Fairmont’s award-winning online newsmagazine, The Flyer, is no longer a year-long course offered to students. The student-publication website has been on hiatus as it’s future remained in limbo.
In the spring of 2019, The Flyer was cut from the course offerings to students in grades 9-12 due to low enrollment. The class could not be offered or operated with only a few students enrolled.
Since then, former Flyer adviser and current journalism teacher Lacy Drake has worked to change and adapt.
“Not having some type of student publication was really sad, especially in a school this size,” she said. “We have been brainstorming and looking at other schools to see what is working for them.”
Fairmont offers a one-semester elective course called Journalism. This course is open to all students in grades 9-12 and offers an extensive overview of all things journalism.
“Journalism teaches students the fundamentals of the career,” Drake said. “Students learn about what makes something news, laws, how to interview, write stories, take photos and more.”
The Flyer operated as a student newsroom. Once students had the skills needed from journalism, Flyer gave them a chance to be on a staff and produce their own publication. Some students were on The Flyer staff for 3 years.
“The Flyer was a fully functioning publication,” Drake said. “The students had leadership positions such as Editors-in-Chief, sports reporters and chief photographers. Kids could take the course every year and remain on staff.”
Drake realized that the semester journalism curriculum needed the website and a more hands-on approach as well.
“I have essentially combined the two courses into one. Students get the content and skills from journalism, but also the real-life experience of operating a website and publishing their content to the internet and social media.”
The course will still be called Journalism and students can only take it for one semester, but it will operate as The Flyer once did in a sense. The website will be a major tool in the courses curriculum.
“The website will be a blank slate and a fresh start for my current and future journalism students to design, manage and publish content as they learn the ins and outs of journalism,” she said.
For years, The Flyer printed a monthly hardcopy magazine that was sold at lunchtime or by subscription. However, when things started going virtual in all aspects of the world and media, newspapers and magazines were left behind.
“It was a lot of money for her (former adviser Janie Ross) to print the issues,” Drake said. “Eventually, they weren’t making money selling them either so she ditched the print version and purchased the website as the main platform.”
In a school of over 2,500 students, Drake hopes to spark interest in journalism again both in the high school setting and as a career after graduation.
“Journalism is important and it is fun. All students can find enjoyment and interest in some part of this course,” Drake said. “That is my goal at least.”
Follow on Twitter @FairmontFlyer and check back here for new stories this spring!
If you are interested in taking journalism during the 2021-22 school year, talk to your counselor now. Stay tuned for more information about an after-school Journalism club as well.