MISSOULA — Many reporters and writers will tell you they got their start at the school paper. But how do you do a paper in a pandemic -- and how do you connect with classmates you may never see?
We went to Sentinel High School to get the scoop.
Bella Hoke writes about sex trafficking, Mara White writes about classic rock, Brinley Stack penned a piece on a popular video game and Rowan Lucas explored the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The young reporters aren’t afraid to dig into the hard stuff and they recently published the year’s first issue of the re-branded school paper, the Sentinel Scoop. It's now exclusively online through a site called Flipsnack.
"I feel it can reach more people if it is digital so that's a plus,” Hoke said.
"We're not strictly just a journalism class, it's really hands-on publications. So, it's like real-life work skills in the making," explained Kelly Bathje, who is the advisor for this Publications Class which merges journalism and the digital arts.
The online format means more eyeballs on the articles and immortality on the internet. These young reporters are documenting an extraordinary moment in history -- from the COVID-19 pandemic to the election of a president. What they write will be read by future Spartans -- and their voices matter.
"We're the future of voting and politics and stuff like that,” Stack said.
"We're very engaged with this election,” Lucas added. “We're planning on writing a lot of pieces on what's going to happen with the election"
"Some people just block us out, like our opinions, our voices are irrelevant,” White told MTN News. “But some actually take us into consideration and hear us out, which I really appreciate."
It's a time-honored tradition presented on a new platform -- the voices of a generation in extraordinary times. But maybe the real scoop is that this digital school paper is connecting an entire school community that’s been dissected by disease.
"Having a student voice, especially in the hybrid model that we seem to be in a holding pattern with, and teachers don't get to see the kids every day,” Bathje said.
“It's a rough situation all around so I think having one platform, a centralized platform where you can see what kids are thinking and how our staff is trying to reach out and get feedback from the student body is critical,” she concluded.
The next step in the process is to get some sponsors and sell ad space. That will allow the Scoop to upgrade its on-line platform, allowing more pages and the ability for readers to download the issue.
Anyone interested in helping out this new venture can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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