Values affirmed as the staff enters a period of transition
By The Editorial Board
Fifty-five years ago, the Riptide began as modest publication with only a few pages per issue. Since then, the publication has grown significantly in size and expertise, as well as received national recognition by the National Scholastic Press Association (First Class) and Columbia Scholastic Press Association (Gold Medalist).
Next year, the newspaper’s long-time adviser, Steven Denlinger, will be leaving to take an advisory position in Stafford, Virginia. During this time of change and growth, it is important to hold onto our roots and remember what makes the Riptide so important to its students, the school, and the greater community.
On the Riptide, we value quality at every level of the newspaper. Through our program, putting together a single issue requires countless hours from a host of staff members including reporters, editors, photographers, and designers. These efforts pay off in a polished final product, often leading to positive recognition from the greater journalistic community. This system also allows for students to develop pride and confidence in their work, making it easier to accept negative critiques.
We value the emphasis placed on upholding professional journalistic standards throughout the class. Early on, students are taught how to write a proper news story, work on layout and design, and understand the significant role that law and ethics hold in journalism. Most importantly, we never allow our role as a student-run high school newspaper justify low standards of journalistic rigor. We take pride in telling real stories in hopes that they will have an impact the school and community.
We value the role that we play in the community. The Riptide reaches one of the largest audiences on Vashon: a combination of students, teachers, parents and families, and other assorted community members. This recognition and broad reception helps inspire the staff to continue meeting the expectations of our community. Additionally, our position as a high school newspaper allows a unique closeness to the students and younger generations of Vashon. We are able to show what the student body thinks about current issues, allowing us to offer a different perspective than a more traditional media outlet.
We value the opportunities that the class provides to travel across the U.S., learning more about journalism. Annually, members of the Riptide and the Yearbook staffs travel to a Scholastic Journalism Conference. This allows students to learn about journalism from the best in the field as well as discover new and innovative ways to improve their publications. This knowledge also helps ensure that the Riptide stays relevant, and is able to compete with other publications from a variety of high schools. Additionally, throughout the week of travel, the staff strengthens bonds with each other that are essential to the smooth running of the paper. Finally, the trip provides an opportunity for students to experience some of the biggest cities in America. The cultural exposure itself is an equally important educational opportunity, one that rivals the conferences.
We value the emphasis put on student leadership in every aspect of the class. The Riptide does not aim to teach students just how to write a news story or take photographs, although these are clearly important skills. We work to teach responsibility, initiative, and leadership. It is this Editorial Board’s experience that these lessons — and the responsibilities that come with them — are long-lasting and will prove useful for the rest of their lives.
We value the support that members of the staff give to each other. As already stated, this newspaper involves a significant time commitment and a lot of work. Time and time again, we have heard students say that the effort would not be worth it without the rest of the staff. The class provides an opportunity to step away from the traditional social hierarchies of high school and becomes friends with unexpected people. Friendships are formed under fire, through challenges such as the final deadlines, last-minute design issues, missing articles, or absent photographs. Students are forced to rely on one another, and in the end, a staff becomes so much more.
Next year, the newspaper’s long-time adviser, Steven Denlinger, will take the reins of the high school journalism program in Stafford, Virginia. With him, he takes a tried-and-true method of instructing and a stability that stems from continuity. This absence will lead to a period of change for the Riptide, especially as we welcome our new adviser, Kara Sears. During this time of uncertainty, we will look back at our history. Though this change in leadership is significant, it need not affect the core values and standards of the paper. By holding tight to these beliefs, we will be able to ensure the continued strong legacy of the Riptide.