Going online

MONTGOMERY – Students in Carrie McNear’s web journalism course at Montgomery Area High School not only are strengthening their writing skills but also are informing the student body on happenings around the community.

“It makes them accountable to know what’s going on around (the school district),” explained McNear.

For the first time at the high school, an entire course is dedicated to students learning about web journalism. McNear said students are learning about the structure of news articles, the difference between print and web media, among other aspects.

Students are responsible for writing and putting together the class’ online publication, “Raiders Digest.” Each edition includes features on students, teachers, extra curricular activities and new students to the district.

The course was created when school staff were looking at ways to offer more elective classes that focus on writing.

“It was to really try to support our writing initiative here but in a different outlet,” McNear said.

And by the class requiring students to publish their work, it gives them extra motivation to polish their work.

“I think that (students) are seeing that it’s not just turn it in, teacher sees it and they receive a grade,” said McNear. “They’re accountable to others who are seeing it.”

Matthew Reinhart, a senior in the class, said the fact that the publication is online fits in perfectly with the district’s push for technology, as students already have iPads. Reinhart previously took the high school’s broadcast classes with McNear, which made him interested in trying something new. He added that the course is sharpening his writing skills.

Kaitlyn Hipple, another senior in the class, saw this as an opportunity to get a jump start on her career. Hipple plans to study journalism after graduation and called the course “a gift.”

“It made me really have a belief that this is what I want to do,” she said. “I have a passion for it.”

McNear said that the students really have embraced the class. She noted that the hope was to have one digest published before the end of the semester and the class currently is set to launch its third.

“The kids have just taken off with it,” she said.

McNear hopes that the class will continue to grow in the coming years. She would like to see two levels of the class. The first level, she explained, would teach the basics with the second being able to build upon that with the digest.

She added that students have taken ownership of the class and help shape it.

“I have been really excited about their ideas,” McNear said.