LANCASTER – Many may agree that teenagers have a lot to say, but very few teens are provided the opportunity to publish their opinions through an online newspaper – while earning class credit at the same time.
Students from Lancaster High School will be given their chance to speak out on trending social issues and diverse political topics on this very online news site as part of an editorial collaboration between teachers and The AV Times.
The new section in The AV Times will feature editorials by participating Lancaster High School students. It will include the best articles chosen by teachers for publication, one each week through May 2015.
Cheryl Hulgan, an English teacher at Lancaster High, said months of learning have already gone into this editorial project, helping students to understand types of arguments and to master persuasive writing skills. According to Hulgan, each student editorial will be the result of “coalescing these skills” into a tangible product for readers.
“In addition to a publishing opportunity, the editorials are a semester writing assignment and are a necessary part of student semester grades,” she said, noting that persuasive writing is also a requirement of Common Core curriculum standards.
After meeting with The AV Times editor about the prospect of submitting editorials from honor students, Hulgan explained that her students believed their opinions were just as important as adults, and that they wanted an outlet to be heard.
“Two colleagues and myself had a passion for seeing our students’ writing presented in a public forum so they could benefit from seeing their work published and readers could benefit from their inspiring ideas,” she said. “Further, we were passionate about our students acquiring a chance to voice their views about issues important to them and to their peers.”
Hulgan, along with fellow English teachers Eve Richard and Angelina Dickey, continue to work with their students on the technical aspects of editorial writing – including rough draft development, proofreading, and that inevitably-satisfying final draft.
However, one of the most critical aspects of penning an editorial for readers of the general public is actually picking the topic. According to Hulgan, topic selection should not be left to chance when providing engaging material of substance to your peers.
“I directed my students to a list of 200 writing prompts, that was published on NYTimes.com last year with the announcement of their editorial contest,” Hulgan said, explaining that the editorials will address current events or monthly themes, such as Black History Month in February. “The 200 choices spanned seven categories so I knew each student would find something to their liking.”
Hulgan said the editorial process will include reading and grading the articles for her students, and then submitting the articles to The AV Times editor. However, the submission of student editorials will also depend on parents signing permission slips for “students interested in participating in the publishing stage,” she explained, noting that students were encouraged – but not pressured to have their work published.
And with online commentary being the hotbed for healthy critique – as well as furious condemnation – Hulgan said that her students are prepared.
“Students have been instructed to expect reader responses and that those responses can be critical as well as approving,” she said, while assuring the eager minds of her class that The AV Times will filter any explicit or profane comments from those less-than-civil responses. “And, on behalf of our students, we appreciate that.”
The Lancaster High School teachers expressed excitement for launching the new AV Times section for their students, now having the opportunity to see their students’ hard work featured in a public forum.
“To know our students have valuable outlooks, and then to be able to share that with others, is a dream come true for us as educators,” Hulgan said.