“For the Students, By the Students”: A Response to Derek Sawvell’s “Case in Point”

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“For the Students, By the Students”: A Response to Derek Sawvell’s “Case in Point”

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From the time that I was young until the present day, my personal goal has been to make as much of a positive impact I can on those around me. My generation is beginning to vocalize our ideas and shape the society that we wish for our own children to grow up in one day. Just take a look at the current move towards a nation that promotes climate health. A sixteen-year-old is now the face for the protest to amend poor climate care, simply by establishing and spreading what she was passionate about to the appropriate audience in the most influential format. Our own students at Wilton Jr./Sr. High School have a similar power within our community. This power isn’t simply due to the fact that we’re now teenagers, seen as young people striving to maneuver their way into the world as true adults, but rather because we have a definitive and striking voice. 

 For example, during my third-grade year, all of the students in my class organized a peaceful protest against the replacement of peanut butter and sunflower butter. We even composed an essay that stated our claim as to why the switch was essentially “devastating” to the school district. While the issue is obviously trivial now, the point is that we directed our passion and opinions properly to evoke the change that we sought to see. 

The Beaver Tale was often overlooked by the vast majority of the high school students unless they had prior knowledge that they would be featured, or that an article would explicitly apply to them. Essentially this paper, though referenced as a Tradition in Mr. Sawvell’s prior opinion piece, was more of a novelty than anything, regardless of how well-written many of the pieces were. The newspaper was not seen as an asset to the students, by the students and many copies were often left undistributed, unread, and unwanted by those who felt that the paper was of no relevance to them. 

Mrs. Lockhart stepped into the Journalism program during my sophomore year and saw the issues that were occurring with the readership. Not only has she been the Journalism I and II teacher for the past three years, but her position also insists that she teach a freshman English class and a Contemporary Literature class that took place of the pre-existing AP English class, which although was a tradition, had no clear benefit to the students who took it, allowing for adaptions to be made in order to better educate the students. I was a student during the first year the class was taught and though it was challenging, it was filled with exceptional content and lessons that clearly impacted those who enroll in Contemporary Literature. 

Mrs. Lockhart has also taken the credible initiative to thus adapt the journalism programs in order to evoke the impact they had the potential to have. As society has evolved, so have the methods in which students obtain information, and Mrs. Lockhart has clearly taken note of that as she transitioned the newspaper to a digital platform this year. This platform allows for far more reach than ever before, spreading beyond the community of Wilton. Though just launching short of a week ago, this website has welcomed over a thousand clicks in a short time, many of which have been the same visitors who would have once been uninterested in reading the paper before. 

Mr. Sawvell made an almost petty revelation that this new format would not possibly serve the students, as well as they may deserve. As a student, I can ensure that I’ve heard far more praise toward the newspaper in the past week than ever before in the past three years that I have attended high school. 

As a yearbook editor, I took the opportunity to document the first color run during homecoming week that this school has ever hosted. Might I add that this idea was one of change and did not abide by the fundamentals of a traditional homecoming. The event was an immense success and truly impacted the energy of the school that week. Students, staff, and community members were jubilant over the event and the pictures that surfaced. As the photographer of the event, I saw first hand just how much impact a modern and incredibly nontraditional change could be. 

These pictures would not have been attained and displayed as easily if Mrs. Lockhart had not prompted for such a solution as the online newspaper. Students and I were passionate about the week and the stories that we presented and for an editor of a professional paper to remark on its service to the students within its first days is incredibly disheartening. How are students expected to pursue passion projects if the outlets in which they do so are mocked and discredited before they even begin? 

The Blue and Gold is a free, online publication that has analytically proven to be effective amongst the student body that has been targeted. It is becoming a platform where students do not need to pay to obtain local, and relevant stories and has adapted to the modern setting of society. To publically attempt to discredit a teacher who has prompted and aided students to document notable news stories and photo galleries is surely an insult to her and the students, such as myself, who have worked diligently to reach our fellow classmates. As a platform where students are not presented with a prompt to apply for a paid subscription each time they wish to read an article online, the Blue and Gold will surely serve the student body and the inquiring public to the best of its abilities.