Often what makes school enjoyable for students are the friends they have there and the classes and teachers they like.
And the same goes for teachers. The highlight of my workday is the students and the journalism program I have led going on 25 years.
My teaching career would not be half as fulfilling without a front-row seat to the amazing work of these teenagers. If the ideal learning environment is for students to do everything on their own, then those who work for Tornado Media should be required viewing.
In addition to producing the school newspaper, students manage a website, produce a weekly video announcement show and a magazine-style TV program that airs on local television.
They inspire me with how they take charge of managing their peers, facilitating meetings, organizing monthly calendars of deadlines, laying out pages, editing articles and producing videos. Most of what I do is trust in them to do the job. And they take off.
When there is a rally, the students are there capturing it.
When there is a concert, the students are there recording it.
When there is a playoff game, the students are there covering it.
And when a student has lost his life, the students are there memorializing it.
Whether it is yearbook or photo or drama or marching band, the classes categorized as electives are mandatory for those students who take them, often the one period of their entire day where they can do something they truly enjoy.
That is why it is essential for schools and districts to support these programs. Unfortunately, as money has tightened over the years, our budget has shrunk; this year it was cut 20%. What this means is that instead of publishing eight or nine issues this year, we may have only five or six. To print even a small eight-page newspaper costs nearly $600.
Staffers try selling advertisement in the paper and on the Web, but it isn't easy and any results are not enough.
These are the types of students and programs school officials should be championing. But they require financial support.
To provide a professional work environment, these students need computers configured with up-to-date software, cameras, tripods and cordless microphones — all expensive equipment.
For the past 89 years, these student journalists/historians have chronicled the school's history. Without their contributions, such a record would be lost.
They search for stories to write about and record, such as a girl on a formerly all-boys ice hockey team, an artist exploring controversial themes about comfort women, a water polo team with a "miracle on ice"-like season, a young man who designs clothes and puts on a fashion show, an alumnus who walks the perimeter of the campus each morning as the unofficial greeter to all students and staff.
These subjects and what they do would fade away were it not for them being printed in a newspaper or videotaped for the Web.
For those of you interested in supporting journalism programs in Glendale Unified schools, there are a variety of opportunities, and I invite you to look into ways to make donations of any kind.
Please consider giving what you can to ensure journalism students continue telling the story of their schools and the story of their lives.