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More in News
Students get a taste of a life of news
NEWS MAKERS — OHCHS journalism students pose in front of their clippings from the Advertiser Democrat. The students have been publishing stories in the paper for the past year as part of their journalism class, taught by Pamela Chodosh. From left, Meredith Potter, Desiree Dunn, Daniel Costanzi and Ariel Garber.
OXFORD HILLS — For the past year, four area high school students have had a unique opportunity to present their schoolwork to the Oxford Hills community in the pages of the Advertiser Democrat.
Daniel Costanzi, Ariel Garber, Meredith Potter and Desiree Dunn have been publishing articles in the newspaper as part of their journalism class, taught by Pamela Chodosh.
The class has given students a chance to take on the role of a professional journalist. They have learned how to conduct interviews, cover events, meet deadlines and most importantly, sharpen their writing skills.
The pay-off for all their hard work was the gratification of seeing their stories in print. Some stories were even splashed across the front page.
Chodosh says the fact that her students have been writing articles that are actually getting published is very helpful.
OHCHS does not have a school newspaper and Chodosh thinks that being able to publish in an actual newspaper is very promising.
"They've learned so much," says Chodosh. "They've been really excited to see their articles in print, and I've seen a huge growth from the beginning."
She says that being held responsible for deadlines is particularly important for the students.
"I think anytime students can have the opportunity to have real consequences and real obligations is excellent for them because truly, that's what you have to know to succeed in the world," Chodosh says.
The students agree that seeing their articles in the newspaper gave them a pretty good feeling.
"People who didn't even know I was in the journalism class came up to me and said 'hey, you were in the newspaper,'" says Costanzi.
Costanzi, a graduating senior, has written articles on Occupy Oxford Hills, military enrollment at OHCHS and a number of profiles of people at the school. He says that the class helped him with his writing techniques.
"Before this year I had no idea what a comma-splice was," says Costanzi. "I was apparently committing this treason every time I tried to write."
Garber, a junior, says that she appreciated the class because it gave her a chance to go in-depth into a single issue.
Garber wrote a three-part series on school lunches that ran on the front page of the Advertiser Democrat.
"My favorite thing about journalism is getting a chance to learn people's stories and listen to them," she says.
The public exposure her stories received was a new experience for Garber, and she says that while she thinks it was positive, she's only now becoming comfortable with it.
Dunn, a sophomore, says that she has always preferred writing fiction, but the journalism class showed her another way to tell stories.
"I realized that this is writing," Dunn says. "It doesn't have to be made up."
Meredith Potter, a junior, says that she appreciated the opportunity to show off her work in the newspaper.
"It's cool knowing that I'm not just writing an essay in class," says Potter. "It's actually going out there in the world."
Potter covered many OHCHS events, and she now has personal experience with the sometimes controversial nature of the journalism field.
She says that her review of the OHCHS production of Damn Yankees provoked a minor uproar at the school after one of the vocalists in the play took issue with what she had written.
"I put something in there she didn't like, and they put it all over Facebook," she says.
"It's still kind of intimidating for someone to look at your work and be like, 'this is what's wrong with it' and even if you think it's not, it still kind of digs at you," Potter says.
The criticism hasn't caused Potter to shy away from pursuing a career in the news. She says that she wants to become a news anchor, but would like to continue writing on the side.
Still, Potter says, the experience showed her that reporting isn't as straightforward as she thought.
"Before we got into this class I thought that all you did was figure out a few facts then write it up," she says. "It's a lot harder than that."
The other students aren't sure they'll pursue a journalism career – the class has given them a brief look at what it takes to be a professional reporter, and they don't like what they see.
"A real career in journalism would be mind-numbing," says Costanzi. "It would be incredibly busy."
The students say that deadline pressure and hectic schedules make them think twice about working for a newspaper.
"Doing it as a professional career, it would be too much for me, personally," says Garber.
"I think it's very impressive, what journalists do."