It’s the end of the school year, and the impatience was almost palpable on the Dos Pueblos High School campus.
Noozhawk recently stopped in to visit the enterprising student journalists in The Charger Account newsroom, where they were in the midst of devouring a multicolored cookie cake brought in to celebrate one reporter’s birthday.
Amid the buzz to wrap up their final stories of the year, there’s a sense of accomplishment among the young staff.
The group of 32 students certainly has a lot to celebrate. The formerly monthly student newspaper made the decision to publish solely online at the beginning of the school year, a decision the journalists say has broadened their audience beyond the Goleta campus, as well as given them a chance to experience true deadlines and the often-frenzied pace of working news life.
Editors-in-chief Ben Sutton and Tiana Raihn were the seniors at the helm of the paper and they talked about the switch. Raihn said the monthly schedule presented a timing challenge, and finding stories that would still be fresh — and interesting — a month later was difficult.
Before, Sutton said the students barely had enough content to work on to fill the class time.
“Now that it’s online, it’s made everything better,” he said.
Students work to get stories online as soon as they happen, and the website produces an impressive lineup of news, sports and features. Noozhawk has been The Charger Account’s media sponsor and the two sites frequently share articles and collaborate on stories.
For Kierstin Brown, who will be The Charger Account’s photo and social media editor in the fall, the Internet has proven to be a vibrant home for photos and multimedia. Brown has been instrumental in providing photo content for site this year, and she said the staff has worked to create albums on Facebook, as well. The group has an active presence on Facebook, with more than 500 likes, and a growing following on Twitter.
“It’s always really fun to see someone use a picture that you shot as their profile picture,” Brown said.
Haley Peterson will be editor-in-chief in the fall, and she said she’s excited to take on more long-term projects. The students got a taste of that earlier this year when they dove into the homework debate among administrators and students, and plan to do more in the future.
Peterson also said she’s excited about expanding sections and columns, including the site’s popular “10 Questions” features, which have gotten great feedback from readers.
“I expect more from our staff this year,” she said.
Last fall, the staff was presented with a monumental challenge, Peterson said. Mastering the mechanics of running a website and keeping up with deadlines, all while learning the basics of journalism, was a trial by fire.
Malika Agrawal, who will be the managing news editor in the fall, said the editors will most likely have a summer training session on web basics for incoming staffers, so that when the school year starts, the team can hit the ground running.
Watching over it all has been adviser Bill Woodard, a former journalist himself. Woodard, who is currently filling in for Principal Shawn Carey while she’s on maternity leave, recently wrote some reflections on what the staff has achieved during the online move.
“As their first-year adviser, I couldn’t be prouder of the work these students have done throughout this year,” he said.