As we approach the final two months of the school year, students will meet with their counselors to finalize their schedules, partially in hopes of exploring new interests through their electives. There are a multitude of reasons, some of which we will present in this editorial, why we, as an editorial board, encourage students to enroll in the journalism program.
For one, the diverse curriculum of the journalism program provides students with the opportunity to express their creativity through various forms of media. Whether they enjoy taking action photos of a sport, making cooking videos to experiment with new recipes, or featuring members of the BHUSD community with fascinating stories, students are not limited to one specific field. As a staff member, you are given complete imaginative freedom to explore different avenues of content, such as podcasts, photography, features, yearbook design, reviews and videos, to name a few. Students of the program are also given the opportunity to share their opinions on a plethora of issues and to use their platforms to have their voices heard by all.
The journalism program encourages students to represent all groups within BHUSD, specifically high school students. In order to do this, student journalists must explore the campus and various activities within it. From theater, to sports, to robotics, to clubs, students have the opportunity to meet peers who they potentially would not have crossed paths with otherwise. In this way, journalism students create their own access and connections to different communities within the district. With these connections students also expose themselves to new interests and new friends. As journalism students become closer with people they probably would have never met, they create stronger bonds with their new friends and are able to tell stories from a more personal standpoint. This allows them to create an increasingly open space for underrepresented communities to feel seen and heard on campus.
Another perk that students will experience is that being a part of the journalism program will inherently help them improve their writing skills, which can not only benefit them as a reporter, but also as an English student. With many lessons on different styles of writing, constant practice and the process of reviewing edits, they are bound to develop new, strong writing habits that will help them outside of journalism as well. Students may find that these are not only beneficial in the classroom, as they can also help when working on college application essays, for example.
The journalism program gives students real-world experience by teaching them valuable professional skills such as how to effectively collaborate, communicate and lead with teams.
Both the newspaper and yearbook run on deadlines, which expose students to managing expectations and time along with working together to produce news pieces and yearbook spreads, which, in turn, help students share their ideas with one another and increase their productivity.
Seeing as both the Highlights news website and Watchtower yearbook are student-run publications, students have many opportunities to lead the programs through editorial positions. Although editors complete a lot of editing, which enhances their detail-oriented capabilities, editors must also teach the new students proper journalistic etiquette, design skills, interviewing and problem-solving skills. These leadership activities of teaching, communicating and problem solving are what people must learn to do every day at their own jobs.
In this new age of technology and social media, students operate all social media accounts for their respective publications. While Highlights uses social media to keep the Beverly Hills community informed about various events and breaking news, Watchtower gears the use of social media toward marketing the yearbook as a product. These various purposes of the publications’ social media accounts expose students to how organizations and businesses effectively update and stay in touch with their target audiences.
The journalism program definitely is completely different from any other entity you could join on campus, and our biannual field trips are yet another thing that prove that. Once a semester, journalism students have the option to attend the Journalism Education Association (JEA) National High School Journalism Convention.
In recent years, students visited San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, and Anaheim to attend conventions. Flying cross-country with your closest friends, missing a few days of school and exploring a new city? It’s a wonderful experience. At these field trips, students attend sessions on topics of their choice, strengthening any journalistic ability they want and sharpening their skills at various media competitions. At the competitions, students compete with peers from around the world and have their work judged by an expert panel. Not to brag, but every time Beverly was represented at a convention, we won multiple awards for both the yearbook and the newspaper, as well as awards for individual students. Students have tons of freedom to get a feel for their host city, whether it’s trying a new restaurant or taking a walk near the hotel.
All in all, these school-sponsored conventions are an added bonus to the already amazing journalism program. Not only do students get an opportunity to grow as journalists and to explore new cities, but it also allows them to further strengthen their bonds and get to know one another even better. In addition, the program opens so many doors to students, handing out opportunities to attend summer programs and events outside the constraints of school. The Washington Journalism and Media Conference is a week-long immersive summer program for student journalists all across the country. Two members of the Editorial Board attended this program, and both came back with fantastic memories and a well-rounded look into journalism and politics. Other programs, like the exclusive and selective School of the New York Times, attended by one editor on staff, allow students to focus on specific topics within the sphere of journalism. Both opportunities were made available to those students because of the connections they made within the journalism program.
Over the years, the members of the BHHS journalism program, both past and present, have grown and cultivated a very tight-knit community. This is arguably one of the most amazing aspects of being a part of the journalism program, as students are provided with a strong support network that not only assists them in their growth as journalists, but also in their growth as individuals. By the end of their tenure in the BHHS journalism program, many students leave with new lifelong friends and amazing bonds that have dramatically enhanced their high school experience.
This familial environment is unequivocally a testament to the culture that journalism adviser Gaby Doyle has created and nurtured, with the help of other members of the journalism program—past and present. She genuinely cares about each and every one of her students, and pushes them to become the best versions of themselves possible, and not just as journalists. She is the glue that holds the program together, and without her, this special community would simply not exist.
The Beverly Media Group Editorial Board highly encourages all students at Beverly, including incoming freshmen, to consider enrolling in the journalism program, as we believe it will provide them with countless opportunities and priceless experiences that will contribute to their growth both in and out of the classroom.