News

Editorial: Journalism - the next generation

 

The importance of high school newspapers and the next generation of journalists made national news last week when student newspaper staff at a public high school in Kansas raised questions about the validity of their new principal's credentials, which ultimately led to her resignation.

Amador Valley and Foothill high schools have a history of strong journalism programs and news coverage.

With a staff of 27, Amador's student news site AmadorValleyToday.org rivals professional sites in its variety of stories and level of engagement. The Amadon print publication is offered on campus or mailed to subscribers' homes.

Foothill's program was strong for many years, but was unfortunately cut for this school year because of low student enrollment, according to school district spokesman Patrick Gannon.

The program was on the chopping block for the 2015-16 school year, but then-junior Kaitlyn Wang took to the internet, specifically Change.org. The petition she launched showed that, while only 20 students enrolled for the class, more than 250 felt the program was important enough to keep on the schedule. Kaitlyn and a host of others were able to keep the program, the In-Flight newspaper and FHSInflight.com alive for one more school year.

Kaitlyn and her 2015-16 In-Flight co-editor-in-chief, Arthur Hwang, wrote in the paper's final editorial: "Sadly, we are announcing today that InFlight News and the journalism class, a tradition of the school since 1973, will unfortunately be graduating with us this year. This will be the last issue of InFlight for the foreseeable future and Journalism will not be returning for 2016-2017. To have fought so hard last year to keep our class only to lose it this year is heartbreaking."

They went on in the editorial to say that programs such as German and choir were also affected and that it is "disheartening and disillusioning to have these programs shut down simply because they are supposedly the most disposable."

"Remember these are not just 'classes' and 'electives'; these are real, individual students, with passions and dreams."

The journalism program and faculty adviser, Mary Crawbuck, had a significant impact on Kaitlyn and Arthur, which included Arthur interning at the Pleasanton Weekly in 2015.

Now a student at Yale University, Arthur said the FHS journalism program "fundamentally changed how I view the world more objectively, more curiously and more empathetically. I grew as a student, person and citizen because I learned that journalism, most importantly, is a form of service."

"The FHS journalism program, for the three years that I was in it, allowed me to grow as a writer and taught me to pursue my curiosity," Kaitlyn said. "Mrs. Crawbuck, in her infinite wisdom, was an integral part of my high school career. I found a community there, and a passion for reporting and storytelling. It's the reason I'm studying journalism at NYU today."

Enough interest exists that Crawbuck said "a small group of very committed, driven and enthusiastic students has approached me about forming a journalism club. They wish to participate in writing and publishing a paper and a website, but do not have room in their schedules for the class."

But a class -- a program -- is very different from a club. A program allows more focus and purpose, as well as commitment.

Journalism is imperative to a healthy democracy, and it is important to groom the next generation of journalists. We do our part by offering summer internships to high-schoolers as well as college students.

"I think the journalism program is so incredibly important," Kaitlyn said. "... in this time of increasing 'fake news,' teaching students how to question things is an invaluable asset to any community. That's what journalism does: It encourages curiosity and finding the answers. It encourages a healthy amount of skepticism and a love for the truth."

Arthur added, "In a world in which many citizens have a hard time discerning 'fake news' and the truth, in a national climate in which the institution of journalism is increasingly delegitimized and discredited, I believe learning about the importance of purposeful, principled journalism and the press is really crucial, and I hope Foothill can revive the journalism program soon."

So do we.

Note: We are still accepting applications for summer internships from high-school students through April 24. Students should send a letter of interest and resume to editor@pleasantonweekly.com.

Condolences

Our heartfelt condolences to the Pleasanton Unified School District community on the losses of Amador Valley High freshman Emma Haus and Pleasanton Middle School teacher Carla Boerman over the past week and a half. We appreciate that district officials provided grief counselors over spring break and that they continue to work with students and staff as they cope with the absence of these two people who were loved and will be missed by many.

Comments

15 people like this
Posted by AVHS Journalism Advisor
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 14, 2017 at 6:56 am

Just to make a slight correction, the AVHS Joirnalism has 54 students in the class this year and has over 70 students signed up for next year. We run a news website, a school newspaper, and a broadcast journalism diviision that runs a bi-weekly news show.

Last week our 11 of students attended that National Journalism Education Association Convention where our student took classes and competed against students from around the country. One of our students received highest honors for her short documentary Refugee.i am very proud of all the students in the program. They are some of the hardest working students on campus working with real deadlines and publishing their work for the world to see and scrutinize.

Journalism is one of the best classes to prepare students for life after high school and college, plus it is a lot of fun. I'm disheartened to hear that it will not be continuing at FHS and not sure why there is such a discrepancy in sign ups between the two schools. This great FHS program will be missed!


12 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Foothill High School
on Apr 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm

You might recall that over the years students at FHS have uncovered many facts about who PUSD has hired, who was put on leave and why, and who has been arrested.

I don't believe for a minute FHS's newspaper was canceled because of lack of interest or lack of funds. Instead they have clashed with the management of PUSD who wants to keep their dirty laundry secret.

This started after FHS students started asking questions about how former female teacher at Foothill Stephanie Deffner was mysteriously re-hired at Parvin Ahmadi's previous district at Kennedy High / Fremont Unif. Web Link during Ahmadi's management of the District after all of the local newspapers reported that Deffner was arrested for drug charges.

Students were curious - typically drug charges and convictions lead to the state agency that handles teacher's credentials revoking credentials. Why did this not happen? This seems odd. Also, what happened with that other teacher, Ms. Andrade?

FHS students and parents would like to know the truth, but since the school newspaper was discontinued, it is up to the local newspapers to investigate and inform the community.



14 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 17, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Jaime Hintzke is a Pleasanton Weekly basher.
She encouraged local realtors not to purchase advertisement in the weekly.
It is reasonable for me to assume;
Had Jaime not been reelected, Journalism would probably remain at Foothill High School.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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