The school newsmagazine of Kettering Fairmont High School.

The Flyer

Online newsmagazine seeks candidates for ‘Flyer’ family

Photo: Jessica Wuensch

Staff members of 'The Flyer' are captured in the Room 121 newsroom. Clockwise from top left: Adam Wolfe; Kelly Hart; Tristan Buirley, Jilly Hall and Andrea Rollert; and Dakota Miller.

By Kevin O'Donnell & Paqui Toscano, Editors-in-Chief

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It’s that time again: Scheduling week is right around the corner and the class options for next year seem limitless. Acronyms like AP, IB and CTC are starting to be thrown around; suddenly words like “college prep,” “electives” and “credits” become much more commonplace as students prepare for that crucial first week in February.

The different choices and paths to take can set anyone’s head spinning. Do I want to pursue writing? Photography? What about graphic design? Or business and marketing? The Flyer offers all that and more.

The Flyer is Fairmont’s online newsmagazine. It provides it all: news, sports coverage, informative stories, fun features, videos, games, upcoming events, entertainment reviews and a place for student discussion. If you’re reading this at www.fairmontflyer.com, you probably know all this. The class is a one-period elective, but it is much more than that.

Non-traditional class offers great benefits

The Flyer is filled with students who work hard at what they do, but also have fun as they do it. The Flyer is a non-traditional class that can yield great pride and feelings of accomplishment. More importantly, perhaps, it’s a bonding experience with other students.

“The thing I like best about Flyer is being able to work with my friends and get a lot done,” said Fairmont senior and Sports Editor Kelly Hart. “It’s a great way to meet new people, explore the depths of journalism, and challenge myself in many and varied ways. It’s a blast!”

Fairmont sophomore and Entertainment Editor Adam Wolfe agrees. “Flyer is so fun. I love coming in here and seeing the friends I’ve made in this class – it’s such a bonding experience. I love being able to work on my own thing but still be able to socialize a little bit with my fellow Flyer staffers. We’re like a team.”

Staffers have a good time in the Flyer room, but they keep an eye on the deadlines so they can create the best online publication possible. Of course, the deadline is well worth the pride of seeing their stories and photos on the website. “It’s awesome to have my stories on the website because it makes me feel like I’ve done something important by informing people all over the world with new information or ideas from a different perspective,” said senior Andrea Rollert, the staff’s features editor.

Hart agrees. “It’s nice to see your story up because it’s something you worked really hard on. It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment – also it’s really great to see comments and know people are actually reading what you’re writing.”

Reaching a wider – much wider – audience

Until two years ago, The Flyer produced only a print publication, and about 600 people bought the issue each month. Now more than 2,500 people visit the website each week. Most visitors are in the Kettering area, but web statistics show that www.fairmontflyer.com regularly attracts readers from a number of foreign countries as well.

Last year, a Flyer staff member wrote a review of a CD by an Atlanta-based band called Right Side of the Tree and was delighted when a member of the band found it online and responded to his comments.

In addition to reaching a larger audience, going online gives The Flyer staff unlimited space for stories, photos, slideshows, podcasts and more. The staff is still exploring creative ways to expand the multi-media experience on the site.

All of this requires technology, of course, and The Flyer is constantly expanding its resources. Flyer staffers currently have access to five digital cameras, three of which are Nikon digital SLRs, plus three digital voice recorders. The Flyer newsroom, located in Room 121, is equipped with 22 computers that are loaded with powerful and versatile programs such as Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash, Audacity and Soundslides.

Helping each other; learning by doing

But potential Flyer staffers shouldn’t be concerned if they’re unfamiliar with some or even all of the technology. “It’s a class, after all,” reminds Flyer Adviser Janie Ross, who came to Fairmont after a career in newspapers. “Students learn from each other and by just getting out there and trying. On-the-job experience is invaluable.”

Indeed, The Flyer is structured so that veteran staff members can guide the “newbies,” even as the new staffers bring fresh ideas and skills to the publication.

Senior Dani Schaaf, who is in her second year on The Flyer, steers the visual ship as Chief Photographer. “I look over what everyone is doing. People come to me if they have questions about Photoshop or how a photo should look. I also give out assignments,” said Schaaf, who other staffers lovingly nickname “Mama Schaaf.”

For Schaaf, The Flyer has been a test of leadership, but she also finds a deeper connection to her job. “I love helping people out and seeing them grow and learn. I know they’re changing, and when I give them that positive feedback, it brightens them up,” she said.

Developing lifelong interests and skills

Assistant Chief Photographer Kaydee Miller also is a two-year Flyer veteran. She wrote articles as a junior but discovered she enjoyed photography toward the end of last year. Now she manages photo galleries on the website. “I’ve learned to manage my time better because it’s on your own, and Mrs. Ross helps us in more of a college environment than a high school environment,” said Miller.

Senior Sam Robison is the mastermind behind The Flyer’s full-color print covers and photo illustrations. He uses Adobe Photoshop to turn photos into works of art. “You can take those pictures and turn them into things that are completely different,” he said. “My favorite part is what you end up with. You have this picture and no idea what to do, and a little bit later you’ve made something cool that you might never have thought about.”

Junior Jessica Wuensch, who is in her first year on The Flyer, says she’s learned how to use technology like Photoshop and cameras, but also much more. “I’ve learned some good interview skills and skills for talking with people,” said Wuensch. “I really like it.”

 Wuensch is always on the lookout for a new story. “If I know I’m going to go to a sporting event I take a camera with me. I also have the administration beat, so I go cover Board of Education meetings,” she said.

Sophomore Robert Bowling II manages The Flyer’s business affairs and sells advertisements for the print publication and the website. “I love my job,” he said. “I love calling people and talking to them and getting to know people besides the people I know in The Flyer room. Being business manager benefits you in the present and the future. It teaches you how to be responsible.”

Reasons for taking class are ‘endless’

Flyer students have consistently said their favorite part of the class is the business-like environment where they learn more than just lesson plans. “I think whether you want to continue in journalism or not, students who take this class come away with skills that really help them in college,” said Ross, who is in her 12th year of advising The Flyer. “I get a kick out of hearing from Flyer veterans who tell me that the time management and interviewing skills they got here have really paid off once they leave Fairmont.”

If you’re still wondering what The Flyer can do for you, ask staff writer Nikki Kelley, a sophomore. “People should join The Flyer to express their creativity, to learn more about the journalists’ side of the world and to receive support from people who have similar goals,” she said. “But there are so many other reasons to do Flyer, even if you have absolutely no goals of pursuing journalism as a long-term career. The reasons for taking Flyer are endless!”

For more information on The Flyer or to get an application to apply to join the 2011-12 Flyer staff, contact Janie Ross in person in Room 121, via email at janie.ross@ketteringschools.org or by phone at 937-499-1656.

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The school newsmagazine of Kettering Fairmont High School.
Online newsmagazine seeks candidates for ‘Flyer’ family