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Pa. teen has been town's crier

January 04, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

MERCERSBURG, PA.

For eight years, villagers of Welsh Run, Pa., have relied on Welsh Run Kids News to keep them informed of local happenings.

Kids News started as a "crazy idea" that Lillie Ostoich had when she was 12 years old. She liked writing and asked her mother if she could start her own newspaper.

In 1998, Ostoich wrote, printed and sent out 25 copies of her first edition of Welsh Run Kids News.

For years, villagers have learned of community gatherings, new neighbors and even of people's renovation projects in the colorful pages of the free monthly newspaper.

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"I love interviews. I love to talk to people, to learn what's going on," Ostoich said.

She started writing poetry and short stories when she was 8, Ostoich said. She got "addicted" to writing and interested in journalism.

"Composition has always been a fort of mine," she said.

Ostoich's friend, Emily Cradduck, served as an editor.

In the kids' section, Ostoich and Cradduck have written about local teenagers' travels and school activities. Lead articles have focused on upcoming village events, like picnics.

A calendar of events and monthly Bible verse also have graced the front page of the four-page publication.

At its high point, the Ostoich family mailed out 80 copies of Welsh Run Kids News to paying subscribers each month and delivered another 60 copies.

The most recent edition of the paper came out in October.

With Cradduck away at college and Ostoich a senior at James Buchanan High School, there isn't enough time for a monthly edition. Brainstorming ideas, setting up interviews, writing and layout all take time, Ostoich said.

Ostoich parlayed her years of editing the village newspaper into her senior project, a graduation requirement. Her project on the importance of small-town journalism included videotaped interviews with her Welsh Run neighbors. In the interviews, her neighbors talked about how Welsh Run Kids News tied the community together.

Reading the same news each month brought the village closer, said Beth Ostoich, Lillie's mother. The paper helped popularize local picnics and prompted people to be more kind and considerate, she said.

"It's a sense of community I don't think you would find anywhere else," she said.

The newspaper's days could be numbered.

Lillie Ostoich plans to attend college next year, and she doesn't have anyone to take over Welsh Run Kids News, she said.

For a long time, Ostoich thought she would study journalism in college. But after a mission trip to Glasgow, Scotland, and working at Camp Joy El in Greencastle, Pa, she decided to study social work and teaching English as a second language.

Ostoich attends Tri-State Fellowship in Hagerstown and envisions herself going on missions in the future.

"I wanted to be out making a difference," she said. "Out in the world helping people who really need the help."

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