High school journalism makes a difference

By Carlton Koonce
Teen Mentoring Counselor
the Durham VOICE

Think back to when you came of age – became a young adult.

Was it October 1996 or 1986? Maybe the year was 1965.

Or maybe it’s this 2011 homecoming season.

High school is one of the most formative times in our lives. It’s typically the time we began to realize who we are and began to become seasoned men and women.

Carlton Koonce and Campus Echo Editor-in-Chief Aaron Saunders mentor young journalists at Hillside High School. (Staff photo by Jock Lauterer)

Starting this past August, we began to collaborate with journalism classes at Hillside, Southern and Northern High Schools to engage our city’s next generation of journalists, photojournalists, public spokespersons and columnists.

Although the VOICE aims to be representative of all citizen interests in Central Durham, it’s also meant to be an aggregating outlet for local teens to share news that matters to them while keeping the citizens of Northeast Central Durham and Central Durham at large well informed in community happenings.

Often it seems like in this fast-paced world of 24/7 modern media, certain demographics, like our local teens, are lost in the constant shuffle of reporters, editors and publishers.

Since its infancy, the VOICE has been on a mission to change this path.

Thanks to local dedicated high school journalism teachers and school administrations, the VOICE has had the opportunity this school year to take itself squarely to the feet of folks it truly wants to reach.

Through the caring instruction of teachers like Elizabeth DeOrnellas at Hillside, Heather Lemke at Southern and William Schrader at Northern, we have had the opportunity of visiting classes of future media personnel to not only mentor but to also inspire young students in creating content for their high school newspapers.

Occasionally some of this content will appear in the pages you hold in your hands or on the screen you may look at as the VOICE continues to share stories of the community.

Also, thanks to our teen editor, Praycious Wilson-Gay, this month the VOICE has had the opportunity to visit Josephine Dobbs Clement Early College High School on the campus of NCCU to teach the yearbook staff the basics of photojournalism and the impact of a simple photograph.

Many of our UNC and NCCU mentors currently work for the VOICE, the Carrboro Commons or their own student publications – The Daily Tar Heel or the Campus Echo.

Soon many of them will be working for professional media outlets across the country. But a majority will tell you that they got their earliest training at their high school publications – like student newspapers and yearbooks.

Many will tell you high school was the time that they were molded into not only the journalists but also the individuals they are today.

It’s for this very reason that the VOICE is pleased that these aforementioned teachers and schools allow us into their classes with the understanding that these times are significant in a young person’s life.

Ujamma is a Swahili word that reflects much of the VOICE’s work in the schools and community.

The concept means that a person becomes an individual through interaction with people and community.

As homecomings wrap up at high schools and universities all across town, we are honored to take a small part this season in the interactions that shape young citizens into the responsible adults of tomorrow.

Onward and upward.