ALC class has nose for news

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Area Learning Center (ALC) students are delving into a different form of language arts this year with the launch of their new newspaper, Alternative Times.

About 30 juniors and seniors in Shirley Morgan’s language arts class write news stories, features and editorials and take pictures for the publication, which was published four times this school year.

“They volunteer to take stories,” Morgan said. “We take time in our language arts class.”

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ALC students voted on a name for the newspaper. Their fourth and last issue of Alternative Times is 12 pages, which is encouraging, Morgan said. It was printed in the Austin High School graphics department and about 150 copies will be available this week throughout the ALC.

Morgan started the newspaper last fall to give students an outlet for other forms of writing and to instill in them her passion for journalism.

“I have a journalism background,” said Morgan, a freelancer writer. “I encourage it because I love journalism. It’s a very practical way for students to show a talent.

“I think that the kids bought into it, and that is the most important,” she said. “This enables them to look at themselves differently.”

Story topics have ranged from snowboarding to college funding to an interview with their new assistant principal, Jason Senne. Morgan and ALC art teacher Jake Levisen currently paginate most of the newspaper.

Morgan teaches her class about journalism ethics and legalities in addition to the required language arts education. They critique local newspapers as well as the AHS newspaper, The Sentinel.

“We’re just getting them to be critical readers at this point,” Morgan said. “We don’t want to create hostility.”

She said the Alternative Times is “still evolving,” but that it is embraced by most students once they try gathering story ideas and writing.

Morgan said one of her students, Josh Underdahl, hates language arts, but “has turned into one of the best journalism students I have.”