50 years of Kamiakin’s history erased

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50 years of Kamiakin’s history erased

Emily McKinnon, Opinion Editor

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Kamiakin High School’s journalism class may be erased after 50 years of news and history. There are drawers full of printed newspapers that have come from previous generations of Kamiakin students. Out of all that work,  the program is about to dissolve.

The Tomatalk newspaper began in 1970 when the school was opened. It continued into the 1990s when it first declined. Teacher Alan Bacon was the adviser then. In 2003, a group of students wanted to revive the Tomatalk, and headed by student Jared Moran, the paper was revived in 2003 with teacher Laurie Bender taking the helm as the adviser. For quite a few years after that, the program remained strong. Every year, there were at least 20 students enrolled in the class. One year, there was even two classes.

Then, changes began to happen. It seemed that less students read the paper. Less students signed up for the class. For the last five years, Bender said that the program has seen a decline in enrollment. This year, 12 students originally signed up. The Friday before school began, Bender was told that the class would be combined with her yearbook class because of budget issues. This caused all the underclassmen to drop out, and it left only seniors. Underclassmen are essential to keeping this class alive. Also, nobody was informed of the period change until that same first day of school which seemed a bit odd. Bender believes that journalism is still relevant and a good, beneficial class to keep at Kamiakin. “I think there is value in having this class because you learn teamwork, a variety of computer skills, design, opinion, feature, review writing, and other skills for related jobs.”  She also added, “Who wouldn’t want a school newspaper? Its been happening since 1970, and it’s just going away.”

Because of different factors, Bender and principal Chris Chelin met, and now the journalism class will cease to exist as of second semester. Sadly the seven remaining students will be dropped and will have to find other classes. When asked about this turn of events, Chelin declined to speak to me about it alone.

English teacher Emily Griffin, when asked about how she felt about journalism class being canceled called it unfortunate. Asked about the benefits of the class, she said she saw it first-hand as a high school student here. “Yes. I had a really good friend in high school. She was the editor of the Tomatalk when we were in high school, and she loved it.”

It is sad to think that a class that has been loved by so many is just waiting to be forgotten. Bender said she recently received a text from a former student, Sam Perrins, who asked how journalism is going. Attending school in Utah now, Perrins said he has fond memories of the class. In fact, it encouraged him so much that he is now thinking of joining the newspaper at his college. He said in the text, “You taught me a lot of skills that I will forever use, and I thank you so much for that.”

I know that when I first came to Kamiakin, I was in a way shocked when I heard we had a school newspaper because it is heavily under-supported and represented. Our school does not take the time to represent anything except for sports and AP classes. That then causes everything else to go unrecognized and as you are seeing right now, how easily it can disappear within a blink of an eye.

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