Journalism Education Programs excel thanks to Mason High School faculty

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Yearbook Advisor, Kristin Higgins, helps yearbook editor Madeline Newport and staff member Samantha Morris with their current projects.

By Madelyn Scroggie
The Mason Times

Mason, Mich. – The Mason High School faculty wants students to develop critical thinking skills and be empowered to succeed. The high school has specifically developed programs such as the yearbook and newspaper to help aspiring journalism students do just that. They are focused on a custom writing service to help mold these future journalists.

“It is a high school class but sometimes I think there is a learning curve because the students have to realize it’s more like a job,” said Sabriena Bennett, high school newspaper advisor. “Everyone in the class has different Course Code: CHC40213, and when the responsibilities aren’t filled then somebody else has to pick up the slack.”

Bennett said that in order to be a part of the staff students are required to have a recommendation as well as a sample writing piece.

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The yearbook staff works diligently to get their work done as the year comes to a close.

“Because journalism class is so different from any other class here at the school, once they are in the class they learn pretty quickly what they like or don’t like,” said Bennett. “It’s different, it’s not just writing an essay and you’re good to go.”Bennett said that they publish once a month but have started implementing more online aspects which allows them to publish in a more timely manner.

“The question is, is there every really a typical day in the newsroom?” said Bennett. “Every single day students are out there researching, interviewing, taking photos, on the computers, designing, calling businesses. I mean they are busy.”

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Yearbook editor Madeline Newport works closely with staff member Samantha Morris in the classroom.

The introduction to interviewing has proved to have been easier for the students who take on the buddy system, said Bennett.

“Some students are better at going out and being able to talk to people and interview because they just take the bull by the horns and go with it,” said Bennett. “Some students struggle but they still will push themselves especially if they get to go with a partner.”

Due to the difficulty of the class Bennett said that typically it is only open to the upperclassmen. However, this year she has had ninth through twelfth graders on her staff.

“It can be really stressful for the underclassman but I think I have some really mature freshman that have done really well,” said Bennett. “It’s just been an adjustment for them.”

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Newport and Morris bounce ideas off one another as they finish up their work for the yearbook.

This being Bennett’s first year as the newspaper advisor she said she was extremely excited to have had some of her students win awards at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association or MIPA.

“One student was named part of MIPA’s 2016 student journalist staff, which is a really high honor. Then we also got a couple first place awards for column writing, personal narratives, design, as well as a couple others,” said Bennett. “It was very exciting because the students had no idea what to expect.“

Another Mason High School program, the yearbook, run by advisor Kristin Higgins, said that her class is not specific to only journalism, but rather her students have the opportunity to learn the business aspect of yearbook selling as well.

“Students in my class earn business credit. We run the yearbook as a small business, obviously not intended for profit,” said Higgins.

Learning the business side of selling yearbooks is one aspect of the class but the students still carry out journalistic tasks in order to create the book.

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Higgins keeps this half of the room open for her daily staff meetings with her yearbook staff as well as individual meetings with her students.

“Most hours are spent interviewing students, taking photos, uploading information to the program, designing, and editing,” said Higgins. “I also have individual meetings with each staff member periodically to check on the progress of their pages and edit with them.”

Higgins said that she has been the yearbook advisor in Mason for 12 years now and always likes to start her class out with a staff meeting to touch base with everyone and their progress.

“At our staff meetings we talk about what everyone’s assignments are, what our next deadline is, where we stand with our add sales, where we stand with our book sales, and what we need to do to get sales up, “ said Higgins.

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This half of the room houses the computers where the students work on their pages all hour long after their staff meetings.

Despite running the yearbook from a more business aspect, the school’s yearbook staff has been recognized nationally as well.

“This is the fifth year that we have been recognized for what’s called the National Yearbook Program of Excellence. It’s based on a series of qualifications,” said Higgins.

Yearbook editor Madeline Newport said that she has learned a lot from her job. She said she has to look at all the different pages before the deadline, edit them, and work with different staff members to help them on their pages.

“I’ve learned a lot of different communication skills, how to meet deadlines, patience, and how to work hard under a certain amount of time,” said Newport.

Senior yearbook staff member Samantha Morris said that she has learned a lot of skills from the class which she will utilize as she heads off to college in the fall.

“I’ve really had to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve had to meet new people, talk to new people, and trying things that I’ve never done before,” said Morris. “I think expanding my comfort zone in this class will help to prepare me for college.”

 

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