By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
NORTHBOROUGH/SOUTHBOROUGH – The Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) student run, nationally recognized newspaper, The Harbinger, had to make pandemic adjustments this year and shift to a full online format.
Even so, it continues to be a hands-on learning experience for students—one which strives to engage student voices and enhance a sense of school community.
National recognition received
The Harbinger has received consistent recognition over the years for individual stories and overall excellence.
It was honored with the 2021 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Silver Crown for print and website for the 2019-2020 school year.
Catherine Hayden and Gabriela Paz-Soldan’s October 2019 article “This Bites-EEE’s impact on Algonquin” won the National Scholastic Press Association’s (NSPA) 2020 Story of the Year award.
The paper was a 2020 NSPA Pacemaker finalist for its print product and it is currently a NSPA Pacemaker finalist for its online edition.
“It’s nice recognition for the hard work they do,” said Adviser Lindsay Coppens. “It puts you on the map…it keeps the bar high.”
The Harbinger staff delves into important, sometimes controversial topics that have a direct effect on the school community. Upcoming topics include racism and the impact of increased local industrial development near Algonquin.
Editors-in-Chief Aaliyah Yan and Karthik Yalala, both ARHS seniors, are proud of both the accomplishments of the 30 member staff as well as the ways they have adapted to this unusual school year.
“One of our biggest responsibilities is to give people a voice who wouldn’t normally have a voice,” said Yan. “It’s so powerful for us to do.”
Online format shifts focus
The staff’s shift to an online format this year has given them the opportunity for reflection and reinvention, said Coppens.
The focus has been on website improvements, increased online content, and promoting articles on social media platforms.
Coverage continues to reach a varied audience with a mix of meaningful, important and fun topics.
Coppens said the paper is not just for students. She described it as a great source of information for anyone seeking to “understand what is going on with teenagers in the community today.”
However, there is one thing that is missing this year – the excitement and energy that comes as students and staff scramble for the print copy.
“I miss seeing others reading the print issue,” said Yalala. “You don’t get that same unity by having everything online.”
A special Class of 2021 print edition is being planned.
Students have passion for their work
This work requires effort.
“It takes hours and hours of time to produce a free product for the school and community that they are dedicated to,” said Coppens. “They are doing it in their free time on top of vigorous schedules, sports, and work.”
Coppens also said that many real world elements play into the editorial staff roles. These include collaboration, communicating, organizing, budget balancing and relationship building.
Students who take “Journalism” as an elective class become contributors to the paper and often remain on the staff to work up to leadership roles.
“I’m glad I got pulled into it sophomore year,” said Yan. “It never was on my radar.”
Subscriptions and advertisement sales help to defray the $7,000 per year cost to produce 6-8 issues in a typical year.