Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Some First Amendment Cheer

As everyone struggles to tie loose ends before the holiday break, I hope this blog reminds you to start planning for this year’s First Amendment Symposium at the Indiana Statehouse, March 3, in addition to giving you some information that might make a good final exam or second semester project.

As a way to expand First Amendment activities, this year’s symposium competition will involve some new categories. In addition to the traditional essay contest and David Adams project competition, are a couple of specific categories for graphic artists.

The first is a poster design contest. The poster can be vertical or horizontal but should be 11x17 and illustrate the spirit of the First Amendment through text and/or artistic expression. This is a good way to include your art department or other students at your school in the IHSPA First Amendment initiative.

The second new category is a postage stamp design based on the irony of the Simpson family stamps that were issued last summer. One of the First Amendment studies discovered that more people were able to name the five members of the Simpson family than the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment. When I heard about the Simpson postage stamps, I checked to see when postage stamps had been issued to celebrate the First Amendment. The only thing my research uncovered was a Bill of Rights stamp issued in 1992.

Therefore, it’s time for Indiana students to design stamps that celebrate the First Amendment. The challenge is a set of five stamp designs representing each of the guaranteed freedoms. We will submit the winning entries as an idea for a book of stamps—like the Simpson family.

Anyone who promotes these ideas as assignments or First Amendment activities is encouraged choose the one or two best designs and essays and send them to dhadley@franklincollege.edu as a jpeg or PDF by Friday, Feb. 5

Feel welcome to use the sample "Final Exam" assignment from this IHSPA Web page. You'll find the link under "Miscellaneous Resources" on the right-hand side of the "Forms" page.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Don't Be Fooled

Advisers need to be aware that recent advertising for “free music downloads”also leads readers to a Web site that also promotes racially charged information.

According to an article in the Monday, November 23, Indianapolis Star, a spokesperson for the group that purchases the ad says the group is trying to recruit “white youth all across America to fight for the white race.”

The group is choosing respected and widely read high school newspapers to spread its message. As you can imagine, the fallout from such an ad in a high school publication gains attention from the professional media and increases the coverage.

Anyone who has been contacted by this group is encouraged to contact me, so that we can study the campaign.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Scholastic Journalism's Future

The Grand Forks Herald won a Pulitzer Prize a few years ago for its coverage of a flood in North Dakota that also destroyed the newspaper’s facilities and many of the reporters’ homes. In retrospect, the editor said the multi-faceted disaster tested what the staff was made of—and they discovered they were made of pretty good stuff.

Most people know the state’s teacher license proposal on top of other issues including the continuing challenge to journalism due to Core 40 have culminated into the perfect storm that has had Hoosier journalism educators in “disaster mode” most of the week.

Monday through Wednesday included a troubling public hearing and one bad E-mail after another as people from throughout the state shared concerns.

I’m not going to say that everything is fine now. Everyone is still worried about the future of scholastic journalism in Indiana, but we have moved from panic to action. We have joined forces to review the content of our teacher training and study the dynamics of the political process that may affect journalism programs.

IHSPA and our J-partners at the university level have contacted other organizations that are equally affected by this initiative, and we have shared information.

At this point we encourage people to check the link to the D.O.E. Web site and contact any members of the REPA Advisory Panel in your area before their November 18 meeting to share our concerns.

A major worry is that including journalism in the vocational/workplace/ occupational specialist license will end our effort to move journalism into a stronger academic position on the Core 40 Academic Honors Diploma grid to stop the drain
from many of the existing programs.

A second concern is that the goal to emphasize content might sacrifice the education classes that are also important. The result could be negative as new teachers go into classrooms and adviser positions without the combination of content and teaching skills they need to be most effective.

We hope to delay the November 18 action to provide more discussion and collaboration between all the parties involved, but we are already planning a coalition with media professionals, other organizations, former students and parents as we try to elevate the status of existing journalism programs and promote curricula in media literacy for all students.

This won’t be easy, but anyone who teachers journalism and advises publications didn’t choose the easy route in the first place. As an organization that has been around since 1922, we have survived other tough challenges.

Like the Grand Forks Herald staff—our people are made of pretty good stuff.

Professional Standards Board Members:


D.O.E. Web site REPA information:

Other relevant resources:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Remembering Ms. Grubb

Robert Hansen and Miss Jeannette Grubb, left, his newspaper adviser at Shortridge High School, attended the 2005 IHSPA convention where she was honored with a lifetime membership.
The days before the fall convention have given me the opportunity to talk to many advisers about a variety of topics, not the least of which is the stress of being a teacher of any subject let alone advising high school publications. As they reach mid-semester they feel overworked and under-appreciated.

Among the many E-mails that arrived on Tuesday was one from Bob Hansen, a former student who nominated Miss Jeannette Grubb for an IHSPA lifetime membership in 2002 when she was 102 years old. Although IHSPA started awarding the lifetime honor long after Miss Grubb’s career, her students remembered her and wanted to pay tribute.

