Newspaper production planning of Kennedy High School’s Cougar Crier started long before the school year began in September.
The club has been operating in a nearly all-remote capacity since July, with staffers communicating through online platforms and videoconferencing software.
“Since we had been out of school for so many months, we wanted to deliver our first issue in early September,” explained Dr. Dennis Urban, who is the club’s co-adviser. “We want the school paper to have a central role in the school community, and we set that tone early in the school year with our first issue.”
Dr. Urban, along with co-adviser Brad Seidman, participated in journalism workshops during the summer and delved right into guiding the club’s editing and layout processes. They also re-designed the paper’s layout and logo.
“We did our homework, reading and researching student journalism and providing a lot of resources to the students,” Urban added.
The Crier is constantly expanding its platform and finding innovative ways to serve the school and community.
“We send out news alerts to students on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter,” explained said Jake Arlia, the Crier’s editor-in-chief. “We have conducted interviews with administrators and established lines of communication with local businesses and politicians.”
They also held an Instagram live interview with the school’s principal, Gerard Owenburg.
Older students also have the opportunity to mentor newer newspaper staff members. Arlia said this is his “favorite part of having this position in the club.”
“Giving feedback to the younger students and suggesting ways to improve their writing are also rewarding parts of the process for me. I have become a better writer and a better leader because of my role in the club.”
Each issue, which will either be bimonthly or quarterly, starts off with a full staff meeting involving a roundtable sharing topics and features to tackle.
“Every staff member is assigned at least one task, whether that be writing an article, designing a graphic, or helping with the layout of the paper,” added Arlia, who is also the Class of 2021’s valedictorian.
The Crier also welcomes "contributors" — non-members who wish to write pieces.
For Arlia, a passion for creative writing prompted him to join the newspaper club early on.
“Being a member of the newspaper club has allowed me to explore my interests and improve my writing skills,” Arlia said. “Seeing my work published and printed is a very fulfilling accomplishment.”
Andrew Soel, a junior and the paper’s managing editor, said that he and fellow students have embraced the significant changes this school year has brought on.
“We’re working with our staff to ensure an amazing product can get into the hands of every student,” he explained. “One of our physical education instructors, coach Brian DeGaetano has used our paper in an assignment for his classes.”