They Killed My High School Newspaper

Founded in 1922, the Perrysburg High School student newspaper known affectionately as The Somethin’ is printing its last edition today. It’s not because of financial reasons or educational budget cuts. They’re shutting down my beloved high school newspaper because of the students and their lack of interest.

According to an article in the Toledo Blade, “There just wasn’t enough student interest to warrant the cost. Students now choose other activities and steer away from courses that put an emphasis on intensive writing or reading.” I’ll give you a second to reread that last sentence and contemplate the ramifications.

I’ll give you another second, just in case you’re one of the millions who don’t read and have trouble stringing words together to formulate a sentence in order to extrapolate meaning—because that’s certainly the direction in which we’re headed, according to this atrocious travesty that has befallen Perrysburg’s education system.

I graduated from Perrysburg High School in 2000. I was a member of The Somethin’ staff my junior year and Story Editor my senior year. I had a nice, fancy pile of clippings to submit to prospective colleges, and thanks to my experience, I was admitted to journalism programs at New York University, University of Michigan, and the EW Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University—widely considered one of the best in the country. Would I have been admitted to any of these schools without clippings? No. Would I have ended up as a professional writer without The Somethin’? No. Unequivocally, no.

c/o The Toledo Blade.

The Somethin’ classroom was a place where I could hone my craft while surrounded by other journalism students who gave me feedback and helped me develop as a reporter and as a person. It was the place where I learned to be ambitious and “get the story.” Sitting in that classroom … editing the newspaper on my lunch hour … passing out editions on publication day: those memories are the memories I have kept and will keep for the rest of my life, because they indicate the beginning of what would eventually be my career.

I don’t see schools getting rid of math classes. They’re not tossing science out the window because students aren’t interested. Sure, English classes are still hanging on. I’m happy to hear kids still have to read books and write papers. Oh, but then, back to the Blade article: “Putting out a student paper is hard work, and the paper’s editors said their peers seem to have little affinity toward the written word. Mr. Fry [journalism teacher] has trouble getting students in the British literature classes he also teaches to read the classics.”

My fear is that someday English classes will go the way of The Somethin,’ too, because in the opinion of some students, reading books and writing academic papers has no application in real life. It’s nice to spend time with your nose in a book, but reading doesn’t pay the bills. It’s nice to be able to write grammatically correct sentences, but now that phrases like “Cll u l8r” are all the rage, who cares about the proper use of a semi-colon? Will teachers someday allow student interest to warrant all education decisions? Let’s hope not.

I am sick to hear of the final edition of the Perrysburg High School Somethin.’ I think about my Grandpa Schwind and my mom, both of whom also attended PHS and both of whom also received copies of the school newspaper every month. Just like tearing down the old half of the junior high, my hometown is relinquishing another piece of history to the abyss of irrelevance. I once viewed Perrysburg schools as a beacon of hope in a country filled with ignorance. I’m disappointed to say we’re just like everybody else.

6 thoughts on “They Killed My High School Newspaper

  1. it is Perrysburg I hate to say it because I loved growing up there, but unfortunately the best and brightest left. I went back on my 2 week leave from afghanistan and I was beside myself at how abysmal things there were looking. I had a chance to talk to some younger people and they had nothing positive to say.

  2. I have been the layout editor for the Somethin’ staff for the past two years. I joined the staff my sophomore year of high school, and I also have put hours of hard work into this newspaper, along with a wonderful staff of twelve (and the year before…only six). Though, there is one thing I must clarify. The paper did not “die” because of financial issues, or “Perrysburg destroying a piece of history.” The Somethin’ has “died” because lack of student interest, and lack of students signing up for the class. This year we have lost a number of seniors on the newspaper staff, and other staff members who cannot fit the paper into their schedules for next year. To be honest, high school students are not interested in newspaper print anymore. Everything now is on Facebook or any other social media site. The second something happens in the school or city, students know in a second because of the internet. Also the Somethin’ did not completely die, The Blade left out many details to why it is not coming back. Someday it may come back, one idea has been a online newspaper and many ideas are still in the process. The only problem is getting students to want to write for it. It is true, students can be lazy. Although there are students who love to write and who have a passion for it, like myself. (And from reading your blog, like yourself too in high school.) It is just not possible for a school newspaper to survive with only three staff members. It is a tremendous amount of stress, especially if they have to write more than three articles. Our staff of only six last year was hard enough to fill a full twelve pages. It is also especially hard to get things done when students have extracurricular activities after school. Many teenagers are not as passionate about it as they were years ago, because they have other things going on in their life. It is not Perrysburg’s fault or the schools for the Somethin’ not returning next year. They cannot force students to write for a newspaper. It is very sad it will not be coming back next year. I am just upset as you are, because of all the hard work my staff and I have put into it, also for how long it has been around. Hopefully it will come back in a few years, but for now you’ll just have to know that you contributed to a piece of Perrysburg history, and that your name and hard work will always be in print.

    • Sam, I’m so happy to hear from a current staff member. I’m very much hoping that the school will keep an online version going to perpetuate some kind of pure writing activity at PHS. Maybe students will be more interested in somethin’ (pun intended) online, just like Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’m glad you wrote me a note, because it’s nice to hear there are still students back in the ‘burg who like to write. Keep writing in college, please. We need people like you and your brave fellow staff members.

  3. Thanks Sara for this post. I was on the journalism staff and yearbook staff for 1980 and 1981. We published a quality newspaper that was always in competition as one of the top school papers in Ohio. Thank you Sam for the hard work you have put in during these past couple of years to make The Somethin – something special! I hated English as a kid – my plan for my 4 English credits was English I and II, Speach, Basic Drama, Basic Journalism, and Yearbook … graduate and away I go. I ended up with 8 English credits because I found a love for writing and a love for reading. Journalism helped to fund my college, nearly got me press box seats to World Series games (Braves choked that year), and I had free admission to all kinds of events for about 8 years with my press pass. Thank You PHS for offering Journalism when I was a student.

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