Edmonds School Board recognizes MTHS student newspaper, considers uniforms policy

By Eileen Kelliher

The Hawkeye, Mountlake Terrace High School’s newspaper, and its expansion into online journalism, were front and center at the Edmonds School Board meeting earlier this week. The Hawkeye received The National Pacemaker Award from the National Scholastic Press Association in San Francisco in late April, which is “equal to the Pulitzer,” according to journalism advisor Vince DeMiero who is in his 25th year at the school.

The veteran teacher credited the successful online expansion to a three-way arrangement with the his program, the high school’s broadcasting program advised by Angelo Comeaux, and MLTNews, part of My Neighborhood News Network (as is Lynnwood Today).  Students have been able to live broadcast more than 50 high school sporting events. And given the success of MTHS sports teams this year, DeMiero said, “We picked a heck of a year for (the live coverage).” The advisor commented that as far as he knows, there is nothing like this arrangement in the state and it made The Hawkeye’s web presence unique at the convention. MLTNews finds sponsors and underwriters for the students’ efforts, and also donates a portion of the proceeds back to the school’s sports booster clubs and the journalism and broadcast programs.

With his students’ help, DeMiero demonstrated to the board from “behind the curtain” how the online news is produced by many student contributors. He stated the trend will be to emphasize the online version while the print version becomes secondary. Their reporting generates a lot of activity on Twitter and they have readers as far away as the Philippines.

The Hawkeye parent booster present at the meeting expressed the desire that students with limited funds be able to attend state and national conventions in coming years as they are great learning opportunities. DeMiero said he would hate to see extra-curricular activities like The Hawkeye only available to those who could pay to participate, and he thanked the Edmonds School Board and his school’s administration for their continued support.

Board Chairman Ann McMurray closed the report by noting that “The Hawkeye has a reputation for absolute excellence in the realm of journalism,” adding that she believes students will lead the way in transitioning to new media.

Also during the May 28th meeting:

– Theresa Jaramillo, coordinator for the YMCA’s Minority Achiever Program (MAP) at College Place Middle School reported to the board that she thinks the program in its second year went very well and that she sees growth and maturity in her students. MAP seeks to encourage minority and immigrant students to aim for college by providing homework help, a safe place to be after school, and mentoring.

Jaramillo explained to the board that she recruits students at the fall Open House, counselors recommend candidates, and some of her most committed participants go out and recruit their friends. She praised Edmonds Community College (EdCC) for allowing her students to shadow college students at the school and for sending over college students to mentor and tutor. EdCC invited the MAP students come over to take a printmaking class and to sign a mural all in the effort to nurture the desire to attend college. The MAP coordinator would love to see this program at the high school level as it would be a natural progression for the eighth graders leaving her influence, but that would require the involvement of the greater Seattle YMCA she explained.

– The board discussed whether to pass, after a second reading, a district dress code revision so that schools could have the option to adopt student uniforms. The motion was tabled until the next meeting so that board member Diane White could talk to those who wrote the revision, to pinpoint what level of school/parent/student input is required before uniforms are adopted. She would like to see a high threshold and that is not currently articulated in the policy.

White said she feels that even though it is hypothetical at this point, it is a controversial topic and she would want board policy clearly spelled out.  Superintendent Nick Brossoit explained that only Cedar Valley and College Place inquired into this at the start of the year.  The schools’ concern is to take away some of the pressure on students to dress beyond their families’ financial means, the superintendent said, adding that the two schools also want to have the students concentrate on their studies more than their clothing and to build community. The Citizen’s Planning Committee (CPC) recommended the wording to the administration during the course of this school year.  “I don’t think anyone is lined up behind this one right now,” said Brossoit.  He also elaborated that it would not be a strict uniform code, but more along the lines of a “class of clothing.” When the board consulted the high school student advisors present at the meeting, they expressed support for the uniforms, stating that it is easier for parents and more affordable.

– Hilltop, Martha Lake, Spruce Elementary will all receive pedestrian and traffic safety improvements from Interwest Construction Inc. after the board awarded the contracts via single readings. Interwest was the lowest responsive bidder meeting specifications.

– Board member White announced that the Hazel Miller Foundation will continue its financial support for another year of high school after-school academic programs and will join with the Edmonds Public Schools Foundation in supporting a new algebra enhancement program.

As she awarded the high school student advisors certificates and cards on their last night at a board meeting, McMurray complimented them for having been “wonderful, interactive, and interesting” and encouraged them to get involved as adults in their communities. Brossoit seconded that, saying that “you don’t have to be an expert” to make a contribution. Board member Gary Noble called the students a great crew who posed a lot of good questions. He said they were troopers and only regretted they stayed so late some nights that they probably didn’t get their homework done.

The board next meets at 6:30 p.m. June 11 at the Educational Services Center, 20420 68th Ave. W., Lynnwood.

KelliherSchool board contributing writer Eileen Kelliher served as a parent volunteer while her three children went through Seaview Elementary, Meadowdale Middle School, and Edmonds-Woodway High School.  She works occasionally as a substitute classified employee for the Edmonds School District. www.linkedin.com/in/eileenmkelliher/

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