Co-editors Megan Russ, left, Samantha Sieren, and Kelly Kilpatrick sort through extra issues of the student-run newspaper, The Somethin'. It was first published at Perrysburg High School in 1922.
This Friday will be a tough one for Perrysburg High School senior Kelly Kilpatrick, and it's not just that high school is coming to an end. It also will be the last run for an almost century-old Perrysburg High School tradition.
The Somethin', the school's student-run newspaper first published in 1922, will be passed out Friday by students for likely the last time.
"I will cry," Miss Kilpatrick said. "This is, like, our life."
The paper's forced hiatus isn't from lack of administrative support, Principal Michael Short said. He likes the feel of a newspaper in his hands and has family members in the business. There just wasn't enough student interest to warrant the cost. Students now choose other activities and steer away from courses that put an emphasis on intensive writing or reading.
"I'd like those skills to be taught to these kids," Mr. Short said. "But we are at the mercy to a certain extent to the interest level of the kids."
School staff members haven't ruled out bringing the paper back if student interest suddenly spikes. But, for now, the Somethin' will have nothing to say.
The high school has offered journalism classes as an elective; students in the classes learn the craft and publish the paper, under the guidance of teacher Ben Fry. Only a half dozen signed up for next year, not enough to fill a class.
Much of the heavy lifting at the paper in recent years has been done by a now-graduating trio of editors: Miss Kilpatrick, who is co-editor-in-chief along with Megan Russ, and business-and-layout editor Samantha Sieren, all 18 years old.
The group spent countless hours in class and after school writing stories, laying out pages, and hunting down advertisers. They loved it, they said.
Staff members choose extra issues of the Somethin' for keepsakes. According to lore, the newspaper got its name almost a century ago when a student said that they had to name it 'somethin'.'
But while the staff members lament the paper's demise, they also said they weren't surprised.
"I saw it coming," Mr. Fry said. "Society told us it was coming."
The problem, the Somethin' staffers said, is much the same for high school newspapers as it is for daily metro editions: the Internet.
"If something happens in the high school, it's on Facebook or Twitter," Miss Kilpatrick said.
Take a recent lunchroom food fight that evolved into fisticuffs, Miss Russ said. Word of the fight had spread everywhere within minutes through social-media networks and quickly made its way to traditional sources. The student paper, published eight or nine times a year, can't keep up with that pace.
Reader interest in the Somethin' waned, Mr. Fry said. Copies would be found in the trash, not in the teachers' lounge.
The paper and its related journalism classes also faced stiff competition from courses students find more engaging.
Putting out a student paper is hard work, and the paper's editors said their peers seem to have little affinity toward the written word. Mr. Fry has trouble getting students in the British literature classes he also teaches to read the classics.
It's an unfortunate end to a paper with such history. Current staff say the paper got its name 90 years ago through an inability to settle on a title; a frustrated student finally said they had "to name it somethin'!"
The paper, which was first printed in a newspaper-style format, then switched to magazine style before returning to a newspaper broadsheet, has been printed by an outside company.
The paper's closure is also somewhat unusual, said Logan Aimone, executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association, a student-press organization based at the University of Minnesota.
While high school papers face struggles in engagement, few are outright closing, he said. Instead, journalism programs have shifted online or to combined classes with yearbook staffs.
"It's sad to hear about a paper with a 90-year tradition closing," Mr. Aimone said.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6086.
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