Upper School journalism students from The Bear Creek School are preparing for the WJEA (Washington Journalism Education Association) state conference on March 14, where they’ll test their skills in a “Write-Off.” They’ll listen to speakers or panels on a variety of topics, participate in short question-and-answer sessions and have 70 minutes to write/rewrite their stories of no more than 350 words.
Judges will evaluate the content and accuracy of their material, as well as grammar, spelling, punctuation and adherence to AP (Associated Press) style.
This exercise in newswriting will be a little different than the usual process these students follow, while putting together each issue of Bear Creek Current.
The publication has more of a magazine format than a traditional newspaper and focuses on themes which reflect the private Christian school’s “Christian world view.”
As an example, the October issue, “Soul to Sole” focused on individualism and what each person can contribute to the community at The Bear Creek School or the community at large.
“We wanted to find people who had special skills that weren’t noticed,” said assistant editor Georgina Wadhwani-Napp, an eleventh grader.
“As a private school with uniforms, all we can pick is our shoes. You’ll see girls or guys with individual styles,” explained staff member Adelaide Tillinghast, a sophomore.
Journalism teacher Kristen Sanger noted, “We wanted to highlight the differences — we’re not all the same.”
Throughout that issue of Current, photos of the staff members’ and interview subjects’ shoes appeared with the stories behind the people and their passionate interests.
As well, there were features about the history of shoes, reflexology and “walking a mile in other people’s shoes” — getting to really know them before ever judging them.
In deference to their school mission, “We definitely have to consider topics we write about and how it reflects how our school is seen,” Wadhwani-Napp admitted. “It’s solid journalism, but also respectful.”
Tillinghast agreed, “We have to be careful about topics, a lot of sensitive topics. Our mock election issue (in November) was the first one where we struggled with all the ideas.”
The Bear Creek students acknowledged that they don’t have as much freedom to express themselves as their counterparts in public schools, but a sign in their classroom offers a reminder, “Journalism doesn’t tell you what to think. It tells you what to think about.”
Sanger expounded a bit on that: “Our motives are not to get people mad or reactive. The motives are to get people talking.”
Upcoming issues of Bear Creek Current will revolve around “Pop Culture,” “Being Yourself” and profiles of the graduating seniors.