HSJ Headline News
Journalism alive and well at Lincoln High School
The Valley Breeze
May 9, 2012
LINCOLN - While their peers worry about due dates, the students in Doreen Picozzi's three journalism classes focus on deadlines.
Whether they are the bubbly and charismatic broadcast hopefuls, or the noticeably more quiet and studied print enthusiasts, the students are committed to producing news consumed by the hundreds of students at Lincoln High School.
The program, officially named The Journalism Broadcasting Academy, has been growing steadily over the past decade, as the enrollment in the classes has grown from 14 to 63 students.Existing Introduction to Journalism, Advanced Journalism, and Broadcast Journalism classes will be joined next year by Topics in Journalism.
The former one-column newspaper The Lion's Roar that used to cost 50 cents per copy is now a free publication that averages 12 to 16 pages per monthly issue, and is in its first year with an online presence at lionsroartoday.webs.com .
And a former English classroom is now a television studio, complete with a green-screen backdrop, three studio cameras on tripods, lights, and technical equipment that allows producers to control the feed. The daily Student Council announcements and news stories are shown in 60 classrooms, where flat-screen televisions are mounted in a corner.
The charge is led by certified journalism educator Picozzi, a former newspaper writer and press secretary for Buddy Cianci, who has received accolades for her work with the school. Alicia Kroszner, who has taught Introduction to Journalism in the past, will teach the course next year, as well.
Picozzi started teaching 10 years ago at age 45, but took over the journalism program in 2005.
The broadcast program started in 2007, when LHS teamed up with students at Bryant University, Picozzi said, thanks to funding from Perkins grants for buses and a couple of small cameras.
"We worked on stories that connected the schools," she said, like a segment called "Lions to Bulldogs" that followed LHS graduates through to the college.
The school was outfitted with its own studio, in Picozzi's old classroom, in May 2010, after being awarded a $100,000 Champlin grant in 2009. Approximately $60,000 from the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act has enabled the class to get 20 small Flip cameras, as well as necessary software, textbooks and technical equipment.
This year, the class has interviewed young veterans - the oldest is 25 - about coming of age in the military.
The Lion's Roar has equally gripping stories, and awards to back them up.
Last week, the class attended the New England Scholastic Press Association Spring Conference at Boston University. The paper won the Highest Achievement Award in the newspaper category, class I.
Art student Casey Parker is the photographer for the paper, and walked away with three Special Achievement awards for her photos, as well as recognition for her work in the broadcast program.
The paper is led by editors-in-chief and juniors Henry Sales, who was awarded the Quill and Scroll award this year, and Melissa Sorkin, who handles the layout of the paper, and won Special Achievement in the Feature Page Design category at the NESPA conference.
"All my life, I've always watched the news. I like to be involved in current events," Sales said, explaining that he is learning about varying writing styles and techniques through editing his peers' articles.
The March issue has articles about weight-loss surgery, teen pregnancy, the dangers of tanning, and an in-depth analysis of war throughout the years.
The April issue promises coverage of the LHS Variety Show and the school's 10 teachers who will retire this year, as well as pieces on Syria and student loan debt.
The students in the Advanced Journalism class are staff writers, and work from Introduction to Journalism students is also considered.
Some say the classes have inspired them to pursue careers in journalism, but even the students who have different interests say they learned valuable lessons nonetheless, mostly about writing and being organized.
"I love this class. It's definitely inspired me to do broadcast and communications in college," said junior Anne Carroll. "I've learned that communicating with people is really important in this society, and that the way you communicate with someone can show two sides of a story."
Sophomore sports editor Giovanni Gray said while he already knew he was interested in journalism, being a part of the paper "ignites more of a passion."
Junior Andrew Lemos, who focuses on writing political pieces, said he has improved his writing, and said he did "extremely well" on the writing portion of the New England Common Assessment Placement, or NECAP, test because of this class.
The Lion's Roar online editor Mahesh Vasudevan said being a part of the publication helped him adjust to being in a new school after he transferred this year.
The students give Picozzi the credit for the program's success.
"She knows a lot, and she's open to trying new things," said junior Kristen Giarrusso, who was working on editing a video package about teen depression.
Sorkin said it is a privilege to work with Picozzi, saying, "She's so enthusiastic about journalism and she's really interested in the students and continuing their education in journalism."
But Picozzi said the students are independent and creative, and they drive the content on their own.
"We have such a good team here," she said. "It's the best and the brightest, the most dedicated and the most creative. I have the privilege of meeting the school's most astounding talent."