Building A-TECH’s Newspaper, Part 1

Advanced Technologies Academy, Nevada’s #1 High School (photo by Daniel Lang)

Building an online presence is hard. Building an open forum for students, managed by students, with the goal of representing our school in the format of an online school newspaper is even harder.

At Advanced Technologies Academy, that was the challenge that Ms. Stern’s journalism class faced. This class was composed of all sorts of students:

  • Freshmen wanting to actually learn journalism (with no idea how)
  • Sophomores still not adapted to A-TECH
  • Juniors who had no clue why they were in the class (e.g. me)
  • Seniors who wanted an easy class

When I say some (me!) had no clue what was going on, I mean it. Take a look at this conversation between Editor-in-chief Johanna Guerrero and me from the summer before this school year:

We had two students who taken Journalism previously (Johanna was one of them), a new adviser in charge of a new class, and 20+ students awaiting instructions on what to do. We had no clue what to do. So we built a newspaper, starting from the very basics.

Over the course of six months, we studied the First Amendment, we built a staff manual, we went to a journalism workshop at another high school, and we started working, hard.

  • What makes a story newsworthy?
  • What is the Tinker standard?
  • What is the Hazelwood standard?
  • What is a public forum for student expression?
  • What freedoms do we have as student press?
  • How do we write an article? A feature? How do we take photos?

We studied it all! Soon, we had a cohesive team that was excited about putting forth something presentable to the world. We were excited about this prospect even though our skill level was maybe (probably) not on par with our excitement level.

We started off with a website that redirected from the school’s main website,, and this was our temporary solution while we raised funds for a site with SNOSites, which would give us the editorial tools we needed to produce a higher-quality paper. Our temporary fix was not smooth, we had problems with the servers, the website broke frequently, agh. During this time, we had fundraisers like the Journalism Jukebox and our most popular event: Clash of the Pie-tins, in which students paid for an opportunity to pie a teacher!

Raising enough funds, we finally switched our site over to SNO, and it was a big difference. This is what we look like today:

While the first semester was spent learning about how to run a newspaper, we have spent this last semester running a newspaper, learning how to interact and work with each other, adapting to our roles as leaders, editors, staff writers, photographers, researchers etc. But most important, we developed the chemistry to run a functional paper that our student body can rely on.

Here you can find the faces of the awesome people that bring you this paper with dedication and effort. Give them a pat on the back when you see them in the hallways.

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