Eagle River High School students launch newspaper
EAGLE RIVER, Alaska (AP) — A pack of Eagle River Wolves are taking the news into their own paws.
The newly formed school newspaper — the ERHS Howl — began publishing online this semester, with plans to expand into print later this year. In the weeks since school began, the Howl’s young journalists have covered everything from sporting events to school art projects to profiles of students and staff.
“We’ve got a pretty awesome team of students — man, they kind of hit the ground running,” said ERHS English teacher Erik Johnson, sitting on a desk in his classroom one Thursday at lunch.
The newspaper club holds its meetings on Mondays and Thursdays, gathering around a white board in Johnson’s classroom to share article updates and plan future coverage. Story ideas range from school parking to the cost of graduation to freshmen students’ hopes and dreams.
“The hardest part has been organization — getting people organized — because nobody here knows what we’re doing,” said Sara George, an ERHS senior who handles copy editing for the growing school paper. “Even now we’re still trying to figure out how meetings are going to work and how to submit articles, but it’s fun seeing it come together.”
The newspaper is managed by editor-in-chief Alina Cook, an ERHS senior with a passion for writing. While Cook studied journalism at a previous high school in the Lower 48, most of the ERHS Howl students are new to the world of newspapers.
To learn about journalistic ethics, they studied copies of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. To learn about newspaper layout, the students arranged a classroom presentation by a former journalism teacher from Chugiak High School. To learn about reporting, they interview students and teachers and other Chugiak-Eagle River community members.
“I think it’s really cool what we’re trying to do,” said ERHS junior Zosia Krupa, who was recruited to the paper by Cook earlier this year. “It’s really a big learning experience.”
Every week brings another lesson. On an overcast Monday morning in early October, the newspaper club members gathered in their classroom to discuss upcoming deadlines and their inaugural print edition. Though inexperienced, the students were eager to tackle more complicated subjects — relevant, important topics like sex education in schools or youth suicide prevention.
A year ago, after Cook moved to Eagle River from the Lower 48, she said, she began searching for outlets to publish her writing, and a friend from English class began making plans to launch a new school paper — what is now the ERHS Howl. Then that friend committed suicide, Cook said.
“I felt like it was my responsibility to keep (the paper) going,” Cook said.
She did. Now in its first semester, the ERHS Howl is growing by leaps and bounds, cultivating readers and contributors and a website and social media presence and big plans for the future.
“I want to have four tangible papers printed by the end of the year, so we’re going to try to print quarterly, and the end of the first quarter is October 16, so it’s coming up,” Cook said. “I hope it’s going to be really good.”