When members of the Progress staff went to Pickens High School last week to present some newspaper basics to the journalism class taught by Steven Wilkie, on the ride down we agreed not to offer any specific content or layout suggestions.
It was hard living up to that commitment. We soon found ourselves wanting to chime in a time or two to “do it this way.” Happily, we did not.
The first installment of the Dragons’ Lair News (see pages 14A and 15A) this week is not the work of the Pickens Progress, other than by our printer, a contractor in Rome. Our staff lifted no finger in production of page 14A. Students and their adviser did it all. And on page 15A, our only effort was to take student-written stories and re-work the layout to fit in ads.
What you see on pages 14 and 15 of this week’s Progress A-section is truly student work. They are proud of it, and they should be. It is a solid first edition of their high school paper.
A student newspaper should be a standard feature of any high school campus. But Pickens High has lacked one for many years until now. New principal, Eddie McDonald, saw the value in re-establishing one, and Mr. Wilkie, already producing a top-quality yearbook, agreed to add the extra duty.
Both men are to be commended. A student paper means extra work for Wilkie and an extra element for the principal to look over. But what a win it is for students: an educational offering that promotes reading, writing and getting involved––an incentive to become a concerned and communicating community participant. It is a fire lit for warming fellow students with news important to them. It is a forum for the shaping of ideas and their articulation. It is a place where aspiring writers may test their stuff.
We note that a high school newspaper presented this way costs taxpayers nothing to publish. The Progress covers that cost, believing the effort and passion student journalists bring to the bargain will prove our investment a sound one. We wish to continue in the newspaper business. To do so will require a fresh generation of young newspaper readers in this county. We hope the work of our high school counterparts may inspire such a generation.
We seek to promote newspaper readership among younger people here. There is a saying that an educated populace is necessary to a functioning democracy. Certainly there is no better way to keep up with what affects a small-town community than by reading the weekly paper. Community journalism has something for everyone, including the young. We believe the work of some high school writers may prove that in style.
We are excited by the prospect of partnering with this high school news team to monthly present their newspaper inside our own. We may also occasionally feature in the Progress stories by members of the same journalism class in weeks between publication of Dragons’ Lair News, so look for that as well.
For our adult readers, we believe the writings of high school students will be of interest for providing a glimpse of what the youth of our county are doing and thinking about. Too often people complain they don’t understand teenagers. Here’s a chance to hear from some of them firsthand.
There is yet another reason we wanted to do this Dragons’ Lair partnership: everybody has to find a start somewhere. We are sure writers like Studs Terkl, Ernest Hemingway, Joseph Pulitzer, Margaret Mitchell, or Celestine Sibley, though destined for significant fame and success couldn’t have started out with much more than a knack for churning words, the heart to keep doing it and one other very important thing: a chance to be read.
To the students in Mr. Wilkie’s journalism class, here is your chance, your chance to be read. Give it all you have, young person, all your passion and energy, the unbottled drive of youth. And someday we’ll brag of how we knew you at the beginning.
We hope all our readers enjoy the first issue of the Dragons’ Lair News.