by Cadence Gutman, staff writer
DECEMBER 2021 – The Hive, Bio-Med Science Academy’s student-run newspaper, features monthly articles about current events and important information. Student-run means that the staff is comprised of students who make the decisions, choose article topics, write the articles, and run the newspaper website. Although there is a class adviser, Jenna Bates, the eleventh grade English Language Arts teacher, she is only involved in the editing, brainstorming, and grading process. She also takes certain opportunities to teach The Hive reporters writing and journalism skills. The Hive strives to provide students an opportunity to not only learn journalism principles and techniques, but also to freely express themselves. Students also learn about the rights and responsibilities of public expression in a democratic society.
The Hive was officially founded in 2019, however, the idea for a student newspaper at Bio-Med goes back to 2018, when Bates and several students came together to create a newspaper club, which had a total of nine staff members. “The first year of the newspaper was rough, only publishing two maybe three times,” said Bates. “Deadlines were not being met.”
By 2020, the newspaper club was converted into an elective class with a grade attached. “It created accountability among the students,” said Bates. During the 2020 to 2021 school year, The Hive had a total of seven writers and one photographer. Five out of the eight students were attending school virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Articles were published six times — once a month from October to May, taking a break in December.
Senior Havann Brown, editor-in-chief of The Hive, recalled her experience last year when she first joined the staff. “In the beginning, I did not know what to expect, but I loved every second of the time I spent in Newspaper,” she said. “It was a great environment to be in because we had our own tight-knit community of people connecting over writing and the desire to spread the news. There may have only been a few of us, but as a staff, I think we did an amazing job.”
Alyssa Cocchiola, an associate editor of The Hive and a junior, said, “Even when there were just four people sitting in a classroom last year, it was the absolute highlight of my day. It was still a productive thing to do, but it felt like a break from my classes, even though I was technically taking on more work. Not only was I given the opportunity to write and talk to people, but we would all just talk and have conversations with each other,” she continued. “The overall community in Newspaper was different from a typical classroom setting, because it was smaller and everyone bonded over writing. Cocchiola concluded, saying “Overall, Newspaper has helped me with writing, social skills, editing, photography, and so much more.”
Every year, Ms. Bates invites new students to join The Hive staff. Students are typically recommended by their English teachers. During the scheduling period for classes Bates will email the eighth through tenth grade English Language Arts teachers for recommendations for students they think would be a good fit for Newspaper. However, due to the increase of students in Newspaper, it’s likely that The Hive will only take freshman recommendations next year.
The Hive currently has 15 writers, including two associate editors and an editor-in-chief. The Hive publishes twice a month and is expected to publish from August to May. The publishing process takes place over the course of a month. First, the writer gathers information and writes the article until the first draft deadline, which is about a week and a half before publication. Articles are passed back and forth among the editors and reporters, often several times, until they are deemed ready. Edits, comments, and suggestions are then made to the article. Grammatical and structure errors are corrected and edited by the original reporter. The adviser takes one last look at the mechanics and style of an article, and then the editor-in-chief decides if the article is ready to be published.
Picking a topic for an article is based on two primary criteria: relevance and the topic’s connection to Bio-Med. The idea of a newspaper article is to keep the reader up-to-date on current events during the time of publication. In addition, being a Bio-Med newspaper means that most of the articles published should have a connection to the students, staff, or school community. When the article information relates to something the readers are interested in, it keeps people reading and provides parents, guardians, and family members with information about Bio-Med’s events and student activities.
Articles can range from light hearted topics and teacher spotlights to more serious topics, all depending on the writer and what’s going on in the world at the time. Often writers will pick a topic that interests them. When writers struggle to find a topic to write about, the newspaper staff brainstorms as a group to come up with an idea. At the beginning of the 2021- 2022 school year, the current newspaper staff had a group meeting to discuss article topics for the future. The staff maintains an evolving list of topics that can be chosen from or used as article inspiration.
Many students enjoy their experience in Newspaper and can see the outcome of the effort they have put into improving themselves as writers. Students who joined Newspaper were already capable writers but hoped to improve. “My ability to plan out my writing has been drastically improved. With practice, I feel more confident starting a piece and I actually know what grammar is. I often think, after I do something, that if Ms. Bates would be inspired to teach a lesson about it, I should probably stop.” said Mallory Butcher, a sophomore and reporter for The Hive.
“Being a part of the Hive is probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I look back at my previous articles, and it’s crazy how much I’ve improved as a writer. The tight-knit community of the newspaper staff and process of interviewing students for articles has broadened my social horizons beyond what I ever thought was possible. I love being an associate editor, and I can’t wait to see how our little newspaper will continue to expand,” said McKenna Burchett, a junior and associate editor of The Hive.