When I was in high school I was the cartoonist on my school newspaper. Able to put together a political cartoon, capable of a decent caricature, I avoided tasks like writing, editing, and actual reporting by possessing enough artistic skill to swoop in the night before the deadline and sketch something with a touch of wit that could fill my quarter of the editorial page.
I’m a high school principal now, a lifetime removed from that smirking fellow from the North Salem High School Clarion. I still have a place in my heart for student journalism, particularly the political cartoonists, those kindred spirits chipping away at the cracks in bureaucracy. To the young Oliphants and Trudeaus of the world, I tip my sharpie and say “sketch on!”
Today I opened up San Dieguito High School Academy’s student newspaper, The Mustang, and saw that a fantastic student artist had done just that. …of me!
What I loved most about the cartoon was that it took on a current issue with wit and good technical skill, provided information and opinion, and did it all in half page of newsprint.
Student voice is tremendously important, and it finds a home in the pages of The Mustang alongside well written and researched journalism. Students learning the craft of research and writing, interviews and editing, meeting deadlines and reaching an audience are learning skills that transcend journalism. Students finding their own voices and presenting their thoughts clearly and well are preparing themselves for life beyond high school.
At this school, however, student journalism looks just a little different.
Unlike more conventional papers, The Mustang is wrapped in a colorful student painting, filled with a melange of recipes, fitness tips, students spotlights, and fine art. It even integrates a clever “San Dieguito Sentinel” section for cheekier commentary on school events. Students at San Dieguito High School Academy learn real world skills while still “keeping SDA funky.”
I dig the fact that the students are pushing forward the discussion of important issues: bathrooms, parking, and state testing. I love that I can also see a feature on local hikes, a piece on street art in Encinitas, and the records of our sports teams. I see, when I read The Mustang, a bright future for the students who work on the paper, though, truth be told… as I pick up the copy in my office, my eyes return to the well constructed drawing on page four. Unlike my avatar in the lower corner of the cartoon, this principal is smiling!