It started with a student’s desire for the voices of her peers to be heard.
And now, since 2018’s fall semester, a group of student journalists at Bolivar High School have plugged away articles for their newspaper, The Lib-Times, writing stories about school functions, sports, student life and more.
Two students from The Lib-Times, editor Mia Montgomery and reporter AnnMarie Heffernan, shared their school newspaper experience thus far with the BH-FP.
The paper, sponsored by BHS German teacher Kim Trobisch — or “Frau,” as she’s known by her German students — was formed in the fall of 2018, Montgomery explained, after a few years of BHS not having a school newspaper.
Montgomery’s motivation for starting the newspaper stretches back to an experience she witnessed earlier in high school.
She said in her sophomore year, students became mad “because the football team got new uniforms — and of course, the art wing never got anything, but the football team got uniforms,” Montgomery said.
She explained some students were upset about that situation, but didn’t have an official outlet.
With that, Montgomery figured a school newspaper would “probably get student voices out there and actually have them listen to us … or just inform people on what’s happening,” she said.
In the newsroom
Montgomery, as The Lib-Times editor, said her work for the paper involves writing editorials and looking over other students’ writing before they publish articles.
The organization works “like a hierarchy,” Heffernan said.
Montgomery explained there are three or four categories of writing — sports, miscellaneous, school life and entertainment — and there’s “a bunch of reporters underneath them.”
The paper typically plans stories through brainstorming sessions at the group’s after-school meetings in Trobisch’s classroom, which is “like a newsroom,” Montgomery said.
“We try to focus more on the entertainment and, like, school life stuff more than sports, because sports gets more coverage,” Heffernan explained, “and (Montgomery’s) idea with starting the newspaper was to be a more, like, creative outlet for the unseen.”
Heffernan said she wants to report on anything, but last year, she focused on writing advice columns and “student spotlight” articles.
She said she participates with the newspaper because she likes to write. The newspaper is a way for her to do that, she said.
She said a favorite article she’s written so far has been a student spotlight piece about BHS student Tanner White.
“That was definitely fun to interview him,” she said, laughing.
Sometimes, their avenues for finding stories can be creative.
“What we wanted to do was get a box where we could actually have students, like, put questions and advice stuff in,” Heffernan said, explaining her advice column, “but I kind of just made them up last year.”
Montgomery added one reporter would find friends after class and corner them about doing stories.
“We had a couple of people who would go out and do, like, sports things,” Montgomery said, explaining some of the paper’s scope. “I think they would go to the games and write as they were there.”
But since the paper is still new to the hallways, there have been hiccups.
Montgomery said she had no trouble getting the paper started, but it was hard to keep students going to the meetings and to get the paper rolling “because we didn’t have a basis.”
“We don’t even have a journalism class anymore because Mr. Jones left,” she said, referring to longtime teacher Randy Jones, who retired recently. “So we don’t have a foundation or anything. Just scratch.”
In addition, Trobisch added, a lot of students are also involved in other after school activities.
Another issue for the paper so far is funding, Montgomery said.
Montgomery noted the paper is published online because they can’t print their publication on physical paper.
“The principal offered to print our first paper, but we had a problem with formatting and how to actually get it to print,” she said.
The students agreed, however, that having the paper in print would help cement their presence in school.
Heffernan noted without physical copies, it’s hard to garner the impact they’re creating. Montgomery added the paper is “maybe just sort of a shadow in the background — the school newspaper right now — it’s not really present yet.”
But Heffernan had different thoughts on that notion.
“I don’t think it’s really happened in the background,” she said. “Us members, it’s kind of been like, just uniting to the people involved — not necessarily the whole school, but to the few who are involved in it. That’s really the only impact we’ve had, unfortunately.”
Regarding the paper’s future, Montgomery pointed to a copy of the BH-FP lying on a nearby table and noted, “This would be nice — paper copies.”
“To get out there,” Heffernan added.
And in regard to their own futures beyond the halls of BHS, Montgomery said she plans to be a journalist. Recently, she attended a journalism camp over the summer.
Heffernan, on the other hand, plans to be a secondary education English teacher, she said.
The Lib-Times can be accessed at thelibtimes.wixsite.com/newsfeed.
And their next possible big story? Figuring out the ins and outs of recycling at BHS — where do recycled papers go beyond their designated bins?