At the end of my sophomore year, I checked off an important box during course registration: Newspaper Workshop. This class became not only my capstone but an educational journalistic experience where I was able to learn and grow. My journey from an academic writer to a journalist has been one full of twists and turns that I can now look back on with insight!
With published issues going as far back as the 1940s, The Comet is a student-run newspaper at EHHS. In recent years, it has transitioned online to this site. The Comet throughout the years has gone forth as a club and courses, which are most recently named Journalism and Newspaper Workshop . Currently each semester, students publish up to five articles. In addition to articles, there are numerous side projects that are posted including comics, sports, and advice columns.
At EHHS, a capstone course is structured to allow students to be accountable for their own learning. Through this process, they can work independently alongside guidance from a teacher or mentor. Learning to adapt to an independent study course was a hard task at first. I had to get used to the demands of my capstone requirements and my weekly deadlines. After each article, I worked on my annotated portfolio with annotated copies of my articles and created journal entries reflecting on my work. Finding the balance between my responsibilities and learning was difficult to manage at first. Alongside myself, other students have faced the same struggles. According to Gianna Appi, an EHHS senior, “Sometimes it would feel overwhelming. I would feel like my articles wouldn’t be the best it could be because I would have other capstone assignments I’d need to complete.” Although the process was daunting at first, learning to adapt to struggles and overcome them is part of the capstone process. Prioritizing work, reflecting back on decisions, and even the deadlines are all practice for real life!
In addition, the staff writers at The Comet were put to the test when online schooling became the new way of learning. Transferring a fairly in-school process online was a struggle for everyone. At the end, students conducted their usual capstone presentation in a screencast rather than live in front of a panel.
During this semester, I have found my place at The Comet as a staff writer. Becoming a writer overnight was not as scary of a task as it is made out to be. The routine of my work made it easier to manage and more enjoyable for me! To start off the process, staff writers and editors join together to pitch our stories in a group discussion. Working together as a team can help improve your ideas and allow you to gain useful feedback. Angelina Esposito, an EHHS senior who took Newspaper Workshop as her Capstone this year, says, “I had trouble coming up with what to write in all honesty, but having the rest of the team there helped me brainstorm a little better. The discussions really are a big help when it comes to what to write in my opinion because it helps expand on ideas you already have.”
From the discussion, the research and interview process starts. Looking to create your questions and find sources to interview. Interviews are a great way to broaden your horizons and learn important social skills. The occasional bad interview is nothing compared to the long-term skills you are gaining.
By the time I gather all my information, it's time to start writing. It takes getting used to and the ability to have an open mind for suggestions. The one thing I would emphasize more than anything is to use your resources! Talk to your editors, your advisor, or go online to work through the writer’s block you face!
At the end of it all, I have been able to grow and learn in more ways than I can count. For anyone out there who is interested or waiting for their semester, you get out of it what you put in. According to Angelina, “I feel like if you are truly serious about taking the course, then it’s definitely manageable. It is what you make it to be, if you don’t care too much then you won’t give it the time needed to make your work great, but if you care then you find the time.”
Looking towards the future and after online schooling, The Comet is looking to expand out of the classroom and possibly into an after-school extracurricular! It is yet another great opportunity for students to learn at their own time. This experience has been unlike any other for myself and allowed me to truly gain an insightful look into the world of journalism!