High school and middle school journalism classes go beyond reporting and play a large role in developing well-informed, future citizens who know how to navigate difficult topics.
In a culture that puts so much emphasis on individuality, students today have become more and more aware of themselves and how they fit into the world around them. In our corner of the world, Matthews, NC, students have an excellent outlet for self-expression in journalism in the classes offered at Carmel Christian High School and Covenant Day Middle School.
Not only do high school and middle school journalism courses give students a voice to report on what is relevant to them, they also help to inform them on what they are speaking on and how to best articulate it.
A high school class that gives an idea of what journalism entails, Carmel Christian High School has provided its second year of journalism with journalism and creative writing teacher, Jennifer Dixon, who teaches students the different aspects of journalism through the units of photojournalism, headlining, writing captions, and law and ethics. This class mirrors a real-life news organization with a student-run news website. For the 48 journalism students at Carmel Christian, there are two levels that are divided into different classes: a Journalism 1 course, for beginners, and a Journalism 2 course, for those who have already completed one year of journalism.
In the pursuit of truth, journalism keeps those in power honest. It is especially important in teaching students about the freedom of the press and that they have the constitutional right to have their voice represented.
This separation exists as a division of labor, placing 39 of the total students as writers in Journalism 1 and the remaining nine students as editors in Journalism 2. Those in Journalism 1 function under a “spiral curriculum” that continuously revisits each topic taught, each revisit becomes more in-depth during the course of the year. As well, they learn to take assignments and develop their voice in articles. Those in Journalism 2 practice more freedom in reporting for their student news. Journalism 2 is like a “life lab,” according to Dixon, where “[students] manage our website, they set the direction of the website, and do a lot of editing- they also do a lot of news writing and recording.”
“Journalism helps you gain more knowledge about the press and what's going on in today's society and how it all works,” said Journalism 1 senior at Carmel Christian, Tyler Caldwell.
An imperative part of this course is how it teaches students the critical role that journalism plays within society. In the pursuit of truth, journalism keeps those in power honest. It is especially important in teaching students about the freedom of the press and that they have the constitutional right to have their voice represented.
“The most significant thing I can teach them is that they have the power to communicate and the power to understand and the power to play a critical role in our democracy,” said Dixon.
According to second-year journalism student at Carmel Christian, Kat Uribe, Carmel Christian’s journalism class, “ is valuable to our school because we do not have any electives that help us to express ourselves- most of them are not something you can be an individual in. Finding your voice is something teenagers appreciate, we always want to express ourselves. In journalism, you have more freedom to express yourselves; it is age appropriate.”
According to Covenant Day Middle School coach, history teacher, and now journalism teacher, Zach Turner, the school’s first journalism course was started this year in the 7th grade. At present, there are four participating students. His class has focused on writing, grabbing the attention of the reader, and answering the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, how, why). As of now, his class has moved on from the basics of writing to a radio reporting unit, where they are hoping to be able to record short news reports.
As with Dixon, Turner sees the value in teaching middle schoolers journalism because it shows them, “what is actually going on.”
While teaching, Turner has noticed how his students have taken interest in current events saying that, “There are times we will be watching or reading an article and the students are blown away by some of the things going on in today’s world – good and bad.”
Although Turner’s class is less focused on the formalities of journalism, as it is at a middle school level, he finds that his students are eager to give it a try. “They don’t care about the history or the tech right now – they just want to write or read news.” The class exercises their reporting abilities by writing about current school news, such as the middle school play, retreats, and sports.
As one of the students…I can say we are lucky to have teachers here in Matthews who are willing to give students a way for students to express themselves. I can truly say that it has helped me grow both as a writer and as a person.
This course helps to both develop a student’s voice as well as equipping them with skills that they will use later on in life. The skills that are taught are applicable to interacting within a work environment, especially to those who may consider journalism as a possible career path after high school.
Dixon emphasizes, “They learn a lot of things that translate to the workplace, like collaboration, how to handle disappointment, and how to creatively solve problems.” Even at the middle school level, Turner reflects similarly that his course, “teaches working under pressure which is a skill everyone needs- no texting, no calling, you have to do it face to face for the most part. I feel like that is lacking in a lot of people today – that personal, one-on-one, look-you-in-the-eye and talk part of communicating.”
High school and middle school journalism classes go beyond reporting what people may except, like the latest results of a sports game or the student honor role- they play a large role in developing well-informed, future citizens who know how to navigate difficult topics and address them consciously.
As one of the students in Carmel Christian’s journalism class, I can say we are lucky to have teachers here in Matthews who are willing to give students a way for students to express themselves. I can truly say that it has helped me grow both as a writer and as a person.