Article on my newspaper kids and me!

Not a real post from me, but my students and I were featured in a local newspaper and I figured it was worth sharing!

Full article available here

Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Watkins Mill High School revives student newspaper

by Alex Ruoff

The Gazette
This month a lost tradition is expected to return to Watkins Mill High School: the student newspaper.

The newspaper, The Current, has been absent from the school for more than five years after interest in it reportedly waned and student participation fell.

This year, English teacher Sara Goodman began an introductory journalism class at Watkins Mill aimed at reviving the once award-winning paper and, she hopes, inspiring a few writers in the process.

“I want these kids to see that words have power,” she said. “I want them to see that writing matters.”

Although several articles already have run on the newspaper’s website, the first print edition of The Current is expected to be published March 23, Goodman said. The inaugural edition has a budget of $1,500, and will be eight pages and void of any advertising.

Watkins Mill senior Angela Nino, 17, was preparing stories for the edition Thursday, editing another student’s preview of a performance of the musical “Guys and Dolls,” set to premiere at the school. She said she elected to take the class to help improve her creative writing skills.

The staff for The Current range from freshman to senior students, most of whom will help write, edit and lay out the paper, as well as seek advertisers.

For the upcoming edition, Nino is writing a feature on Matthew Johnson, a paraeducator at Watkins Mill who moonlights as a mascot for the Baltimore Orioles, and will help put together a story on which of her school’s teachers have tattoos; pieces she hopes will get the school talking.

“Well, we knew that some teachers had tattoos, but like almost the whole social studies department has them,” she said.

The school will offer the Journalism 1 class as an elective again next year — introducing students to Associated Press style, the basics of newspaper design and interviewing skills — and introduce Journalism 2, a more advanced writing class, both taught by Goodman, to help generate longer articles for the paper. Currently, the school’s only journalism class has 17 students enrolled in it.

The Current was last listed in publication with the National Scholastic Press Association, a nonprofit group that aims to provide students and teachers with journalism education services as well as critiques of student-operated newspapers, in 1997, two years after the paper earned an award for quality high school journalism from the group.

The Current is not the first student paper Goodman, a published author and former journalism student at the University of Maryland, where she wrote for the student newspaper The Diamondback, has needed to build from the ground up.

When Clarksburg High School opened in 2006, Goodman said the local booster club gave her $500 to start The Howl, now published monthly at the school.

Montgomery County schools are home to several nationally recognized student newspapers, including The Rockville High School Rampage, the paper at Rockville High School in Rockville, and Silver Chips, the paper at Silver Spring’s Montgomery Blair High School, both of which were finalists for last year’s National Scholastic Press Association’s Online Pacemaker award, which is given to school newspapers on the cutting edge of online journalism.

Blair’s Silver Chips has been in publication for nearly 75 years, requires its student reporters to first complete a yearlong journalism course, and employs an eight-person advertising staff, said Claire Boston, the editor-in-chief of Silver Chips and a Blair senior. The magnet school also boasts a communication arts program that specializes in journalism.

The quality of a student newspaper at any high school generally varies depending on a number of factors, such as student interest and if the school provides journalism classes, which are not required in many school districts such as Montgomery County Public Schools, said Logan Aimone, executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association.

“Some schools have 100-year-old traditions, where teachers are teaching journalism all day … and some don’t,” he said. “It just depends on the school and the students.”

Advertisements

An iPhone screen is like a heart: easily broken and expensive to fix

The thing that I have been dreading since I first got my iPhone finally happened last week.

I broke the screen.

Now maybe I’m looking at this calamity the wrong way. My dad always says the two best days in a boat owner’s life are the day he buys his first boat the day he sells his first boat. Maybe breaking an iPhone is just a rite of passage that all Apple-addicts must go through at some point in order to reach full emotional maturity.

Or maybe I’m just a freaking idiot because I broke it while walking Rosie. In stilettos. Which, in hindsight, was perhaps not my smartest plan. She saw another dog and took off, and I flailed wildly to keep my balance, in the process dropping my phone. Face down. On the concrete.

But even then, I didn’t panic. As a major klutz, that was not the first brush with concrete that my phone has suffered. And in each previous plummet, it survived unscathed, with perhaps a scratch on the screen protector.

But not this time. This time, the entire face was shattered. And with it, any veneer of cool that I had possessed that day.

