HSJ Headline News
Students take on town's newspaper with success
Wisconsin State Journal
December 11, 2002
EMERY - Five years ago, residents in this town of 439 in southeast Hanson County nearly lost their local newspaper.
Former owner Dave Stoltz prepared to sell The Emery Enterprise in fall 1997. After the school district's failed bid to buy the paper, the city Development Corp. purchased it and forged a partnership between the high school and newspaper .
This year, that endeavor was recognized nationally for its success when Emery Public School received the National Civic Star Award for South Dakota. Last month, Emery's newspaper effort was rated in the top 10 of 160 projects nationwide.
School officials and the newspaper staff couldn't be prouder.
"Our community-school relationship is an example in its finest form," Emery Enterprise Editor Terry Janssen said. "This reward is poetic justice."
American Association of School Administrators and Sodexho School Services co-sponsored the inaugural award priogram, which honors community-school partnerships.
Sharon Cannon, manager of AASA member services and recognition programs in Arlington, Va., said selection committee members thought Emery's project was a great example of such collaborations.
"They thought it was such a creative idea to save a small-town newspaper by having citizens participate," Cannon said. "When they judged programs, this one came close to being a national winner."
Jean Clarke, Emery's School-to-Work program coordinator, credits an accepting local employer base with aiding the program's success.
"It has given us a lot of chances with students who had a minimal amount of skills," she said.
Most students churn out stories and lay out pages for the weekly edition of The Emery Wheel, published in the newspaper.
Some students - such as Wheel Editor Lance Catron - have toiled in The Enterprise's press room and created or sold advertisements. One student even crunched numbers as Janssen's accountant.
When students graduate from Emery, they are prepared with the fundamentals, said Jean Hamaker, journalism and yearbook adviser from Mitchell.
"It's not just writing stories, doing layout, printing, advertising," she said. "If they wanted to take advantage (of those skills), that would give them a real job."
Aside from the civic award, Emery High School garnered acclaim from the state High School Press Association for its newspaper and yearbook. Last fall, the school won the Sweepstakes Award for achieving the highest overall score and claimed second place in its class for both publications.
The school's latest award did not surprise sophomore Micah Richer.
"I know we have a real good paper," he said. "I think we deserved it."
"I thought it was neat because we are such a small school," classmate Anne Janssen added. "To beat out the big schools is great."
Students often spend Mondays and Tuesdays writing stories or columns, while Wheel Editor Lance Catron writes headlines and places stories on the pages.
"I really enjoy doing editorials," senior Michelle Richer said. "People can't stop you from saying what you think. It's another way to share life with other people."
Catron, 18, a senior, has written stories and opinion columns and scanned pictures. But as editor, enforcing deadlines with classmates can be tough.
"Once in a while, we'll have stragglers in here," Catron said. "It gets kind of annoying when I come in here at 3:45 on Tuesday and I want to get stories done."
The partnership has led to students pursuing journalism careers. Catron will major in broadcast journalism at South Dakota State University this fall.
Copyright 2002, Wisconsin State Journal. Reprinted with permission