School begins this coming Wednesday, and every year at the start of both newspaper and yearbook there is a sense of excitement and energy that is fun to see and experience. The goal for all staff members, I suppose, is to help one another maintain and build upon that energy. It takes a team to produce a publication. We need to remember that we share the same goal, and to reach that goal we will need one another. So here's to a successful, fun year -- during which we tell the stories that make Rustlers unique.
As a reporter and editor, I know all too well, the dedication it takes to produce quality writing and content for a publication. No, it is not easy. It takes time. And it requires one to be able to focus for solid periods of time on topics, photos and design. This is becoming an increasingly difficult task for many students -- although they seem able to concentrate on texting or other phone-related tasks for quite long periods of time. One of my main goals as we all move forward in this first semester is to help students prioritize their assignments, homework in other classes, home and family obligations and activities with friends. Time management and dedication -- both necessary life skills.
What a great way to end Free Speech Week at CMR by welcoming University of Montana School of Journalism Dean Larry Abramson to room 326! Abramson is in his second year of leading the School of Journalism. He and his wife moved to Missoula following a decades-long career with National Public Radio. It was great to spend two hours with him as he worked with the newspaper staff on interviewing skills. He focused on the importance of good, quality interviews. The staff will see him again in April when we visit UM for High School Journalism Day.
Free Speech Week (FSW) is a national event that recognizes free speech and press in the United States. According to its organizers, “the goal of Free Speech Week is to raise public awareness of the importance of free speech in our democracy – and to celebrate that freedom.”
One of my main goals as a journalism teacher is to develop in my students a desire to express themselves, and there is no better time than the annual Free Speech Week. When students truly understand that the freedom of speech guaranteed to Americans in the First Amendment does not simply mean they can say whatever they want wherever they want, they learn to use that freedom. It takes courage to stand behind one's opinions, to sign one's name to what one writes and to claim those opinions as one's own. I have always respected students who are brave enough to really dig deep into topics and form an opinion. Take the time this week -- of all weeks -- to share your opinion and speak up for what you believe.
One of the best things that CMR's journalism students get to do is tell the stories of the people, events and highlights of this high school. There are thousands of stories to be told, and throughout the year student writers and photographers have the privilege of being invited into people's lives for even a few minutes. It is the hope of editors of the yearbook, newsmagazine and online site that students and staff will share story ideas and perhaps sit down for an interview.
Although it still feels like summer, and the smoke from fires throughout the West fills the hallways of CMR, it is time to head back to class for the 2015-2016 school year. When I see the hundreds of students walking through the hallways and heading to their classes, I always hope that each and every one of them is taking advantage of the opportunities that CMR has to offer -- both academically and in its many extracurricular activities. High school will be over before you know it, and now is the time to devote yourself to growing and improving. Yes, it takes work, but anything worth achieving and having requires dedication and an attitude of success. Focus on yourself and what it is that you want. Then work toward that goal. Have a great year, Rustlers.
Although student journalists are not in class and producing publications during the summer months, it is not the time to turn one's brain off and ignore the school- and student-related news that is going on year-round. Students journalists are encouraged to take photographs, gather story ideas and keep abreast of what is happening at CMR while classes are not in session. There is much work being done by teachers, building engineers, district tech folks and the administration. Summer offers a great opportunity to take the time to dig deeper into some of the issues facing CMR. Just because students are not at school does not mean that time stands still for the 50-year-old structure. Stay curious, Rustlers.