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.”

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