The writers of the Ketchikan High School student newspaper, The Kayhi Current, are ready for a new school year, and expect minimal changes to arise due to the modified manner in which schools are operating while facing the ongoing pandemic.
The Daily News spoke with two Kayhi writers, seniors Erin Shea and Henry Clark, about their experiences working on the newspaper and their expectations of reporting during the new academic year.
The 2020-21 school year is Shea's second as a writer for The Kayhi Current, the publication tied to journalism teacher Jeff Lund's class, which is offered to juniors and seniors at the school, Shea explained.
"I love journalism," Shea said. "And it's really hard to learn at first, but then once I got a hold of it, I love it because it gives me so much freedom to write about anything you really want to," Shea commented, speaking by phone during a short break from classes on Tuesday.
Lund's journalism class of about 20 juniors and seniors — all writers on The Kayhi Current — offers a crash course in different styles of writing for publication, Shea said.
"We've learned how to write news, we learned how to interview people and we learn how to write columns and we learn how to write features," Shea recalled. "So, we learn about all aspects of journalism and writing."
Shea writes features, often themed around holidays like Halloween or Thanksgiving, as well as columns covering current school events.
No changes to the publication itself — which is published online on a rolling basis — are expected due to the ongoing pandemic, which forced modifications to some school procedures this year.
However, the new procedures are not going unreported by the students.
"For articles, there's lots to write about," Shea said. "Like the new protocols and stuff this school year."
"I think it's a really good way for all of Kayhi to really get the information, new news about different things coming out with different protocols and stuff," Shea elaborated.
Shea noted that interviews now will have to be conducted in a masked, socially distant manner, and most likely will need to be scheduled far in advance.
According to Shea, The Kayhi Current is instrumental to the spread of school information.
"I think it's important for all the students to kind of get into the habit of newspapers and just to learn more about their school, things going on in their school and news all around the school," Shea expressed.
Newcomer Henry Clark agreed that students benefit from reading The Kayhi Current, adding that it offers insider information to students.
"I think it's important because it shows the paper and the press to the students, but it's made by the students," Clark said. "A lot of times we read things in the newspaper that are about students or about Kayhi, but it's from an outer perspective. They're not students at Kayhi — they might have interviewed people — but they're not, like, in Kayhi, so it always feels like a little disconnected, where I think reading a lot of these articles by other students about Kayhi or even just about anything, it feels like the students can relate more to the other students that they're writing for."
Clark is fresh to the publication, having landed a spot in Lund's journalism class for the first time this year, despite wanting to take the class last year.
Originally, Clark wanted to take the class because to engage in what he had heard was a class which deals heavily in critical thinking skills, as opposed to "just learning the standardization of English."
"My first impression of starting journalism was that it was going to be a fun class and it was going to be a lot of work, but it wasn't like a standard English class," he said, reflecting on his first week at the paper. "There wasn't any busy work, there wasn't any assignments or paperwork. It was just like actually doing what a real journalist would do, or at least as much as you can do in a school."
In his first week of writing, Clark has started to pursue a feature story about a school staff member and has written several columns that have not yet been published. Clark remarked that he is excited to share the drafts with Lund.
Clark agreed with Shea that the only expected change to the publication during the new academic year was the way in which reporters conduct interviews – masked, and from a distance.
While unsure if he wants to pursue a career in journalism after his final year of high school, Clark says the experience will prove helpful when it comes to communicating with reporters in the future.
"Now I actually know what it's like to be the journalist in the situation, instead of just being the person interviewed," Clark explained.