Southwest students have a nose for news
October 26, 2016
For the first time in over a decade, the Southwest Middle School students are getting a voice in the school’s news. This year is the first in 14 that the middle school has a journalism class, and eight students, seventh and eighth graders, are lending their voices to the goings on at Southwest.
English and journalism teacher Lee Stubblefield said the class has student work being posted in their online publication almost daily, and the students’ skills are getting better thanks to the dedicated class. Stubblefield said, “I know that their writing is improving just from the sheer amount of composition I require of them.”
Stubblefield said, “Since it is all online, it is constantly being updated. I try to edit and post student work to “The SWMS Chronicle” every day if possible.”
The middle schoolers join the high school in a dedicated journalism endeavor. The high school level is taught by Steve Voyak, and their class is a joint effort with the yearbook. The high school newspaper is published roughly three times each semester. The high school publication is online, as well, but there are a couple print copies circulated at the school’s library.
Voyak said that while the yearbook/journalism class competes with a lot of other popular classes, it does have some steady followers, including one student who has taken it three years in a row. Cassie Teal, a senior this year, said she has learned some valuable things through her studies, “The creative process is my favorite part, coming up with something interesting.”
Voyak noted, “We’ve always had a lot of ideas, but having them actually follow through, that is the amazing part. It’s not only done, it’s done well.”
Teal added, “I think its helped me a lot with my public speaking.”
The middle school and high school students both get a variety of areas to work in. Stubblefield said, “I give the students a lot of leeway in their choice of subjects and story lines. Surprisingly, sports is not the first reach of most of my students. They enjoy writing biographies of both staff and students, and covering club news.”
Similarly, Teal noted that her favorite stories have been interviewing individuals, and an upcoming story will be about a student in the district overcoming adversity. Other topics have included Halloween costumes and interviewing Santa Claus for themed-editions of the publication.
Voyak said that this year, they’ve branched into more serious topics, as well. He said, “We actually had an incident with a bus in the district, and we used that as an opportunity to talk to administrators about what happened and talk about bus safety. It went really well.”
Up next, Stubblefield plans to let the middle schoolers branch out into student perspective writing.
One of Stubblefield’s students shared her perspective on the class. Alexis Isbell said, “Southwest Middle School Journalism is a class of respect. We, the students, take our work personally. We don’t want to disappoint Mr. Stubblefield. He has high goals for us, and we want to achieve them.”
Isbell added, “We try to connect personally with the stories. We even go to the games and take pictures of the athletes. We also take pictures of what’s going on at school, like Hat Days, Spirit Week, Pajama Day and more.”
Another student, Brooklynne Morgan said, “I feel a part of something important when I get information and make into an article that everyone can read.”
With the re-introduction of the journalism class, younger students are getting the foundation to build on once they hit the high school level, but it isn’t just about writing. Stubblefield said, “I want them to learn to think on their feet, to recognize a good story when they see one, to learn time management skills and to take pride in and ownership of their work.”
The Southwest High School online newspaper can be found online at http://www.swr5.net/hs/hsactivities/hsjournalism. The middle school paper is online at http://theswmschronicle.blogspot.com/.