The value of a student newspaper Anne Arundel County: Glen Burnie High revives Big Red, while Old Mill halts its paper.

November 11, 1996

IN AN ERA when some major newspapers in America are going out of business, it is welcome news to hear that the students of Glen Burnie High School have resumed publication of their own paper, Big Red.

Teacher Janet Keatts started the ball rolling last year to revive the publication. She got a positive response when she approached Oliver Wittig, the principal, for support and seed money. When David Hill took over as principal this year, he was equally enthusiastic. The first issue hit the streets last week.

A staff of 36 students will produce the paper. Its focus will be on subjects that interest students, ranging from cars to personality profiles, Ms. Keatts said. Over time, editors intend to add features and columns. They also hope to move to computerized production from their current cut-and-paste method. To cover costs, the staff will solicit advertising and charge a quarter a copy.

It is well known that the nation's general circulation newspapers have been disappearing by the dozens, but school newspapers have also had a tough go of it lately. At the same time Glen Burnie High School is bringing back its student paper, Old Mill High School has published the last copy of its Patriot Echo, at least for the time-being.

Old Mill's paper, which had been published for 20 years, is being eliminated for budget reasons. Even though Principal Stanley Stawas acknowledges that the paper is the voice of his students, he said the loss of a staff position forced his hand. He looked for one of the least popular courses to cut and it turned out to be the journalism class of 13 that produced the Patriot Echo. Mr. Stawas promises to revive the paper if enough students sign up next year for the course.

That decision is unfortunate. Student newspapers should be fixtures at all high schools. Students can use these publications to communicate among themselves and keep themselves informed about school life. Young people struggle for a "voice" in an adult world. Sometimes, a school paper makes them feel they have one. In addition, the enterprise gives students who are interested and motivated the practical experience of writing, editing and producing on deadline. All those involved in reviving Glen Burnie's Big Red deserve congratulations.

Pub Date: 11/11/96

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