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Student journalists still working at DeKalb and Sycamore high

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Monica Maschak/
Zaven Torian (from left), Noah Dosier and Sarah Haudek brainstorm on a story as Madelyn Loellke (right) types out her story during an after school meeting Jan. 22 for Sycamore High School’s student newspaper Spartan Voice.

Kevin Beverley can’t tell his students what to expect for the future of journalism, but he believes reporting and writing are skills that always will serve them well.

Student newspaper advisers at both DeKalb and Sycamore high schools say their staffers are few in number but great in enthusiasm, and those students insist on having a printed version of their work.

“When registration for journalism dropped, the administration combined that with academic writing,” said Beverley, teacher at DeKalb High School who also is faculty adviser to the student newspaper The Barb Wire.

“The two classes are pretty compatible.”

In fact, the two writing classes meet at the same time, in the same classroom, with Beverley moving back and forth to keep both groups working.

He said the decrease in journalism enrollment was simply because graduation requirements increased, reducing the number of electives a student could take.

“There are only so many class periods in the day,” Beverley said, “but we want to keep the program and the newspaper alive.”

Journalism is no longer offered as a class at Sycamore High School, but school newspaper adviser Annette Keca said the Spartan Voice has found new life as an after-school club that meets weekly.

“This is a social place to be,” Keca said. “After meeting, they have go for dinner together. They have a great sense of community.”

Sycamore sophomore Madelyn Loellke said working with the newspaper has helped her improve her writing style, and she enjoys the rest of the staff.

“This is a fun group of people,” Loellke said.

Keca said the newspaper has brought together students that might not otherwise know each other.

“There was only about six to start, but word of mouth spread and others joined,” Keca said. “About half of the 15 staff members we have now are looking into journalism as a major or minor in college.”

Keca said not all the Sycamore students involved write for the paper.

“We have one student who creates a crossword puzzle for each each issue,” she said.

Spartan Voice staff members plan and write all the stories, and provide all the pictures; Keca lays out the pages.

Sycamore sophomore Danielle Grum said she aspires to be a sports reporter.

“You always hear ‘those who can’t do, teach,’ “ Grum said. “I believe that those who can’t do can write about it. I’m not athletic, but I like sports and I can write about them. It’s fun to tell people what happened at a game.”

At The Barb Wire, Beverley teaches his students the process from start to finish, including the design work.

The most difficult part, agreed several staff members of The Barb Wire, is interviewing strangers.

“Interviewing is tough,” said Joey Oxvenbad. “It’s difficult talking to people I don’t know; it can be nerve-wracking.”

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