So I did what I always do in times of emotional and financial crisis: I called my daddy. Who patiently waited out my sobs, then postulated the theory that the evil goose that’s been stalking me was really to blame for the broken phone.

Then he told me that it really wasn’t so bad in the long run. My grandmother broke her ankle walking Rosie last year (which, to be fair, was because she insisted on walking over a patch of ice to try to find Rosie some un-snow-covered grass to pee on, despite my repeatedly telling her that Rosie LIKES peeing on snow), had surgery to correct it, got a MRSA infection in the bone, and almost lost her foot. A year later, she’s FINALLY walking on her own and doing fine, but in the grand scheme of things, a broken iPhone is NOT the worst Rosie-related catastrophe in the world.

Who knew the face of evil could be so cute?

And while he’s probably right, I’m broke. And don’t have a landline. And use my cell phone for EVERYTHING under the sun. Literally. It’s a phone, an internet device, a mobile hotspot, a music player, a camera, a mirror, a coaster, a Frisbee, etc.  Seeing me without my phone in my hand would be like seeing my dad without a Starbucks cup. Like seeing my mom without makeup on. Like seeing Jesus without his crown of thorns. Like seeing Dan Snyder without his cloven hoofs and devil horns.

It would just be confusing and wrong. And while the phone still technically worked, every time I looked at that cracked screen, it broke my heart a little.

So under my dad’s advisement, I went to the Verizon store and lied through my teeth. Which, I’ve found, is ALWAYS the best policy when dealing with Verizon. My mother and I are still on a family plan together and I’m technically not allowed to do ANYTHING with the account, so lie number one was that my name is Carole.

Which, because my mother refuses to deal with Verizon AT ALL under ANY circumstances, is a lie that I’m used to. I now know her social security number, Verizon account password, bra size, the vision restrictions on her driver’s license, the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow and any other random information that they might ask for to access the account.

Then came lie number two, which was a result of my cardinal rule when dealing with Verizon:  NEVER admit to breaking your own phone. If you do that, you’re not getting a new one, even with the insurance. Instead, I decided to play two truths and a lie. I said that I’m a teacher (true), and a kid was playing with my phone at school that day (also true), and that the kid dropped it and it broke (LIE). Then I batted my eyelashes and asked, in my best Blanche Dubois, “I have always depended on the kindess of strangers,” damsel-in-distress way, if there was ANYTHING that they could do to help me.

Normally, that works.

And had it been ANY other kind of phone, it would have worked in this situation as well, but unfortunately, Apple is its own entity unrelated to Verizon. And the Verizon store can’t give me a new iPhone, no matter how cute I am or how pathetic my story is.

At which point, I dropped the “oh please help me Mr. Big Strong Man” act and was all business.

Which meant calling the Apple insurance company, telling them the same lie (hey it MIGHT have worked this time around. Plus the Verizon store guy was still there and in case I needed to pull the damsel-in-distress thing in the future, I didn’t want him to know I’d lied), and finding out that iPhone insurance means you get a BRAND NEW REPLACEMENT PHONE THE VERY NEXT DAY.

I was ecstatic! I did a little happy dance! I cried tears of pure joy! I hugged the Verizon store guy!

Then they told me about the $200 deductible.

Of course, with the way my mind words, I hear $200 and immediately convert that into two Springsteen tickets (or one plus Ticketmaster fees).

Then I convert it into the number of pairs of shoes I could buy (3-4). But I’m not giving up either of those, and I couldn’t live with the cracked screen, so it was better to give up two weeks worth of groceries instead. I’ve been losing weight for summer anyway. Who REALLY needs to eat?

New iPhone it was.

And, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, the next day, when I got home from school, a BRAND NEW IPHONE was waiting for me, ready to use! It wasn’t even a refurbished one like when you have to go through Verizon for the insurance. And, because unlike all things PC, Apple does NOT suck, restoring it to the old, broken iPhone’s backup was a piece of cake.

And all was again right with the world.

The new phone, however, does have a far more protective case on it. And I suppose the real lesson that I should have learned is to change my shoes before I walk Rosie after school. Which, let’s face it, probably isn’t going to happen. Because, as the old 80s Saturday Night Live Billy Crystal sketches always said, “It is better to look good than to feel good.”

Why did the goose cross the road? Because it hates me…

Monday morning, as I was driving to school, I had a near death experience.

