Extra! Extra! Read all about high school newspapers

Students write the stories that are fit to print

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Empowering experiences, expressing opinions, learning about a range of topics and understanding how to work collaboratively and independently are all part of working on school newspapers, students and faculty advisers said.

The Herald spent time with seven of these publications to find out what’s beyond the printed or online pages.

Hewlett Spectrum, Hewlett High School

“It prepares teenagers for any profession,” Eliana Berger, 16, of Hewlett, said, of how working with the Spectrum staff builds confidence, promotes teamwork and improves writing skills. She is a junior assistant entertainment editor who will be the entertainment editor next year.

The Hewlett Spectrum publishes six issues per year. “It’s a way to express our opinions,” Senior Janna Bickoff, 17, co-After Hours editor with Lindsay Cohn, said of her newspaper experience. She has been involved since her freshmen year as a writer for the After Hours section, which covers the high school’s extra curricular activities.

“The feeling you have when you see something through from start to finish — there’s nothing like it,” said sports editor Mychael Schnell. A senior, she has been involved since freshman year and plans to study journalism in college.

The work they have done has been rewarded. The Spectrum took home first place for General Excellence in the 2016 Better Newspaper Contest run by the New York Press Association. Spectrum staff won five Quill Awards at Adelphi University’s annual Press Day: Second place for Best Newspaper; third place for Best Editorial; second place for Most Outstanding Reporter — Samantha Stern; Schnell won honorable mention for Best Sports Story; and Cohn place second for Best Feature.

In the high school journalism contest held by LIU Post’s communications department, the Spectrum captured first place in the Best High School Newspaper category and Stern’s article, “EgyptAir Flight 804 Disappears,” won third place in the Best News Story category. Stern writes the Herald’s Hewlett Happenings column.

“It’s so amazing to see the things that they put together,” Rosemarie Scalfani, an English teacher and faculty adviser, said. Rick Royals, a math teacher at the high school, is also a faculty advisor for the Spectrum. Scalfani emphasized the independent nature of the students’ work and how well they collaborate.

To view the Spectrum online go to http://www.hewlett-woodmere.net/Page/6561.

Mental Pabulum, Lawrence High School

Lawrence High School’s Mental Pabulum has been around since the 1930s. This school year, there are 10 staff members and about five freelance writers, as well as students who may be asked to write about a specific field trip or unique viewpoint, said the paper’s faculty adviser, Paul Vega.

Senior Emma Balsam, 17, from Woodmere, is a co-editor-in-chief of the paper. She has been involved since she was a sophomore. Balsam said she likes covering current events and learning about a range of topics as she conducts research for her stories. Balsam added that she has learned the value of teamwork to successfully assemble the paper.

“Due to the rise of broadcast journalism, social media, and online newspapers, many kids don't use physical newspapers for their news source anymore,” said Balsam, who also writes the Lawrence Lately column for the Herald. She stressed the importance of student newspapers, and said she enjoys reading her classmates’ interpretations on school and news events. “Personally, I like the feel of a real newspaper in my hand.”

Vega explained that a new issue of the paper usually comes out every month, however during midterms, finals, regents or Advanced Placement exams, studying takes precedence over the paper. The students create the entire paper, he said, and he handles advertising and publishing. “It's important for students to get involved with something whether it is the newspaper or otherwise,” he said, “It helps quieter kids come out of their shell and make friends.”

To view the Mental Pabulum online visit bit.ly/2mNrV6v.

The Tattler, HAFTR

The official student newspaper of the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway for about the past 30 years is The Tattler. It has been published online since 2012.

Nearly 50 staffers — freshmen to seniors — are involved. Writers contribute roughly one 200- to 500-word article per month, and are broken into two different groups: one with a deadline in the middle of the month and the other with a deadline at the end of the month, faculty adviser Samantha Accurso, who is also a special education teacher at HAFTR High School, said.

Students work independently to produce their stories, which are then submitted to the copy editors, Moshe Weiner and Rachel Sacks, who then send it along to Accurso for review. HAFTR’s General Studies Principal Naomi Lippman also edits the stories and forwards them to the student editors-in-chief, Jack Eisenberg and Maia Schlussel, to make final corrections before placing them online. Schlussel wrote the Herald’s HAFTR Highlights column last school year.

“The newspaper allows them to delve into real life topics and events in practical ways,” Accurso said. “I think it’s important for everyone to express their interests.”

