Journalism Department wraps outstanding first year

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Journalism Department wraps outstanding first year

Cydnie Wadley

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No applause! No applause! Thank-You! Thank-You!

It is the first year Obama Academy has had a journalism class. It is also the first year a class has been so very successful. The journalism program produced The Eagle Online and The Eagle Monthly. The Eagle Online was named a finalist for the National Scholastic Press Association’s Pacemaker Award. Students Caley Donovan, Dynae Shaw, Don Crawford, Aziaha Robinson, Erik Rauterkus, Tobias Raether, Tessa Mastalski, Kionna Woods, Ceirra Saunders and Caz Tidrick all have articles that are nominees for the NSPA Article of the Year. I interviewed Mrs. Ludwick, Mr. Kocur, and Dr. Walters, and they all seemed to be very excited and proud of what the outcome of the on and offline newspaper has been.

Mrs. Ludwick was my first interviewee and she didn’t have anything negative to say. She said “I thought the journalism program went very well. Students that were involved seemed excited to be doing it and over time, the photos got much better.” Though it went so well, she faced minute challenges. She faced trying to find time to sort through all the pictures and finding the best one.                   For next year, she thinks a better understanding of how to work the camera and getting a better focus and flash on the camera can be an improvement. Overall, Mrs. Ludwick says, “It was a fantastic way of displaying things that happened in our school and Mr. Kocur did a tremendous job of keeping it up to date.”

Mr. Kocur, head of the journalism department is also a 10th grade English teacher, was my second interviewee. I asked Mr. Kocur how Journalism went over the year of having it, he replied saying, “It went extremely well. The 9th grade class really came through, and the 10th grade class really helped out, as well.” His thoughts on The Eagle Online were that we had certainly the best journalism program in Pittsburgh and in Western Pennsylvania.  He believes that the students were really into it and the writers were as good as others you’d find at schools where a journalism program has been in existence for years.

Challenges also came Mr. Kocur’s way. He faced the bad computers, having class time for students that incorporated only 2 or 3 times per week, and the 11th graders could not be on board. Mr. Kocur said sarcastically, “It’s like they are in their own world…like they don’t know we have a journalism program and paper.” Picture taking, covering sport events, and interviewing are areas Mr. Kocur thinks can be improved. He is most of all proud of all the students who were involved and the effort they put into working so hard. Mr. Kocur said the 9th grade as well as the middle school student body reacted very well and caught on to the process of journalism. The faculty also was very cooperative, said nice things, and Dr. Walters was very proud.

As far as the online paper goes, Kocur is looking at multi-media as a new avenue next year. “Don Crawford really got me thinking about doing reporting, photography and video reporting,” he says. “This year, we had a few video reports. Next year, you will be able to see games and concerts, and hear our reporters doing reports and commentary.”

The success of the publications was very much a team effort this year, from the student reporters, to the editors, to Mrs.Ludwick and Mrs.Opatt, who is actually the printer of the school printer

My last interviewee was the head of the school, Dr. Walters himself. I asked Dr. Walters what his impressions about the Journalism Department this year was, he replied by saying “Outstanding! They have been the beacon of identity to Obama. It has been a very strong point of this school and it has shown students are invested.” Dr. Walters feels that the school’s newspaper was good. He says, “Anything that provides positive exposure to our school is always good.”

“It showed photography, writing skills, creativity, and featured students in a way others wouldn’t see them,” says a proud Dr. Walters. Lastly, I asked Dr. Walters how he would like to see the Journalism Department evolve in terms of the newspaper; he said “The same matter they’re doing now. I’m looking forward to more and in Mr. Kocur’s hands it’ll be top quality. Parents can see a full picture of what we do in our school.”

So now you see and get a better understanding of how the Journalism class has had such a great impact on not only to students, but to faculty, too. Everyone is very proud of the outcome and wants bigger and better things for next year’s Journalism Department.

The newspaper recently won a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Pittsburgh Public Schools board of education. At the ceremony, editor Shelby Campbell, Caley Donovan, Dynae Shaw, Don Crawford and Aziaha Robinson accepted the award on behalf of the staff.

We expect more great things to come next year.

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