By Kris Leonhardt
PULASKI – The second edition of the Pulaski News heralded the success of the new high school student-run publication, stating that “there was no discouragement in proceeding with the idea of exchanging a school and community newspaper for purpose of exchanging news and views, of providing a means of advertising and of giving students an opportunity at practical journalism.”
And that is what it has been doing for the past 80 years in the Pulaski Community School District.
“Pulaski News is one of the many programs that make Pulaski special, Pulaski Journalism Instruct Amy Tubbs said. “The real-life writing gives students an opportunity to share their work with a wider audience. Interviewing people in the community makes them more aware of what’s happening around them. Besides the obvious writing skills, students are learning how to phone and have a conversation with someone they don’t know. For some students, it’s a real challenge at first to not just text or email to have a conversation.”
The publication not only gives students real-world experience, but it also fills a gap for the community they serve.
“Pulaski News has been well-supported by the Pulaski Community School District. Pulaski is near larger cities with newspapers, but we report on local stories and people that might not be covered in those papers,” Tubbs added.
This could be the reason for the paper’s longevity and its notoriety as the long-running student newspaper in the state, while other high school publications have fallen away.
However, another key to its success may be the fact that its production is worked into the school’s curriculum.
“We have Pulaski News classes. We have Pulaski News 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0, and then a lot of kids will take it as independent study so they can continue to write even if it doesn’t fit in their schedule,” said Pulaski Communications Coordinator/Pulaski News Editor-in-Chief Bob Van Enkenvoort, who also lays out the paper which publishes every two weeks.
The publication has also had a ripple effect through generations of community students.
“Originally, I started doing this because my dad was in Pulaski News, and he recommended it to me because he really, really enjoyed the class. He thought that I would have a good time,” said junior Emily Ostrowski, whose dad Seth Ostrowski took the class in 1997-98.
Freshman Ahnika Adamski, who wants to be a writer, is also following in the footsteps of her father.
“My dad took the class and he really liked it,” Adamski said of her father, Paul, who graduated in 1999. “Back then, you couldn’t take the class until you were a junior, but he had a friend who couldn’t figure out how to write about wrestling and my dad was in wrestling. She said, ‘Can you write this for me?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He wrote it and the teacher initially said, ‘Oh, you can write,’ and then he got into the class as a sophomore. He was the first person to do that.”
But, life lessons are also gleaned in this long-time staple of the community.
“They also learn how to meet deadlines,” Tubbs said. “It’s not possible to print the paper with a blank page because they didn’t finish a story. I love seeing their growth as they become more confident in the social skills and writing ability. They have pride in their work and knowing that they are part of an important tradition.”