Lina Hischer interviews Andrew Beierly for her story “The Skagway Time Machine.” PHOTO BY LENNON JENNINGS/SKAGWAY SCHOOL SENTINEL

Student newspaper publishes first issue in October


The Skagway School District has a student newspaper again: The Skagway School Sentinel.

The students behind the Sentinel, which published its first issue in mid-October, began meeting in August of this year. Ranging from grade four through high school, the students have been honing artistic talent with drawing, taking photos and writing articles over sports, teachers and other school clubs.

The idea for a newspaper club arose when fourth-grader Lina Hischer was trying to figure out which activities she wanted to engage in for the then-upcoming school year.

She talked with her parents about what she might want to do and John Hischer, School Board president and Lina’s father, said she’d talked about enjoying writing, reading and learning about interesting people.

Since the school’s former paper, The Trailblazer, lay long-dormant, John Hischer spoke with Superintendent Dr. Josh Coughran about the steps needed to start the club, and reached out to Skagway teacher Rebecca Sullivan and The Skagway News editor Dan Fox, to see if they would be interested in becoming advisors for the club.

When both Fox and Sullivan professed interest in the endeavor, the club officially got its start near the beginning of the school year.

The students’ first paper was printed at the school in October, and featured stories about junior high cross-country, interviews with alumni from the Skagway school and a fair number photos displaying different parts of Skagway. Students have also covered School Board meetings, and researched fun facts on Alaskan animals and plants.

John Hischer said he thinks it’s good for students to get more experience writing, and to learn how to be good consumers of media as well.

“It’s neat to see them taking an interest in the community and how the school is run and just the people around them,” Hischer said. “I think it’s great, we value academics at the school, and this is a part of it, [an] extension of that, of just being good learners and being curious about the world.”

Already the students are working on material for their next issue; the paper is planned to be released quarterly, and the club has its eye on December for the next issue’s release date.

“For the age range and the amount of kids we have participating I think they did a really good job, especially on the first [paper],” Sullivan said. “I think we have an interesting group that is diverse in what they want to do, and I think it’s going to slowly progress and get better and better.”

Sullivan said she hopes the students can continue to practice and work on the skills that interest them. Getting the students familiar with the digital elements of newspaper production and media, such as YouTube videos and websites, is another area to potentially explore.

“As we keep going forward, I hope that it blossoms into that, and they get that outlet of expression, skill and practice as well,” Sullivan said.