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High school publications capture student interest

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A student enters Carrboro High School on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022.

About a year ago, Lillian Brumback, the founder and president of the high school student-led magazine The Jaguar Athenaeum, recognized a gap in Carrboro’s art scene. 

Brumback said many talented student artists were isolated within their respective mediums, unaware of each other’s presence. This year, Brumback launched The Jaguar Athenaeum, a platform to unite young artists and provide opportunities for those who lack resources or representation. 

The Jaguar Athenaeum, based out of Carrboro High School, was originally created as Brumback’s Gold Award Girl Scout project.

Brumback assembled a team of other students to compile professional resources for their peers, from scholarship information to guidance in fields such as performing arts or literature. 

The first issue features articles about networking, the psychology of color and choosing a job in the theater. Brumback said the mission is to equip students with skills for their college and career development. 

While this issue is specific to Carrboro’s art communities, Brumback said that they plan to gradually expand content, encompassing broader elements accessible to neighboring schools. 

“We're encouraging [other schools] to make their own and to spread that idea of all the experiences we are each learning,” Brumback said. 

At East Chapel Hill High School, the East Chapel Hill Observer is providing high school students with opportunities in writing and reporting. The newspaper is published by students in a journalism class.

ECHO co-Editor-in-Chief Avery Tortora initially had no intention of joining the class, but was referred by her tenth-grade English teacher. She said it became her favorite class because of its collaborative and creative work

“It's taught me a lot about how to talk, speak to people, general social skills and speak for people as well — like giving them a voice,” Tortora said.

Tortora said she aims to maintain objectivity and appropriateness as a reporter for ECHO, especially when covering controversial topics.

Opinion and sports editor Jordan Huang said the paper covers both national and local issues, with an emphasis on angling stories toward the student body at ECHHS. 

ECHO became a significant part of Tortora’s life.

“It's everything to me,” she said.  “And I think it's because of the relationships I've forged in it and because of it. It's such a collaborative class and it's really about people on people. And you don't get that in a lot of other classes.” 

Chapel Hill High School also has journalism classes that help students obtain writing and reporting skills. Work from the classes is compiled into the school’s newspaper, The Proconian

Writer Oleksiy Fitel said he had no experience in writing news articles two years ago when he joined the class and had to adjust to a different writing style. 

Through his time at The Proconian, Fitel said he not only learned how to craft proper news stories, but write feature articles profiling individuals at school. He said writing features helped him participate in deep conversations, move beyond impersonal facts and write more engaging pieces. 

Lila Philpot, another writer, said the class connects students to one another and the school overall.

“One of the reasons it's very special to me is because it's a small class and we're able to connect, not only with each other more, but also with the school a lot more than you normally would,” Philpot said

Writer Reagan Martz said the class gives her a reason to go talk to people that she normally wouldn’t talk to. 

Stephen Head, the advisor of the class, said students have had opportunities to talk to NFL athletes, published authors and Nobel Prize winners, and even visited Hollywood sets during his time teaching. 

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“I always tell them they should shoot for the moon," Head said. "And there's really not a limit that a high school paper can do, so much as what they limit themselves to."

Charlene Wu contributed reporting.

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