By Allison Eastep
I, along with other TCHS’s journalism students, had the opportunity to attend A&M’s High School Communications Workshop this past July 21st to the 23rd. The workshop is to help newspaper and yearbook students learn how to design, market, and create an overall better publication. Classes were taught by nearly 30 journalists, teachers, and yearbook professionals from across the nation. TCHS journalism teacher Jennifer Kunard brought a record thirteen students to camp this year to plan next year’s edition of the Sting City Press and the 2017-18 yearbook, but more than that, to create stronger team dynamics. “The most valuable part of going was not just learning skills and being critiqued, but I also wanted my students to get to know each other and hopefully bond. It’s important to have a cohesive staff so that we can hit the ground running on the first day of school,” Kunard said.
Though I attended nearly a dozen classes, the one I, along with my fellow newspaper staff, kept coming back to was David Knight’s feature and columns class. It was no doubt a powerhouse of inspiration, as Knight, with more energy and passion than most could wish to have, poured himself in his selection of articles ranging from the chronicles of a high school cheerleader to an exposé on dealing with a sibling with cancer. No matter what the article was, Knight had two universal truths – great writers tell the truth, and great writers are not judgmental. Though this may seem obvious, this workshop packaged this information in a more valuable way than simply reading lists of ‘Great Writing Tips’ on Wikihow. As Knight would say, sometimes it’s better to show than to tell.
Yearbook students attended mostly designed-related classes and learned new ways to market their yearbook. But as Kunard said, most saw the greatest value in the team building aspects. Getting to know your classmates before tensions grow as deadlines approach can help in the long run.
“This weekend at camp I’ve learned, along with the rest of our staff, that teamwork and cooperation is the very first step in creating a yearbook or any publication. My favorite parts were always the late nights staying up with my team, getting to know them all and bouncing ideas around for our next book,” Talia Funkhouser, junior and yearbook member for three years said. ?