I almost hit a goose.

Granted, that probably wouldn’t have caused MY death. But it would have damaged my car, and at that point, I would have gotten out of the car and if the goose wasn’t dead, I would have made sure it felt the full force of my wrath.

But there I was, driving to school, following the speed limit exactly, because I’m never running late in the morning (yeah, I can’t even type that with a straight face. Fine, I was running massively late and therefore speeding. And on the phone with Darya telling her about some less-than-blog-appropriate exploits from my weekend. And putting on lipgloss. Texting while driving may be illegal, but I’ve never seen a law against applying makeup while driving. Which, to be honest, is probably more dangerous than texting while driving in my case), when all of a sudden, I’m forced to SLAM on the breaks, praying that there isn’t a car following too closely behind me, to avoid murdering this poor, bewildered creature that happened to cross my path on Montgomery Village Avenue.

Which I’m sure scared Darya as much as it scared me, because mid-sentence, I suddenly screamed, “GOOOOOOOOSE!!!!!!” Not what you want yelled in your ear at 7:15am.

I stop just in time. And so does the goose, which then proceeds to plant itself in the middle of the road and glare at me.

Now, I’m a teacher. I’m good at giving the glare of death. But I could learn a few things from this goose, because not only was it NOT budging, I was pretty intimidated by the way it was looking at me.

But I was late for school. (Or if my principal is reading this, I was on time and didn’t WANT to be late for school! Honest!) And that goose was in my way. So I did what any normal person would do. I ran the little bastard over.

Not really. I actually honked my horn.

Nothing happened.

I rolled down my window and tried to reason with it. “Hey goose! Get out of my way!”

Nothing.

And finally, the goose won, because I backed up, got into the other lane, and drove around it. And I swear it was glaring at me in the rearview mirror as I drove away.

But, with that behind me, I continued on my way to school, only mildly later than I had already been, and didn’t think more of it.

Until Tuesday. When I was driving along, late for school, applying my lipgloss, and rocking out to the new Bruce album, which came out that morning, and suddenly had to jam on the breaks again and scream “GOOOOOOOOSE!!!!!!”

Yes. There was a goose in the middle of the road. And I swear it was the same one because it was sitting there waiting for me. Glaring at me. Making it perfectly clear through its evil goose-telepathy that it was daring me to hit it.

And once again, I tried reasoning with it, I tried honking at it, but in the end, had to go around the goose.

I do understand that normal people would probably assume it was a coincidence. The odds of it being the SAME goose are pretty small, and clearly geese lack the intelligence to glare at me maliciously while shooting evil mental telepathy at me.

But I’m not normal. Because I understand that the avian world is out to get me.

Need proof? My first complete sentence was “duck bite hand,” which was the result of the first time a bird attacked me. Then when I was two, an ostrich attacked me for my peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a petting zoo. And there was the one that almost pecked my brother’s eye out at the San Diego zoo. And the seagull that pooped on me at the beach. And the one that defiled the inside of my new convertible the day that I got it. Birds are evil, evil creatures. And for whatever reason, they have identified me as their primary target.

At this point, the movie The Birds scares me more than ET does, and that’s saying a lot.  (I don’t care if you loved that movie as a kid, that little alien monster is freaky!)

So Wednesday, I left a couple of minutes early to foil the evil goose’s attempt to make me late to work again. And as I rounded the corner where the creature usually waits for me, I slowed down to avoid causing further damage to my brake pads.

No goose to be seen.

But now I’m worried. Because what if the goose WAS planning to ambush me again and didn’t foresee my ability to leave the house early? It’ll just be angrier now. And I’m completely positive that I’m going to go out to my car after school one day and it’s going to be sitting in the parking lot behind my car, leaving me with no escape route to avoid hitting it.

Or worse, be ON my car.

Not my car.  But clearly it CAN happen!

Or even worse, it will have left me a present on my car. And not the kind I want. The kind Rosie leaves on my rug when she’s angry with me.

Actually, now that I think about it, it might be worth the damage to my car to run the evil goose over.

Game on, evil goose. Game on.

My dad doesn’t want to fix my house anymore–time to get married!

Friday night, my garbage disposal stopped working.

But I didn’t panic. Oh no. I very calmly did what any independent, self-reliant young woman with her own home would do.

I called my daddy and cried that I broke my house.

Sadly, this is not an uncommon occurrence in my life.

