The Communicator

The Communicator

The Communicator

Journalists Head to Boston

The Communicator travels to Boston for the biannual NSPA journalism conference.
Daniel Ging

The plane touches down in Boston right on schedule. Excited murmuring and laughter echo down the aisle as 21 CHS journalists disembark, eager to make their way to the Back Bay area for the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Conference (NHSJC). Thanks to a quick pace set by Tracy Anderson, the journalism advisor, and the help of a few moving walkways, the group made it to their stop just as the bus pulled alongside the curb. Sighs of relief as students caught their breath were quickly silenced when the doors opened to reveal that the bus was already close to bursting at the seams.

“They were packed in there like sardines,” said Morgan McClease, social media editor. “There was no way we were going to make it on.”

As the students exchanged concerned glances and worried about astronomical Uber charges, Anderson came to the rescue. Flagging down another — and significantly emptier — bus, she herded the students on. Some were dubious of the solution as the bus pulled away from the airport, seeming to head in the completely wrong direction. They took that bus all the way to the end of the line, where they boarded the metro. After transferring lines underneath the streets of Boston, they were finally en route to the hotel.

Despite the deviation from the plan, and a perilous trek along a busy road on a single-file sidewalk (which might be more aptly described as a curb), the group arrived at their hotel. From there, through the efforts of the chaperones, the trip went off without a hitch. The three chaperones were Tracy Anderson, CHS Journalism advisor; Judith DeWoskin, former CHS teacher; and Cody Harrell, a Journalism and English teacher at East Lansing High School.

The conference opened with a keynote address from the Spotlight team, a group of journalists from the Boston Globe who were responsible for uncovering systemic child abuse and its cover-up within the Catholic church. The story had so much impact that a biographical movie covering their investigation, called “Spotlight,” was released in 2015.

Once the conference had kicked off, the group spent the next few days attending small sessions alongside over 2,000 student journalists and advisors from across the country. Sessions covered topics from story-telling to design trends.

“It was really interesting to break down how you get successful journalists in your program,” said Lucia Page Sander, social media editor, about a session focused on staff retention. “And how you keep them on that grind and pumping out articles.”

Along with providing opportunities to develop individual skills, the conference also offered an important part of developing publications as a whole: critiques. Print Editors, Web Editors and Social Media Editors all benefited from the feedback of other advisors on their respective publications.

Critiques aren’t always available for social media branches, so the social media editors were grateful for an outside perspective.

“[The advisor] had a lot of good things to say,” McClease said. “Even the bad things that she said we agreed with, so it was nice to have the validation of another perspective.”

Not all their time was spent in the conference hall; Moments of free time were used to

explore Boston. On Wednesday night, they explored Harvard Square, indulging in milkshakes, pizza and pastries, then attended a performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Central Square Theater, which was met with mixed reviews. The following day, they walked a section of the Freedom Trail, meandered through the Boston Public Garden and bought highly-anticipated lobster rolls at Faneuil Hall.

Even after the sun had set over the Charles River, the fun didn’t stop. The group made the most of every moment together, whether that was crowding into one hotel room for chip-and-dip-and-movie nights, heading down to the pool for a riotous game of Marco Polo, filling baskets with grapes at the market across the street or pulling on coats to window-shop along Newbury Street. The after-hours activities allowed the

staff to get to know each other better, and form bonds.

“We really are always just looking out for each other,” said Clara Freeth, social media editor. “Coming out of this trip I feel like we’re all so much closer as a group, and I’m just so excited to make more memories with Room 300.”

The students left Boston with new memories, new friendships, and, thanks to Anderson, fast-passes through security.

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About the Contributor
Serena O'Brien, Print Editor-in-Chief
This is Serena's third year of journalism, and her second year as a Print Editor-in-Chief. She loves to be outside, whether that's running, hiking, biking, swimming, or just lazing around in the sun. Work takes precedent though, so you're more likely to find her writing, editing, doing copious amounts of math homework, or taking a break to play her mobile game of the week. She is beyond excited for another year in Room 300!

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