SPRING MILLS, W.Va. — School hasn’t even started yet, but Spring Mills High English teacher Brooke Jozik and her journalism students have voluntarily spent the past week working ahead and making plans – for everything from newspaper stories to yearbook layouts.
They’ve been getting an early start – the approximately 15 students usually begin about 9 a.m. – and continue until late afternoon, never complaining about giving up part of their last summer vacation days, she said.
“This is just a great group. They care so much and because of that we’ve already got a lot accomplished. The yearbook students came last week to meet with our Jostens representative, working with a professional graphic designer and seeing the applications that made our ideas come to life. We’ve already come up with a theme, and the cover is all designed too. We really want our yearbook to be high energy this year and it will be,” Jozik said confidently, smiling proudly as she watched her students sharing ideas about taking a picture for a newspaper story.
Junior yearbook student Ashlyn Martin, who serves as its manager, said she enjoys laying out pages and seeing how it all comes together.
“When the year is over, I like to see the whole book put together,” she said.
Students have also planned their first fundraiser, a Sept. 13 car wash that should help them purchase needed items including video equipment and cameras.
And while they may lack some professional experience, it’s clear they are passionate about making their mark as journalists, Jozik said.
That’s why she invited area journalism professionals into her classroom, speakers who’ve helped the students get real hands-on experience about news writing, sports photography, conducting interviews, editing techniques, using social media and even how to generate story ideas.
This week students from all three journalism classes – newspaper, yearbook and broadcasting – came together Monday for an etiquette and professionalism workshop (including eye contact, handshakes and proper introductions), Jozik said.
“We also did a kind of scavenger hunt through the building so they will know the main offices and people they’ll need while doing stories,” she said, adding that students also began to decide coverage beats.
On Tuesday, Pat Murphy and Josh Triggs not only brought their photographic equipment, but also taught students about lighting, shutter speed and portrait photography as well as taking them to a school football team practice.
That was a favorite activity for 10th-grade newspaper student Dylan Thomas, who said he’s most interested in graphic design and sports (especially how the Cardinals’ football team will fare this fall).
Thursday and today, The Journal newspaper staffers – including regional editor Dave Emke, city editor Paul Long, sports editor Rick Kozlowski, weekend editor Jamie West and sports reporter Jessica Manuel – are working with students about honing interviewing, writing, composition and layout skills.
But it’s a two-way street, with students also sharing their perspective and knowledge too.
Both West and Kozlowski said they had learned something during their visit Thursday – each wanted to know more about an interesting iPhone app they’d heard about from senior Courtney Tomes, who is in the broadcast class and recently started a Facebook page devoted to preventing suicide.
Senior Erica Sprecher, editor of The Bird’s Eye View, excitedly showed visitors copies of last year’s newspapers and pointed out special stories contained in the seven editions – including her feature on the new school’s inaugural Veterans Day assembly, which attracted about 150 military men and women.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day, but this is a great way to remember it,” she said.
And during a mock interview, 11th-grader Shepherd Snyder surprised everyone with his response when asked to tell a little about himself.
“I’m a demigod. That means I’m not yet god, I’m a spiritual being who is superior to everyone around me,” he said.
Other students who participated Thursday were Erin Slonaker, Danielle “Nikki” Schlapo, Elizabeth Baker and Ashley Boothe.