Call me melodramatic if you will, but I tend to rank anything broken around the house that I can’t fix on my own as catastrophic on the level of a Godzilla attack. And consequently, if I call my dad and just say “Hey dad, my garbage disposal isn’t working. Can you come take a look at it?” he’s not coming. But if I cry and tell him that I broke my house, I’ll usually get the help that I need.

Unfortunately, this has led to a bit of a boy-who-cried-wolf (or in my case, girl-who-cried-broken-house) dilemma. So when I told my dad that my house was broken, he sighed and asked what it was this time. And when I told him what the problem was, he tried to tell me how to fix it myself.

Meaning what I heard was something akin to Charlie Brown’s teacher talking. Seriously. He told me to try pushing the button on the bottom of the garbage disposal and I heard “whomp whomp whomp whomp whomp.”

But I’m making an attempt to be less helpless, so I decoded what he was saying and eventually ventured into the murky shadowland under my kitchen sink looking for this mysterious button that he spoke of.

And, feeling like Indiana Jones about to swipe that weird gold thing in Raiders of the Lost Ark (and equally expecting a giant bolder to chase me out of my kitchen after pushing the button), I pushed it.

And nothing happened.

Crap.

“It didn’t work, daddy.”

Another sigh. And some more whomping that equated to “check the fuse box.” Which I’m actually an expert at, because thanks to those lovely “hot girl problems” that I have, I blow fuses pretty regularly when I’m drying my hair. (And because I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy, blowing fuses sounds really dirty and I’m giggling as I’m writing it. I also can’t say the word “penis” with a straight face.)

But no fuses had blown. And my dad’s next instruction, to stick an appropriately-sized allen wrench in the hole on the bottom of the garbage disposal and turn was so far outside of my home-repair abilities that I was forced to return to my initial assertion that my house was broken.

And for the first time in my life, my daddy seemed reluctant to come over and fix my broken house. Which led me to the only logical conclusion that I could draw from this scenario: it’s time for me to get married. Because there are just some tasks that I’m incapable of doing (or, more realistically, completely unwilling to do) on my own. Specifically, I mean anything more complicated than a burned out lightbulb.

I’m not going to lie and claim that I’m the poster child for feminism—if you’re a loyal Sara*ndipity reader, you’d know that’s not true anyway considering that I wrote a post on hot girl problems and one a while ago about my inability to jumpstart a car or change a tire. But I think it’s only fair that guys should have to deal with certain icky jobs around the house that I don’t want to do. Like anything dealing with plumbing. Or killing bugs.

The girls reading this are probably all nodding right now, while the guys are asking why that’s supposed to be fair.

Well, I’ll tell you. There are two main reasons.

Okay, I guess there are other reasons to get married as well. Like love and children and tax breaks and all that stuff. But for me, I think the main draw right now would be having someone to take care of all the things that I can’t (won’t) do.

For example, if there is anything wrong with the toilet, I’m not fixing it. I’m just not. A couple years ago, mine was running randomly, and my dad tried to walk me through the process of replacing that rubber floaty thingy in the tank to make it stop.

Three hours, some yelling (on my part), some crying (on both of our parts), and a minor apartment flood later, my dad came over and fixed my toilet. And to this day, I have no idea why I was incapable of doing that myself when it took him less than thirty seconds to do, nor do I have any idea what that rubber floaty thingy is called.

But it’s the kind of thing that, if I had a live-in man, could have been fixed quickly, with less yelling, crying, and flooding.

So, with no rational solution to the garbage disposal situation in sight (because I wasn’t going to pay someone to fix it. I’m broke from buying tickets to see Bruce four times in the same week on this upcoming tour), I started husband hunting.

Which did not go so well.

Apparently men these days are looking for a little more romance than, “Let’s get hitched so you can fix my garbage disposal and any other random crap that I manage to break around my house.” Who knew gender roles had done such a complete 180?

Luckily, my dad proved that he does love me and doesn’t want me to marry someone solely for plumbing skills, because he came over bright and early the next morning with a set of allen wrenches, and within approximately 2.6 seconds of walking in the front door, my garbage disposal was working like a champ again.

Which made me feel like a complete moron for not being able to fix it myself. But better to be a moron with a working garbage disposal and a daddy who loves me than a moron with a broken garbage disposal, right?

I’ll keep telling myself that.

And thanks dad.