Smooth sailing

The Periscope established in second year

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Amanda Toy always knew she wanted to write for her high school newspaper.

But the Steamboat Springs High School junior ran into an obstacle last year -- the school didn't have one.

"Students never really had a voice," Toy said Wednesday. "The only publication was the newsletter, which is purely (written by the school's) administration. I always wanted to try journalism, so I figured other kids did, too."

With the blessing of high school Principal Dave Schmid and the help of fellow junior Abby Johnson and others, the paper became a reality.

The Periscope -- the name given to the paper -- printed six issues over the course of the 2002-03 school year, during which the newspaper's staff ran into its fair share of start-up problems.

"It was hard -- we didn't even know what to do," Toy said. "We had to think about everything, including the day-to-day operations of a newspaper."

A host of other issues, including a lack of funding and the difficulty of finding motivated student writers, added to first-year hardships, Toy said. But a couple of grants helped, including one from the Education Fund Board, which provided money for a new computer and QuarkXPress publishing software.

Now, with a year of experience under its belt, The Periscope staff and its paper are growing in size and substance.

After securing only one advertiser for its first issue last year, the paper now has more than 10, Toy said. About 30 students attended Wednesday's second staff meeting of the school year, and the Sept. 30 issue will have 16 pages, matching the size of last year's largest Periscope issue.

"This year's been a lot easier now that we know what to do," Toy said. "I think we established ourselves last year."

Being part of the newspaper is strictly extracurricular -- no class or credit is offered, though many of the school's English teachers are now offering extra credit to students who write for the paper and turn in their stories by deadline.

Perhaps more important, the student body is taking notice of the newspaper and the issues it addresses, Toy said. The best example, she said, is a series of stories and editorials on the school's newly implemented honor code.

"I knew people were reading it because it was the first time I heard students talking about (the honor code)," Toy said.

This year's staff of about 40 students is headed by Toy, the paper's editor; senior Evan Gaffney, the entertainment editor; junior Kelly Shaw, the news editor; junior Anisa Yamada, the activities and sports editor; and Johnson. A number of other contributors, including comic strip illustrators, graphic designers, photographers and writers, also will be working to put together the newspaper, which will be printed in seven issues.

For sophomore Lauren Furnish, the paper provides an avenue for students with a passion for writing.

"I want to be a writer when I grow up, so (the paper) is pushing me in different ways and helping me learn more about styles of writing," Furnish said.

The Periscope receives minimal faculty guidance -- English teacher Tom Fitzgerald is the paper's adviser.

Though Fitzgerald attends the paper's staff meetings and stays involved with The Periscope's production, his approach as adviser is mostly hands-off.

"Sometimes I have to help kids realize they're writing for an audience," Fitzgerald said. "But by and large, the kids write pretty well. They have a good sense of it.

"(The paper) has come together mostly because we have a real strong core group of editors who are committed and passionate about putting out a good paper."

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