be found here.