When Aubrey students in Michelle Rasure’s journalism class first joined, they didn’t really know what to think because this was the first year a journalism class became available as an elective.
After a couple of months in, the class has opened their eyes to the world around them.
“This class makes you think about other things that are going on that you wouldn’t normally think about,” freshman Morgan Place said. “A while back, I did a story on earthquakes in Italy and if I didn’t write that story I never would’ve known how that earthquake impacted that country.”
Rasure said the purpose of the class is to “teach students to write with a purpose and with a specific audience in mind.”
The class is split into two sections. Four students – Connor Mercereau, Amelia Droddy, Taylor Tate and Morgan Freestone – operate the school’s online newspaper, Chaps Crossing. The rest of the class – Place, Emily Lowe, Hannah Johnson, Meghan Schilling and Keeli Dehtan – spend their time preparing for UIL academic competitions where they have 45 minutes to write news, feature, editorial or headline stories.
“If you think that sporting events are competitive, you should see a room full of writers silently competing to place with their timed piece,” Rasure said.
Rasure approaches her UIL students with an old school mentality; students use paper and pencil to write their stories instead of computers.
“Your phone autocorrects wrong words and puts the right word in there for you,” Schilling said. “This class helps you learn how to spell it right and make sure you’re using the right punctuation.”
“These kids are a part of an instant gratification generation where their heads are stuck in their phones,” Rasure said. “They can get away with texting misspelled words, but in this class you can’t do that. A lot of their training has come with them spell checking themselves.”
Lowe explained the difference between stories written in this class compared to English class.
“We’re trained our whole life to write an introduction, a three-body paragraph with a conclusion, and this is just completely different,” Lowe said. “We have to follow different formulas for each story.”
Johnson talked about how hard it was to cut out extra details.
“I’m really dramatic and I tend to make things bigger than they’re supposed to be,” Johnson said as she laughed. “In this class you have to be precise and to the point, and that’s really hard.”
Dehtan thinks that this class is helping her decide on what she wants to do in the future.
“When I was little, I had a huge dream to become a big-time writer,” Dehtan said. “I would write short stories and my mom would keep them in a booklet. I had a new booklet to write in every week. This class has helped me figure out what I want to do.”
Freestone, an out-of-town transfer, said Aubrey is the first school to have a class like this.
“I love writing,” Freestone said. “They didn’t have this at any other school I’ve been to.”
Mersereau said the class allows her to express herself in a scholarly way.
“I can put my opinion into an educated format,” she said. “If something happens I know how to express my thoughts in an informative, unbiased way instead of going on a crazy rant.”