Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tinker Story One Of Courage, Patience

My recent voice mail message begins, “Hello. This is Mary Beth Tinker.

I’m not generally a name-dropper, but I have taught the Tinker v. Des Moines case throughout my career, so it is exciting to have a Tinker kid return a call.

The Tinker family couldn’t have imagined that their symbolic protest against the Vietnam War would still be a landmark case for student expression 40 years after it went to the Supreme Court, but from the beginning their desire to protest required the kind of courage that it often takes to protect the First Amendment.

Tinker said that when administrators heard about the protest they called an emergency meeting and decided that any student wearing a black armband to school would be suspended.

“After that, we weren’t sure what to do. We had learned about the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment in school, and we felt free speech should apply to us too,” Tinker said.

She added that the young activists used the examples of civil rights protesters as their models for the courage needed to proceed.

Four decades later students think of the Tinkers as models of courage too. IHSPA student officers instantly named Tinker as their top choice for a speaker at this year’s First Amendment Symposium.

Although she is a full-time registered nurse in Washington D.C., Tinker still works for peace and rights for young people.

And that leads to the best part of the voice message—that she will speak at this year’s symposium. For more information about this event contact Diana Hadley. There is no registration or fee, but knowing the number of people who plan to attend helps us plan.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Makes A 'Complete' Yearbook?

It’s that time of year when the IHSPA tide is going out and coming in at the same time. The mail service delivers yearbook critiques from the judges, and I send newspapers to be judged.

As I tabulate the results I like to see that Indiana publications score well with national judges; and I scan critique comments to get an idea of trends and priorities.

It’s a good time of year to emphasize a judge’s note on a critique I received this week. He reminded the staff that a yearbook has three vital functions. It should be a memory book, a history book, and a record book. A yearbook that isn’t all of these things may not receive the highest rating, but even more important—it may not meet the “test of time” and thus fail to provide its audience and the school with a valuable resource.

At many schools the yearbook may be the only place to locate information about athletic team records, school traditions, and curricular and facility changes.

I attended a meeting where people thought their local high school’s first football team was in the 1940s until I showed them a 1908 yearbook with a football team picture.

Looking through old yearbooks also provides historical links to the present…and new story ideas. For example, many schools are challenged to sell ads during a recession, and some are struggling to keep programs as the corporation tries to find ways to cut costs. Students from older schools may look through the yearbook archives and find that yearbooks weren’t published some years during the 1930s and 40s due to the economic challenges of the depression and World War II.

Despite the positive feedback from judges about last year’s publications, it’s also that time of year when advisers tell me their staffs have the “doldrums.” The fun of creating the theme and covering the first events of the school year evolves into a task that seems too big to finish in the days that remain. That’s because it’s a big job. It’s not easy to provide the primary memory, history, and record of the school year, but it’s still important and appreciated, and Indiana staffs have a tradition of dong it well.

Let us know how IHSPA can help as you continue the second half of this effort.

Note: Click Here to see the latest yearbook and newspaper Hoosier Stars. Scroll down on the IHSPA Home page to see these winning publications.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mary Beth Tinker In Our House

It’s a big news day. Mary Beth Tinker is coming to “our house”—the Indiana Statehouse when we celebrate the First Amendment at the third annual symposium March 3!

It is impossible to bury the lead when a Tinker kid can share her experience with us on the 40th Anniversary of the Tinker vs. Des Moines Supreme Court Decision. Although Mary Beth has a full-time job as a nurse, she is arranging her schedule to speak to us because she knows how important it is to educate people about the First Amendment and inspire them to protect it.

A mailing went out today with information about deadlines for the symposium, newspaper Hoosier Star and Student Journalist of the Year. Some advisers already know the thrill of seeing their students recognized in the beautiful North Atrium of the Indiana Statehouse. We hope everyone will encourage their students to participate in the contests for that kind of experience.

Check out the information about this year’s symposium essay contest and the First Amendment Project competition in the mailing or on the IHSPA Web site. Although the event is free and requires no registration it is helpful to know how many people to expect.

I hope you will call or e-mail me with the number attending and any questions you have about the contests or parking at the Statehouse at: office phone: 317.738.8199 or cell phone: 317.341.4360