VILLA GROVE, Ill. (WCIA) — In Douglas County, a handful of Villa Grove students are taking their language arts class to the next level. They’re dipping their toes into the world of journalism and started a newspaper club. Sarah Leith is one of the teachers behind it all.

“I was just trying to come up with some idea of how I can get the kids excited about writing,” Leith said.

So, she and her seventh graders put their heads together to start a Newspaper Club in Villa Grove.

“They write the articles and then they share them with each other,” Leith described. “Then other students who maybe didn’t want to write an article but they’re really good at finding mistakes in writing, they go in and try to help edit.”

That’s not all — they’re also learning photography and layout skills.

Addison Burris, one of the students said she’s always loved writing and storytelling.

“I also watch the news a lot so I really like listening to different types of information and I like telling people about different kinds of information that’s why I wanted to join,” Burris said.

Leith wants to make sure she’s creating a collaborative, real-world classroom.

“You have to work with other people in the real world and they’re doing a great job working with each other and accepting each other’s ideas,” Leith said. “I love the peer interaction and positivity in there.”

Alice Mitsdarfer, another student in the club, always likes group activities.

It’s an idea Leith is proud of, and one she’s confident will keep growing.

They’re not the only students in Villa Grove starting their journalism careers early. The school also has a yearbook program.

It’s mainly student-led, but Brian Cordes is the advisor behind the action.

He said he never imagined himself being involved in a class like this one, but he wouldn’t change a thing. Now, Cordes describes it as a family atmosphere, that’s continued even after graduation.

“Now baby showers, weddings, things like that I’ve gotten to that point with a lot of my former students so that’s been really surprising and exciting,” he said.

As a teacher, Cordes said it’s always great to have strong relationships with students in the classroom, but it’s a special feeling when it continues even after graduation.