Shining The Spotlight On More Hardworking Teachers & Students!
Leanne Ingram has taken on a new challenge this year at Comanche High School as she and her journalism class are now publishing the school newspaper, The Smoke Signal.
When I called Leanne to see if I might come visit with her class, she told me they were way too busy to bother with me, and taking her at her word, I scrunched myself as far into the corner as I possibly could when I barged into her class one cold day. Remember, I used to be one of those busy teachers, and I know what it means to be too busy to bother with anybody and everybody, that’s for sure!
The first thing I noticed is that not a lot has changed at Comanche High School over the course of the past few decades, at least not in the artsy kinds of classes, and journalism certainly falls into that category.
Leanne Ingram talked so fast that no one except “those kinds” of kids could possibly have understood her. She had to…she had WAY too much to say to talk at the normal pace. I understood that. She had a paper to get out.
Well, actually, that was one thing that has changed. No longer is the school newspaper an actual newspaper as it was when I was the Leanne working behind a deadline. Today the paper is published online, one of the more visible signs of the 21st century.
“Okay, Cotten, tell me where you are,” barked the journalism teacher to Dillon Cotten.
“Waiting on the stats from last night’s game, the high school senior drawled.”
I had to interrupt just this once….I just could not possibly let that one pass, you understand.
“Do they magically appear or something?” I asked a little wickedly, I must admit.
Grinning that slow grin, “She sends them to me,” he explained, knowing that he had bested my sarcastic challenge.
“Hey, Rylie, shoot Talley an email asking him….and tell him you will be covering baseball, and what would be the best way to get stats from him…”
“Coach Pierce wasn’t in there,” someone else interrupted.
“Madison, you’ve got STAAR party done, right?” Ingram interrupted herself just as another teacher stuck his head in the door to tell Rylie that she needed to be in his class for something as opposed to working on her journalism.
“Hey, Madison, did you know that the softball game on Thursday got moved again?” someone called out as all fingers continued to fly over the various keyboards.
“Enna, can you have Spotlight on Mr. Beard done this week? Why don’t you go take a photo right now, maybe a headshot…”
“Did Coach Wyatt say…”
“Yes, but I never got it…”
“I wonder if he has a class right now?”
“He does! You wanna pop right down there?”
And with that I was dizzy, and I remembered why as much as I loved it, I don’t do this anymore.
And then all was quiet as all five (Riley had returned by then.) journalism students settled into their individual assignments with only occasional statements and questions, and once again I was struck by how so very, very little had changed…
There sat Madison…where once sat her dad, when I was the teacher. And there sat Dillon…where once sat his mom and his dad, when I was the teacher. And Enna…I was only teaching part time when both of her parents were in high school, but I was certainly there.
And then the bell rang, just another reminder that some things never, never change. There is still never enough time to do those major projects like get out an entire school newspaper, online or in print, without a killer amount of work, and I realized that there was no choice, I was going to have to come back another day to finish my article.
Knowing that there would be no time to visit with the students until after the paper was published, I waited until today to ask a few of the students about their role as student reporters/editors.
“Changing my classes to be a part of this journalism course has proven to have been such an awesome decision. I have never been in any class like this before, and I’ve definitely learned so much such as learning a completely new format of writing and editing.
“Journalism overall is a wonderful experience that I would suggest other students get involved in. I enjoy writing these articles; however, the most difficult part of writing an article would have to be getting high school students to give serious and “non-goofy” answers! Also, it’s kind of like a bonus for me, because I plan on attending Howard Payne University to double major in English and Education.
“I feel like even though I’m not the most talented writer, my willingness to learn and passion for the subject will help me excel along the way.” -Mallory Wirtz, reporter
“Working on this paper definitely has been a journey. I’ve gained experience in the basics of this occupation, which will become invaluable assets to me when I continue on into college to become a journalist.
“Knowing what I know now, I feel as though I would still have signed up to be an innovator of the CHS newspaper. The hectic atmosphere of the journalism class when we approach the deadline, the tight knit bonds we’ve formed with each other and, above all else, getting to write are what give me love for this class. Sure, I groan and complain from time to time when I get a story that I don’t want, but I still absolutely love every second of this class.” -Dillon Cotten, reporter
“Overall I really enjoy getting to write for the paper, but sometimes hunting people down for interviews can be frustrating. I definitely plan on taking the class again next year although it did prove to be a lot more work than I thought. However, I’m really just doing it for fun; I don’t plan on going any farther with journalism.” -Rylie McGinnis, reporter
“I love writing, and getting to write for the school newspaper is a new but fun opportunity for me to improve my writing skills. It also helps me to widen my range in writing styles and keep up with what’s going on in our school.”-Enna Carroll, reporter
“I had never thought about joining a newspaper before, but I loved being in Headline for my Journalism team and so I guess that’s where my interest sparked. The one thing about the newspaper that I hate is not everyone will cooperate with giving quotes so it makes it very hard. I have really fallen in love with our new journalism class and hope that everyone loves our paper and all the hard work we put into it.” -Kendra Gillam
“Mrs. Ingram had been talking about adding a journalism class for a while, but she figured that it would be next year before it actually happened. I am so glad, though, that the school decided to go ahead and add it this semester. It’s been really fun working on the paper, and it is also great practice for the UIL Journalism events in which several of us participate.
“One thing that I have learned from this class is that deadlines are very important. During the publication of the first edition of The Smoke Signal, we were all running around trying to get our articles done in time and it was very hectic. Since then, Mrs. Ingram gives us deadlines each week that we work very hard to meet, and it has made the paper run so much smoother. This class is also great practice because I want to major in journalism and communications in college and, hopefully, become a journalist someday.” -Madison Hagood, editor
And then Mrs. Ingram weighed in one last time.
“Our journalism program is one of the most successful programs in our school. For 7 consecutive years we have qualified for state in at least 9 different contests. That means we are the among the top 12 writers in the state since only 12 students qualify.
“We also have had journalism students awarded scholarship money for qualifying for state (One student received $14000.). Several of these students have found their passion through journalism; they have gone on to major in journalism, public relations, Ag communications, and are English teachers and professors. This was even before we started the paper this year, and now, we are only going to get better!
“When we walk in to a journalism contest, people fear us, and we have worked hard to make that happen. I just wish more people realized how great our program is and how hard our kids work.”
And to Mrs. Ingram and all of these students, Jeff and the rest of the folks at the Comanche National Bank send out a huge WAY TO GO STUDENTS!!
Of course, here at United, our thank you goes to Comanche National for making it possible for us to shine the spotlight on students and teachers who are making a positive difference on our community. It’s just one more example of a community bank giving back to its community!