Fall semester comes to a close

With Christmas fast approaching and finals done (though not all yet graded), it means the first semester has come to a close. Of late I’ve only been posting to this site for the purposes homework, but I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the semester as a whole.

It has been a busy semester for me. I took over duties as the National Honor Society adviser. The learning curve was steep, but despite all the stress and craziness, I was able to pull off the induction ceremony, which is the first major event NHS has each year.

I’m still the Career and Technical Education lead in the building, and I’ve been working on adapting my English III class to also become Project Management and Resource Scheduling. This is going to be a big deal for Sterling High School. It will allow us to get CTE funding for English III. When I have the plans finalized, I will be writing a follow-up post to fully explain it, but suffice it to say for now this is an exciting development.

This is a screenshot of the Issuu account for the Cub Reporter.

This is a screenshot of the Issuu account for the Cub Reporter.

However, the most exciting thing about this semester is the debut of a monthly newsmagazine produced by my journalism students. It is called the Sterling Cub Reporter. It is awesome! The students love seeing their work produced each month, and the student body is hungry for each edition.

Adding this publication to the products produced by my student journalists was important to me. It allows the students to receive more gratification for their work. The yearbook is still important, but with that product they can only see their work once a year. With the Cub Reporter, they get to see their work come to life eight times throughout the year (we publish it October through May). This is vital because if they make a mistake or want to try something new, they can. They don’t have just one shot like they do with the yearbook.

Sure, sometimes the issues have a bunch of errors (spelling and grammar and whatnot), and I would love for each of them to be error free. However, the students are publishing their homework for the world to see. Mistakes are bound to be made just like in any assignment. The difference is, these students are brave enough to put themselves out there, and I believe that makes them all awesome. Critics can say what they will, but they need to keep in mind these students are doing something no other students are willing to do. They are rock stars in my book.

To go along with the Cub Reporter, we have also launched a student-produced, news website. It is www.sterlingstudentpublications.com. The website is still a work in progress (hopefully I will be able to get it redesigned over the holiday break). The students are required to post to it each week. This has to be done will also keeping on top of their newsmagazine deadlines. It is a lot to ask of them, but for the most part they are handling it well. I believe they are learning valuable time-management skills.

This year I also started teaching a new class. Marketing. So far the primary focus of the class has been to sell ads for the newsmagazine and the yearbook. The proceeds from which go toward covering print costs of both publications. The class has done well! They covered all costs associated with the magazine, and they reached our goal of 10 pages sold for the yearbook. As both of these publications do not receive any funding through the school, their efforts in ad sales are invaluable. The yearbook still hasn’t covered all its costs, but the ad sales have helped. Hopefully our other fundraising initiatives will cover the remainder.

Of course, all the ad sales work would have been for nothing if not for the local businesses who have supported us. I simply cannot thank them enough!

Looking ahead to next semester, most of my classes will be continuing on along the same trajectories. The one difference will be with my freshman journalism class. The first semester is Media and Public Relations where they learn how the media works and how to be savvy media consumers. The second semester will be A/V Production Fundamentals. There they will be learning how to make quality multimedia products. These could include podcasts, news broadcasts and movies. I am toying with an idea to really take this class to the next level. I’m excited about the possibilities, but I still need to fully explore the options before I take the class in that direction.

Overall, I feel the semester has gone well. My journalism students have taken part in a lot of great conferences, and as an executive board member of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association, I have been working on helping align some of our offerings with their national counterparts.

I hope you all have a great Christmas break! Hopefully you are on Santa’s nice list and get to spend as much time as possible with family, friends, and loved ones. Have a great holiday!

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