Schlussel, a senior, said the paper is in the process of transitioning to the next editors: Amanda Schorr and Max Elefant. The 18-year-old Lawrence resident has been involved with The Tattler since 10th grade. She said she likes to write editorials, school news and articles about interesting people. “Newspapers train students to form an opinion based off of research done and not to make snap decisions,” she responded, when asked why she thinks newspapers are important.

The Tattler won Quill Awards for Best Online Newspaper in 2013 (first place), and second place in 2014 and 2015 at Adelphi University’s annual Press Day. Schorr won third place for Most Outstanding Reporter this year. She writes the HAFTR Highlights column this school year.

To read The Tattler visit www.haftrtattler.com.

DRS Star, Davis Renov Stahler Yeshiva High School for Boys

Under the direction of faculty advisor Julie Foster, the DRS Star is published bimonthly. “It’s kids expressing their opinions,” Editor-in-Chief, Akiva Thalheim, 17, from Woodmere said, of his goal for the paper. He pointed to an article four years ago about the need for Wi-Fi in the school. It has since been installed.

That technological advancement has not only helped the entire school, but allows the editors to communicate and work as a team to edit and organize the stories for each issue using Google Drive. First established in 2013, the Star was printed in color for the first time this school year.

Junior Sruli Fruchter will serve as co-editor-in-chief next year with Josh Samet. Both are 16 and from Woodmere. “What really inspired me at first was that it was open to my voice,” Fruchter said, referring to what he called an empowering experience writing his first article for the paper about Israel being a victim of media bias.

About 25 columnists and reporters contribute to the paper, in addition to eight section editors, for nearly 400 student readers. “The motto is exactly what it represents — ‘Written by the students for the students,’” Samet said.

To view the students’ work go to drsstar.weebly.com.

The Looking Glass, Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls

Roughly 20 students at Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls in Hewlett Bay Park contribute to the production of The Looking Glass, the school’s newspaper.

“It creates an exciting school culture,” Shalva Muschel, the faculty advisor, said. Muschel teaches 10th, 11th and 12th grade English, and was involved in both her high school and college papers. She said one purpose of a newspaper is for writers to “experience communicating through the written word,” adding that it fosters a sense of empowerment.

Co-Editor-in Chiefs Shoshana Reichman and Elisheva Greenberg, and layout editor Danielle Greenfield lead the paper’s staff. The team communicates through Google Docs to edit and share information. Issues of the paper are often published around Jewish holidays and feature a recipe section.

Greenberg, 17, from Woodmere said she loves the idea of having a student-produced newspaper. “It is so fulfilling to put so much effort and energy into something so special,” she said. “The satisfaction after seeing the newspaper once it is published is unbelievable.”

“A newspaper is a perfect vehicle for students to express creativity,” Reichman, 16, said. The junior from Woodmere said she has always loved writing and particularly enjoys covering world news.

The Looking Glass is only available in print at this time.

The Shalhevet Flame, Midreshet Shalhevet

The weekly publication at this North Woodmere school for girls originally began with faculty writers and has existed since the school opened nine years ago. A few years ago, it transitioned to student writers and is now produced by about 15 to 20 students. They are assigned articles on a rotating basis, and can also claim stories based on their individual interests.

“As with most schools, the primary function of the newsletter is to keep parents informed of all the interesting happenings at school,” Shani Seewald, director of communications at Midreshet Shalhevet, said. “It is also a great writing outlet for our avid writers, photographers, as well as the student editor of the newsletter.” Senior Natalie Mosseri serves as the current student editor.

To view the weekly newsletters go to midreshetshalhevet.org/newsletter.

The Founders, Shulamith High School for Girls

Eight students in the two-year-old high school that only has a ninth and 10th grade this year are working on the first edition of Shulamith High’s The Founders, Jamille Mosseri, the paper’s faculty advisor, said. 

“It sounds a little silly, but I really wanted to be a “newsie” — I love the Broadway show ‘Newsies!’” Rivka Bennun, editor-in-chief, said. Bennun, 14, of Cedarhurst, said that she has learned about editing and responsibility through her experience with the paper. The freshman that loves writing about school activities receives all the articles and is responsible for reviewing them.

Mosseri holds a master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School, and worked for two years as a full-time journalist including at Law 360, a legal news service. For the first issue, students reported on school happenings and Passover traditions. They are planning to publish in print and online.

Mosseri said she wants students to be excited about school events and develop their writing skills. “This allows us to do both in an exciting way,” she said.