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Utah town to receive community newspaper thanks to high school student journalists

Posted at 6:37 PM, Oct 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-24 20:37:30-04

KEARNS, Utah — A group of student journalists in Kearns is looking for funding to expand their student-run newspaper — providing the community with its own paper.

“Me, personally, I would focus more on Utah,” one girl said to another.

“So, we’ve got the primaries going on,” another said as she jotted down notes.

It’s all of the sounds you would typically hear in a newsroom.

“We could do clothing drives, we could do food drives, and a lot of things that help families,” another said as their group brainstormed.

Behind the ideas, pens, papers and screens — you won’t find a group of adults, but high school students.

“If we didn’t have news, we would be uninformed and in the dark — news is one of the most important things that we use, as people, to communicate,” said Maddy Littleford, a senior and Editor in Chief for the Kearns High School newspaper.

Every year, student journalists work to provide near-monthly issues of The Cougar Claw.

“They run the entire thing, they come up with their own stories, they run their own photography, they do their own editing and design,” said Kathryn Wilkins, Kearns High’s Journalism teacher and program advisor.

The eight-page paper covers everything from news and sports, to student life and community issues.

“Community stories is really where we’re trying to focus right now,” Wilkins said as she flipped through the pages of the newspaper.

The students produce eight issues a school year, copies are given out to all of the students and posted to their online publication which is open to subscribers.

“We have covered a lot of community and bigger events that affect more than just our high school,” Littleford said.

Wilkins said about 500 community members outside of the high school pay for subscriptions.

But, as a whole, when it comes to Kearns-centric news, they don’t have any options.

“The community definitely needs a newspaper, we do not have one,” Wilkins said. “They [the community] are interested in it, and I think they’re hungry for it.”

“I think it’s a bit disconcerting because news matters, we need to be informed of what’s happening in our community,” said Littleford.

So, they had an idea. What if they could take their work and go beyond the classroom?

“We would have eight issues that would go out into the community, basically once every month during the school year,” Littleford said.

“I think we need an additional source of information and students, they’re well aware of what’s going on in the community,” said Wilkins.

Already, the school has been in contact with different community organizations, places like senior and community centers, grocery stores and areas open to the general public — looking for places papers could be delivered to expand their coverage.

“We’d love to see them in newsstands around town,” said community member Becky Guertler. “It shows some pride in the community, it kind of joins those groups together that are working in the community.”

Kearns High believes this will be a way to impact the community, while continuing to grow their program and support the future of journalism.

“It’s very unique and I think it’s going to be a powerful thing for students to be able to publish, not just within the school, but within the community,” Wilkins said.

The students believe they are up to the task.

“With how our stories are and how centralized they are, we can affect our community,” said Littleford. “Even though we’re students, we’re 100-percent waiting and willing to go out into our Kearns community and write any news story that we think will interest and impact our community.”

Now, they hope the community will show some generosity to make their dream a reality. A fundraising page has been started to cover costs associated with printing and postage. You can find it HERE.