J1, not your average English class

Alexandra Seeley, Reporter

Tucked away into a little cubby in the concrete wall lies a room, a room where ideas spread like wildfire and writing is honored with awards displayed as far as the eye can see. With the year 2015 on the brink of ending, a new bunch of wide-eyed reporters gather in former computer lab 411, trying their hands in reporting for The Lancer Spirit.

“I want to be a voice for the school and I want my writing to mean something more than a grade,” sophomore Ashley Andrews said.

Adviser Mrs. DeWinkeleer’s Journalism 1 classroom was abuzz with excitement and nervousness on the first day on the job. Not even having the time to think, students were tasked with describing the class and people taking it in a features article for the editors.

Naturally, the stress level was through the roof, but the eager new reporters readily dove into their first interviews and quotation-gathering processes in the stress-free environment of the journalism room.

With such a diverse class of students ranging in grade levels from sophomores to seniors, the new reporters had a positive energy (and cluelessness,) and seemed the only thing they shared was wanting to be heard.

Andrews said she likes the openness of the room and hopes “to write stories instead of  typical thesis papers.”

Sophomore Emma Payeur, finds the class both enjoyable and independent.

“I like this class because I like being able to voice my own opinion versus what people want to hear,” Payeur said.

Some seniors took journalism to fulfill their senior English credit, while some sophomores and juniors found that taking Journalism 1 in addition to their regular English class gives them a chance to write pieces other than just essays and research papers.

“You don’t even have to like writing to take the class,” said senior Derek Rouse, who likes to write, but mainly wants to represent his robotics team. “This class is different from other classes where if you don’t do your homework, you fail. In this class, someone else has to make up for you, and you fail. It’s good to have that peer pressure to give you more of a working experience.”

Seniors Mike Weisse and Jake Barbieri are classic examples of students taking the class for the English credit, but have found portions of the class that they have come to love.

“I read the paper last year and I found it interesting, but I especially loved the quotes by Dennis Bishop included in the paper,” Barbieri said.

Barbieri also likes the class now that he has experienced it for a couple of days. Weisse eventually wants to get a music article published because of his passion for music and the band he is in. He also likes the calm atmosphere of the class and the people.

After five years in the making, DeWinkeleer and her editors have successfully developed an online version of The Lancer Spirit, and she is glad to have new reporters in her J1 class.

“I am excited,” DeWinkeleer said. “It’s a lot of fun to watch you guys grow into ‘real’ journalists as the year progresses.”

She hopes that the online newspaper is where people will go to get information, and she looks forward to seeing her students’ writing improve drastically since they will be able to write every day and get published more often online.

“I may have helped kill the newspaper, but journalism will not die,” DeWinkeleer said.