By Heba Elsayed
Unis Middle School
Six teams of 8th grade journalism students presented their ideas for innovative ways to deliver news or information at Unis Middle School’s first News Entrepreneurs’ Pitchfest on May 31. Two distinguished judges listened closely, gave feedback, then made the tough decision about which team should take home the big prize of the evening: three bags of candy.
Two teams tied for first place: Team Globehunter, led by Osama Altairy, and Team J-News, led by Aminta Zea. Globehunter is an international news app based on a spinning globe. J-News is a service that offers small bites of news for busy people.
All six ideas presented at the Pitchfest are described in separate stories on The Living Textbook site. The other team names are The Allergizer, The Flashback, Shop and What’s New?
The Pitchfest began with tension in the air, people memorizing lines, and a buzz of background discussion from the dozens of parents and other students in the audience. As the students began to present, judges Pamela Hurtt and Stefanie Murray began to take note and give comment. Hurtt is a senior consultant with the New Economy Initiative, a $100-million program to increase entrepreneurship in Southeast Michigan. Murray is assistant managing editor digital at the Detroit Free Press.
After all the presentations were finished, the judges were given time to discuss and decide on the winning group. During that time, the presenting groups stared fidgeting from excitement and pressure.
As the judges walked back into the Orange Meeting Room, the people in the room became stiff and silent. As soon as the winners were announced, the room burst into applause — and the winners dashed for the candy.
Later, Aminta said, “This project was useful in many ways. Even though we won, this project will not be a big success if we don’t pursue it.” Osama said that he liked the result of his presentation but it could have been better.
Journalism teacher April Kincaid was pleased with the way the Pitchfest turned out. “I was very impressed with the app presentations and the incredible amount of work it took to prepare them,” she said. “My students had to conduct research, create, design, develop, and establish demographic information” about their target audience.
Four professional news organizations covered the Pitchfest, which is an example of growing interest in technology-related entrepreneurship in the Detroit area. Here are links to stories about the Pitchfest by reporters from the Dearborn Patch, the Dearborn Press and Guide, The Arab American News and Model D online magazine.