A look into the Journalism elective and the Eagle Era
Fifth period with Mr. Savoie is a class with few boundaries. Do you want to write your monthly articles? Go for it–you’re going to need to do them sooner or later. If you want to interview a teacher or administrator, take pictures, or eat candy from Mr. Savoie’s cabinets, go for that too. As a shared period with Yearbook, Journalism writes and publishes the Eagle Era, the school newspaper, every month in a rewarding process that allows us to meet new people, make new friends, and get out of our comfort zones.
The process starts with monthly budget meetings, where staff writers, who are first-year Journalism students, present ideas for articles they want to write in the next month. After receiving their topics, each staff writer goes their own way for interviewing sources and creating an engaging story.
As media editor in her second year of Journalism, Rebecca Beddingfield (11) recalls the process of writing articles the year before as something that she really enjoyed.
“To be honest, the exciting part is getting the sources and interviewing them, but writing is artistic in its own way,” Beddingfield explains. “You’re not supposed to have a big opinion in the story [because] we’re a non-biased student-run organization, but the way that you formulate other people’s opinions is what makes the story. You relate a bunch of people who seem unrelated at the surface, and you put them all together. I feel like I love doing that…and [making] a cohesive start-to-finish kind of thing.”
For staff writer Emyr Ortiz (10), who came into the class not knowing what to expect, Journalism is a rewarding experience that he has learned a lot from.
“One of my favorite memories was being able to talk to a reporter for ABC7 for one of my articles,” he says. “That was pretty cool because, at school, the most important people that you’ll ever talk to is the principal if you get in trouble, and that’s usually not what you want to do. Being able to go up to these people that you see on TV and having an excuse to say something to them and talk to them for twenty plus minutes–that’s pretty cool.”
After the staff writers finish their rough drafts, the co-editors-in-chief and Mr. Savoie all offer suggestions on each article.
“We check over the articles, [and] make sure [the staff writers] reach the deadline,” editor-in-chief Michelle Lee (12) says. “Then we edit over [and] leave suggestions, and then after that, we let them finalize the edits until the final deadline. We take the articles that are completed, and then we arrange them how we think they’d look best on the newspaper, like maybe some articles would fit better on the front page, and some articles have similar topics so we’d stick on them on another page.”
Along with publishing the Eagle Era every month, another aspect of the class is Humans of American, a social media project inspired by Humans of New York that tells the stories of the student body.
“My favorite part [of being a staff writer] was interviewing for Humans of American because it’s so interesting getting the chance to meet a lot of new people around campus,” editor-in-chief Annie Liu (12) explains. “[They’re] people who you might not always have the chance to interact with otherwise, so it’s really interesting to see all these people’s stories. Interviewing in general for articles [helps] you open yourself up to so many different opportunities, different scenarios, different people doing different things.”
For Mr. Savoie, who serves as an advisor rather than a traditional teacher, Journalism is a class that he takes a hands-off approach on.
“I really try to facilitate what the editors want to try to do [and] what the staffers want to try to do because it should be the students’ paper, not my paper,” he explains. “I think in classes like this, I get an opportunity to see people’s personalities come out a little bit more because the loose structure to the class allows kids to focus on their strengths, and they can lean on each other for their weaknesses. They don’t feel like they have to fit into a certain mold; they can find their own space in the class.”
Despite what its loose structure might imply, the class pushes students to grow and thrive.
“I came into Journalism relatively shy and [without] that much leadership experience,” Liu says. “Throughout the course of my first year as a staff writer, it really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I had to go to a board meeting for my first article, which was super scary, but it was things like this that really taught me [that] it’s so important to step out of your comfort zone. You gain so much more from just overlooking your fears and just going for it…this year, as editor-in-chief with Michelle, it’s a different experience. It’s less on the interviewing people side now; it’s about how we keep a team motivated and productive as a whole, and I think that’s also taught me a lot about leadership.”
With course registrations just around the corner, students with free elective space have a lot to consider.
“I know that I’m taking leadership, which I’m really looking forward to,” Bella Jiang (11) says. “I’m thinking about taking Journalism because I love writing and talking to others. I think it’s great for connecting better with our school community.”
For students with similar interests, Journalism can serve as a catalyst for growth and provide relief in a busy schedule. The class period’s relaxed structure means occasional potlucks, easy conversation, and a flexible agenda. If you’re interested, all of us at the Eagle Era welcome you to join our class for the next school year!