New Journalism Class at GDA

This year, GDA offered an all new journalism class that students can take during the last hour of the school day known as the “arts hour.” Joining the lineup of band, orchestra, choir, photography, art, and drama, journalism is the only one that qualifies as a “practical art.” According to the Missouri Department of Education, students must earn at least one of their required 24 units of high school credit in coursework designed to provide life skills or to contribute to a student’s career goals. Practical arts courses help students learn to integrate academic knowledge with career and technical knowledge and apply them to authentic situations. With that in mind, the journalism class has tackled some very authentic projects. 

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Before working as student-journalists, it was important for the whole class to learn about laws that protect the rights of journalists. The first quarter of school students read about the first amendment, focusing on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Next, they read about laws that protect the rights of citizens by learning about journalism ethics. Finally, students learned a whole new style of writing called Associated Press (AP) style by routinely reading a locally produced newspaper (Springfield Daily Citizen) and adapted the AP style guidebook to create a GDA-specific modified AP style. With all of this foundational work complete, students were then ready to apply this knowledge to tackle some big projects.  

The first project the class took on was the creation of a student newspaper, GDA Today, which is published twice a month and available as both a physical printout and a digital file posted to the school’s website. GDA Today is a newspaper planned, written, designed, and published by upper-grade students for upper-grade students. As it turns out, a majority of our 35-person staff this year are students in 7th and 8th grade, but we also rely on the wisdom and experience of a handful of 9th-11th graders, and although the intended audience is upper-grade students, lower-grade activities are also still of interest, too. The staff is divided into nine content areas each with a student-editor acting as its leader. Students who are not department editors are considered staff writers and contribute to different departments by assignment. GDA Today’s nine content areas are features, sports & activities, house points, lower grades, building & fundraising updates, fine & practical arts, columns & opinions, creative corner, and the ever-popular “fun stuff.” Students also chose to include a list of faculty and staff birthdays as well as a poignant Bible verse at the top of each edition. A lot of planning goes into each newspaper, and it’s easy to see the hearts behind this group project each time it goes to print. Student journalists are the only ones who are able to deliver this kind of insight into their daily lives.  

The second project journalism students have adopted is participation in a local writing contest held by the Language Arts Department of Southwest Missouri (known as the LAD Fair). Journalism students have chosen to enter pieces from 80 different categories, some of which include journalism articles, poetry, nonfiction, and fiction writing. Although the fair itself won’t take place until April 29, students have been writing and turning in their entries over the past several weeks. They have also extended the invitation to non-journalism students to enter the LAD Fair along with them.  

The third project the journalism class has taken on is the school’s first ever student designed yearbook. In the past, our school yearbook has been lovingly put together by staff members, but this year the torch has been passed to the journalism class. The 2022-2023 yearbook will be bigger this year with a total of 80 pages, which is about 20 more than last year’s book. The soft-cover yearbook sells for $25, but for an extra $6 families can opt for a hardcover version. With more than just a lineup of headshots (though it will contain the traditional class pages), the yearbook will include approximately 20 extra pages of school activities coverage as well as expanded and personalized senior pages. Also new this year, all yearbook orders will include two free custom pages that only print in your yearbook similar to a digital scrapbook. More custom pages can be added for $1 for every two additional pages. Extra pages are basically unlimited and can serve as your own school year scrapbook. Families who want to utilize the free custom pages or add on additional pages must complete their designs by April 7. Just to reiterate, the customizable pages are FREE but do require a little bit of planning ahead! Yearbooks are on sale now. Even though the last day to order a yearbook with custom pages is April 7, families still have until April 17 to order a yearbook with free shipping (but without custom pages). Books ordered by April 17 will be delivered to the school on May 1 and distributed to students. After April 17, families can still order the yearbook without custom pages but will have to pay the cost of shipping to their home.  

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As you can see, the all-new journalism class has provided some very hands-on real-world experience for our students — practical indeed!  

Purchase your yearbook today and start building your free customizable pages!