CHS newspaper staffers share expertise, enthusiasm

It took a story that made people mad to underscore the impact of journalism for Wolfpacket editor-in-chief Kimberly Chen.

A reporter for Claremont High School’s student newspaper wrote an opinion piece last spring, saying letterman jackets should only be awarded to athletes. A student who excels in a non-sports activity, the author argued, should be recognized another way.

The staff was surprised at how quickly the letters began pouring in. A few agreed with the article’s premise. Others, penned by students involved in letter-awarding activities like speech, debate and theater, expressed outrage. For every letter submitted, a dozen other students approached Wolfpacket staffers to debate the issue.

“It was interesting,” Kimberly said. “We hadn’t sparked that kind of controversy before.”

Because most CHS students own a letterman jacket or aspire to, the story was relevant to the student newspaper’s readership, according to Eva Landsberg, assistant editor-in-chief.

“People were talking about it. It got people more interested in the newspaper,” she said.

It’s this kind of engagement that has Kimberly and Eva, both seniors, hooked on journalism. Hoping to foster the same enthusiasm in other teens, the girls and their fellow Wolfpacket staffers hosted a journalism workshop on Friday, August 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Aimed at CUSD students ages 12-17 with an interest in journalism, the event featured stations manned by the staff ready to teach participants various aspects of newspaper production, like interviewing, opinion writing, news writing and photography/cartooning.

After traveling from station-to-station, getting a journalism “passport” stamped, participants broke for a pizza lunch. Afterward, they had 90 minutes to write a news or opinion story with a back-to-school theme. The article was to be accompanied by their own artwork.

Staffers were on hand to offer one-on-one mentoring. The stories and art submitted by the budding journalists was surprisingly strong, Eva said. She and Kimberly will spend the next few days publishing program to create a mini-newspaper full of the material generated at the workshop. It will be sent to participants’ home addresses.

The workshop was funded by a $2000 grant from the city’s Teen Committee. Last year’s Wolfpacket editor-in-chief Lily Comba, wrote the application. The workshop cost much less, but the grant was written in a way that ensures leftover money can be used for the production of the Wolfpacket during the coming school year.

With 10 participants, Eva considers the workshop a success. 

“We had this big fear that basically no one would show up and it would be 20 members of the Wolfpacket staff and no students,” she said. “Every time we got a new RSVP, Kimberly and I would get really excited and text each other with exclamation points.”

Eva says the Wolfpacket staff hopes to offer another workshop next summer, if not before. She and Kim are excited about their leadership roles with the newspaper, and are looking forward to another year immersed in an art British poet Matthew Arnold once called…“Literature in a hurry.”

“I love all the aspects of the newspaper,” Kim enthused. “You can review books, write a serious article, and then have your voice heard in opinions—all the aspects that make the newspaper a spectrum.”

—Sarah Torribio


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