Bob volunteered to be Miss Grubb’s escort for the day, and Senator Richard Lugar sent a letter that praised her leadership. She insisted that she had nothing to say publicly, but she allowed everyone to fuss over her a bit, and she said she enjoyed returning to Franklin for the fall conference she had attended with her students decades ago.

This week’s E-mail was news of Miss Grubb’s death at age 106. Senator Lugar has written a tribute which includes a new story for many of us about his trip to the principal’s office because of a column he wrote criticizing the “unhealthy habits of the basketball team.” He says the Echo’s headquarters were shut down temporarily, and he was told that unbridled journalism could have consequences for him, the school and Miss Grubb.

He adds that freedom of the press prevailed, and Miss Grubb was his “heroine.” Senator’s Lugar’s tribute to his adviser decades after his newspaper staff days have passed is a reminder that those who teach and advise make a positive difference in people’s lives.

We look forward to recognizing the efforts of other advisers next week at this year’s IHSPA fall convention.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Convention A Great Learning Experience

I think everyone will be excited with all of the opportunities available for the 2009 IHSPA convention at Franklin College October 22 and 23.

There are many ways to experience the convention thanks to a creative effort to meet a variety of requests and circumstances.

Those who choose to come on Thursday evening can choose between On-Site competition or social activities for students and advisers. Click here for a link to the On-Site categories and registration form (See Quick Downloads). Click here to see the full convention schedule which is available in a PDF format.

Friday’s schedule includes keynote speaker Thomas French, a new approach to the awards presentation, and two different kinds of learning experiences.

For those who want an in-depth experience there are intensive workshops that last 2-3 hours.

Preregistration (dhadley@franklincollege.edu) is needed for the following intensive workshops:

Intro to InDesign and Photoshop

Advanced Publications Design

Website Development


Preregistration is not required but encouraged for additional intensive workshops:

Story Development with Thomas French

Student Media Leadership

Photojournalism Skills (Students should bring a digital camera for hands-on experience)

In addition to the intensive workshops, there are 19 quick sessions in a wide range of topics available at the following link.

Registration at the $25 fee (which includes lunch) has been extended through Oct. 5. Anyone with questions is encouraged to send an E-mail or call 317.738.8199 or 317.341.4360.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Yearbooks Key To Positive Schools

Matthew Tully has been writing a series of articles about Manual High School for the Indianapolis Star as a way to shine a light on the state of the Indianapolis Public School system. His story told through the eyes of Manual’s teachers, administrators, students and parents is available on his blog here, or type in “Manual Project at IndyStar.com/MatthewTully.

The third article of the series printed in the Star’s September 13 issue discusses the inspiration and school spirit that have diminished at Manual as traditions have been eliminated.

Tully says, “I have seen many mind-boggling things during my first month at Manual High—including students arrested and teachers threatened—but I was still caught by surprise when informed about a tidbit of life at the school."

That “tidbit” is the fact that the school hasn’t had a yearbook in years. There is no student newspaper or student council, and the school hasn’t produced a musical in a decade. He doesn’t blame these things for Manual’s low test scores, graduation rate or attendance, but he describes them as additional signs that the school is not thriving.

Co-curricular or extracurricular activities may seem like expendables when budgets are tight, but they are valuable components for a positive learning environment. Those who have had the opportunity to meet students from across the country through workshops, conventions and high school visitations often conclude that students who attend schools that have strong publications programs and student government benefit in a variety of ways.

The opportunity for students to express interests and concerns about school activities and issues provides ownership. Not every student suggestion or complaint has to lead to change for the student body to feel that individual and collective voice matters. Communication between students with other students, teachers and administrators through publications and student government creates a dynamic that contributes to a positive school atmosphere.

An administrator at one of our member schools read last Sunday’s article and took the time to thank the publications adviser at his school for leading groups that play such an important role.

The Indiana High School Press Association tries to help schools promote programs that become the “tidbits” that make such a difference. Keep us informed of your successes and challenges as we try to share best practices with others.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Friendly Reminder About Those Deadlines

One of my friends in the preschool business used to joke about the way their lives revolved around holidays. As soon as they gathered all the materials and activities to celebrate Halloween, they began to collect ideas for Thanksgiving. In a similar way many IHSPA activities revolve around deadlines that occur throughout the year. Even though we try to provide mini calendars and E-mail updates, it’s challenging to keep track of all of them.

The next big deadline is a September 15 postmark for yearbook Harvey entries. Information and entry forms can be downloaded from the IHSPA Website. The yearbook Harvey competition is a great contest for everyone, but it is also a good first competition for new programs and special individual efforts. I meet adults who tell me they still cherish Harvey awards they received many years ago. It is often the first award a journalism student wins.

I hope you and your students will have the opportunity over the next few days to gather some of the best work from the 2009 yearbook to submit for this year’s contest.

Then start looking ahead to the next deadline: registration for this year’s convention October 22-23 at Franklin College.

As always, keep us informed of your success and challenges, and enjoy the Labor Day weekend.