Young Voices is expected to go to print on August 13, 2007. In preparation for that day, a lot has been going on in our offices downtown Waterbury. We've recently purchased a new computer through a technology grant we received from the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, and we've borrowed a few laptops so that we have enough computers for our young reporters to process their stories.
Some of our older computers, many of which date back at least 20 years, have been holding up and we've only had one system completely crash due to the stress. Every available outlet has been used this week, and the staff are either working at a computer, off taking pictures or reviewing each others work.
Today was the first draft due date for most stories. The stories look really good. Next week the staff of Young Voices will work on finalizing their stories and doing last minute interviews.
The staff have also been working on bringing in more sponsors to help underwrite the production, and salary of three of the staffers.
Below you can find a sampling of some of the stories, and some pictures from our busy newsroom.
From a story about the absence policy:
“There are 1,606 students that will have to repeat a grade after missing more that 18 days of school. Baffled at the amount of students being left back, the school board and school officials are now left trying to figure how to solve this problem … The numbers of students held back add up to 1224 in 1998-1999, 1435 in 1999-2000, 1374 in 2000-2001, 615 in 2001-2002, 1030 in 2002-2003, and 955 in 2003-2004.”
From a story about the dress code:
“Ten years ago, thousands of students’ lives were drastically changed. The Board of Education began to enforce a uniform and dress code policy for all Waterbury public schools. The dress code policy was established to create a better and safer environment for students. According to Roger Damerow, the former Superintendent of schools, the dress code helps kids concentrate on their schoolwork.”
From a story about dropouts and what they’re doing:
“He said if he would of stayed in school he probably would of tried to be a baseball player, a boxer, or a fireman. He regrets leaving school and doesn’t know if he wants to go back. He does admit that he is very happy the way his life turned out.”
From a story about local rapper and motivational speaker “Picasso”:
“The songs on this album talk about his experiences and send a message to inner city youth that problems can't be solved by violence. Like in his song "A Mother's Cry" which talks about how the way he was living his life didn't only affect him but the people around him. In his song "Back 2 Class" he says that dropping out of school is suicide. The song tells kids to stay in school because education is important in order to gain success in life.”
From a story looking at districts without dress code
“Freedom! Is this what it is like going to a school with a non strict dress code? If we step outside of the Waterbury school district you will find schools with little rules and more freedom. These schools show that a school can actually function without a dress code. What makes us so different?”
From a story about a youth web design program
“When you think of a summer job, what do you think of? Picking up garbage? Sweeping floors? Well, what about web design? It's a job that allows you to have fun while learning new skills. In this new program, Technology Web Design, participants learn how to make powerpoint presentations and promote buisnesses through designing web pages. Web designing is about being creative and making your own page. Instead of sitting at home and doing nothing, a group of eleven kids were chosen to be in a program that will educate them further in life.”