When the staff members of Pasadena High School’s student newspaper were notified that the school was closing down its student store earlier this year, they were quick to take action. A writer was assigned to gather the information—the basic who, what, where, when, and why—and in doing so, she discovered the impact of such a closure: a funding source that benefited many students had been severed.
“Different clubs and organizations on campus work there during the week, so they could make up to $300 working there,” said Sophia Kownatzi, the editor-in-chief of the Chronicle. “It’s one of the best and easiest fundraisers for clubs on campus, and now that’s gone. And with the water shortage, car washes weren’t allowed either.”
The Chronicle is running an ongoing investigation on the confusing issue, from researching district legislation to probing higher-ups for their viewpoints. It’s an effort that might go well into May, just a couple months shy of high school graduation.
When Kenneth Fuessle Shirley Owen and gang first started the PHS Chronicle, they started a legacy. And to think, their biggest concerns at the time were bolstering subscriptions so that their paper would survive to the next issue. Today, the Chronicle at PHS continues the legacy, celebrating its shared 100th anniversary with the Courier by providing their school campus with news.
“We make sure to cover important events on campus, and do our best to inform students about any major changes that happen,” Kownatzi said.
The Chronicle went through various name changes – from PHS Chronicle to PCC Chronicle — before ultimately landing on simply the Courier, when the school changed its name in the early 50s. The Courier was tasked with covering the college campus’ news, but the high school counterpart, the Chronicle, refused to die. Pasadena High School picked up its name and continued its duties.
“PHS’s newspaper, the Chronicle, is a monthly issue published by a group of 10th through 12th grade students at the school,” Kownatzki said. “Basically, each issue comes out approximately every month to about a month and a half. They’re based on themes and seasons. Our favorites include the Valentines Day, April fools and Thanksgiving issues. We as a staff brainstorm article ideas together every other week.”
Kownatzki said that this year, the Chronicle has a staff of 20 writers, designers and photographers. She said that they have six graphic designers, most of whom are part of Graphic Communications Academy (GCA), who compile everything into the magazine format instead of being more of a tabloid or broadsheet-like newspaper.
“Our advisor, Mr. Van Leuven—we call him the über editor—goes through the copy to approve before we give it to the GCA to print,” Kownatzki said. “It’s incredibly convenient because the GCA print shop takes care of stapling and printing for us and they’re literally across the halls!”
According to Kownatzki, the change from newspaper to magazine was an easy and convenient one, mainly because the GCA print shop was already working with the same paper for their projects.
“The magazine format is, at least in my opinion, an interesting way to blend in classic, newspaper-style articles while still allowing entertaining, creative ways to capture our reader’s attention,” she said. “Design-wise, newspapers are more restrictive, whereas magazine style allows for more experimentation. It’s easier to read, convenient to print, and much more enjoyable to design.”
Entertainment section editor Serenah Truong said that most of the students in the program had been working together on the paper since starting at PHS and that made it easy to work with each other. Additionally, many of the Chronicle staff are in a short advisory class every morning, and also have a designated second period class in which they get together.
“The atmosphere is very casual, friendly, and lively,” said Truong. “As an editor of the entertainment section, it’s so nice to be able to meet with my section writers and discuss new ideas for the upcoming issue without feeling like I have to assign them a topic they may not want to cover.”
According to Kownatzki, the paper is divided into four basic sections: News/Opinion, Sports, Student Life, Entertainment. She said that the section editors check in with the writers in their sections, do any basic editing needed and then send it to the graphic designers and her for final approval.
Truong said that she, like the other section editors at the Chronicle, meets with their writers a few weeks before each issue comes out to discuss ideas for the pending issue.
“Thankfully, our staff consists of dedicated students who come up with authentic ideas for each and every issue,” Truong said. “When I meet with my section I usually have a few ideas on what we have to cover and I let my writers choose their topic or come up with their own.”
Kownatzki said that she was optimistic about the future of the Chronicle and that with the help from the adviser and other teachers, the paper would be in good shape.
“We have such a strong support group here that not only to helps put out each issue of The Chronicle, but also to teach the younger staffers the skills they’ll need when they become editors next year,” she said. “It’ll be nice to see what they continue to write about when I’m gone.”