Malibu High School’s awarding-winning student newspaper, The Current, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary issue this week, with a brand new redesign and four, full-color pages.
The Current, founded in December 1995 by school advisor Pat Honey, reaches 1,000 Malibu High School students and is entirely self-funded.
English teacher David Warshawski has headed Malibu’s journalism program and advised the paper’s student journalists for the past six years.
“I take particular pride in the growth of the journalism program and the paper, ” Warshawski said. “The stories that we cover show that we’ve made it a point to not shy away from any issue that is newsworthy. We’ve received a lot of local and national press. We’ve won three awards, two for story writing and one for photo journalism at the Los Angeles Times student journalism awards in the last two years.”
In addition to the awards Warshawski lists, The Current has placed first in its category at the American Scholastic Press Awards Association four years running.
“I am in awe of the effort and dedication so many students put into journalism,” Warshawski said in an interview at Malibu High School’s journalism room Thursday, where The Current’s editors, on deadline, were scrambling to complete it on time.
The first issue of The Current in 1995 consisted of just four pages. When Warshawski took over the helm in 1999, after three years of teaching high school journalism in the Bronx, The Current was an eight-page paper that was printed five times a year. Today, the paper has 16 pages and is printed monthly, 10 times a year.
“That’s a testament to the hard work of my students,” Warshawski said. “This is more than just a class. We are gatekeepers of the First Amendment, and I think the students are learning that.”
The Current now has 28 students on its staff and 12 page editors. It’s open to all high school students, grades nine through 12.
Editor-in-Chief Robin Yang, 17, has taken charge of a complete redesign of the paper for the 10th anniversary issue. “We’re adding color for the first time,” she explained. “We want to make it more reader-friendly. We’ve always been very proud of our content and are enhancing our visual appeal.”
Warshawski has nothing but praise for Yang. “Robin’s dedication has blown me away,” he said. “She constantly bites off more than she can chew and handles it all with great grace. The other editors have fallen in line with her vision.”
“Our 10th year anniversary issue includes two interviews with past advisers, and interviews with seven out of 10 past editors in chief, some of whom went on to work on college papers. We’re also including photos of old layouts, reviews and headlines,” Yang explained about plans for the anniversary edition.
Yang has worked at The Current for three years, joining in her sophomore year. She became news editor in her second year there and was promoted to editor in chief in September.
“I wanted to redesign the paper to make it ours, because everyone else had already graduated,” she said. “We wanted smaller text and fresher headlines.”
Yang explained that these changes were inspired after she and 11 other staff members attended the National Scholastic Press Association Convention in Atlanta in November. ” We came back with loads of new ideas and traded papers with other high schools so we could decide what worked best,” she said.
“The whole experience has made me much more confident in my writing skills,” she said. “This year I have been a mentor to the new staff writers and editors and I have learned how to lead.”
Yang, who graduates in June, has applied to nine colleges to pursue an English degree. “I’ve learned that writers have to get excited and involved in their stories. Having a friendship with my writers can help get things done. I have a lot of respect for all of them,” she said.
Campus Life Editor Emmanuelle Stahler, 16, who wants to pursue a career in journalism, said, “This is the reason why I am in school. I hate to miss journalism class.
Journalism gives me the opportunity to meet new people. I’ve interviewed the sheriff’s [deputies] at [the] Sheriff’s Lost Hills [Station] and even had the opportunity to talk with Ryan Seacrest last summer on KISS-FM.”
New writer Hilary Jenson, 15, was excited about her experiences on the paper. “It’s a lot fun,” she said. “For this anniversary issue, I wrote an article about a softball player who plays all year round, and a movie review of the ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ which I didn’t like because I thought it was a pretty poor imitation of the stage performance.”
Ten students will attend a high school journalism convention in New York in March, to gain even more new ideas for The Current.
Warshawski explained that the students get a sense of ownership in the paper by funding all the costs through organizing arts and entertainment events, selling advertising and subscriptions, and managing concession stands at football games.
“We have about 300 subscribers, who include parents and community members, and we are always looking for new ways to fundraise,” Warshawski said. “I really appreciate that the Malibu community has supported and embraced us in the way that they have.”