PERRY TWP. Students at Central Catholic High School have launched what they believe to be the first digital K-12 school newspaper in the Stark County.
The editorial and writing group of students marked a major milestone by putting the 70-year newspaper online for students, staff, alumni and the community to read. Since its digital launch on Dec. 18, the site has recorded 2,800 views.
Krisite Cramer, director of marketing and alumni at Central Catholic, said that the while the decades-old newspaper has gone through many changes and the writing and editorial staff has come and gone, she said two things have remained the same.
"The newspaper has had name changes along with the school name and the look of the paper has evolved over time, but the writing talents of our students has remained a constant as has the student body’s willingness to share stories most relevant to them," Cramer said.
She added the goal of the newspaper is create a publication with content written and produced by students for students. With the digital version, stories and information can be updated more regularly than with the printed version.
The newspaper, called "The Crusader Comet," went digital on a new website at http://crusadercomet.org. The digital version offers many feature stories, school announcements, photos, a comments section, a need to know section, the school’s hot lunch menu, a list of service opportunities and much more.
There are five editors this year and 16 writers. Feature story topics come from academics, sports, arts and entertainment, drama, happenings at CCHS, speech and debate and student life.
The editors are Grace Bentzel, Julianna Colant, Katie Flickinger, Ethan Hancock and Stacy Ketchum. Hancock works with the layout and updating the website, he also writes and edits stories.
"In addition to the writing staff, all of the five editors write and edit stories," Ethan said. "The print version is still in circulation but in a two-page, summary style publication. The focus of the newspaper is to inform the student population of what’s happening at the school. The digital version is updated every couple of days versus producing a quarterly print version."
"Another focus of having a digital version is that it helps get students more involved and encourages them to send us story ideas," Colant added.
The editorial team meets regularly to brainstorm ideas and to assign stories to writers. All of the editors and writing staff work on a deadline schedule. New articles are published at least once a month. The writers submit to the editors who then send all fact-checked and edited articles to Hancock to upload to the website. He designs websites professionally and has donated additional time and the host site for the digital version.
All of the editors want to go on to college with at least one student going for journalism. The others have a range of plans from digital media marketing, literary editor to becoming a veterinarian. They all believe the writing and editing experiences from working on the newspaper will benefit them in any career path they follow.
Ketchum does most of the editing for the sports articles and said the most popular article online so far has been an article written by Bentzel about the cross-country team’s fall season.
"Another popular article over the past month has been an alumni profile," Ketchum said.
The editorial team said they want to keep the articles fair and balanced and will provide opposing viewpoints in some of the articles. They are also planning to sell advertising on the digital version and donate the revenue to the arts programs at the high school.
They are planning on writing about new staff members and want to include articles on the partnering Catholic schools in the future. All have said the experience has been a positive one and they are enjoying the work.
"This is the first website I’ve designed that has generated this much attention in such a short time," Hancock said.
"I’ve loved the writing and editing. It’s exciting to see one of my articles published. It’s also fun to see how engaged the student population has gotten," Ketchum added.
"I really like that it is digital. It’s unique for a high school newspaper to be online," said Bentzel.
Colant said the skills they have all learned are immense and they have also learned how to build a connection between the school and the community.
Cramer commented that the writing skills of the current editors and reporters is "college level" and that people in the community have commented on the quality writing of the articles. The community is invited to read the student’s efforts at https://crusadercomet.org/.