MANATEE — The Macohi, Manatee High School’s student newspaper, has been around for almost 100 years.
But arguably no school year during the past century will be as meaningful for the staff than 2010-11.
Manatee High is one of just four schools nationwide to receive a Student/Newspaper Partnership Grant from the Newspaper Association of America Foundation.
“I didn’t know that only four papers would be selected,” said Erica Weiffenbach, Macohi adviser. “Which was probably for the best. I just knew that we really wanted to win the grant.”
In addition to the $5,000 in funding the program will receive this year, the grants establish mentoring relationships between the chosen high schools and their local newspapers. The Macohi staff is being assisted this school year by the Bradenton Herald.
Herald staff members will give monthly talks to Macohi students and will help edit stories for the student paper. At the end of the school year, the students will tour the Herald.
Manatee High School will also kick off the Herald’s Journalism Next series. The stories are written by local high school journalism students. You’ll find the first in the weekly series Monday’s Local cover.
“The students love to see their names in print,” Weiffenbach said. “It’s tangible evidence that they’ve accomplished something.”
Zach Evans, Macohi editor-in-chief and Manatee High senior, is strongly considering a career in journalism.
“If I can tell colleges that I worked with the Bradenton Herald, that would make me seem more serious than other students,” Evans said. “The early start working with the paper will help me gain experience and get a jump-start on my career.”
The students are thrilled about more than just the partnership. The grant also allows the school to buy new technology for the paper, including cameras and a printer/photocopier. It also will help pay for printing costs.
“Before the grant, all of our energy was poured into getting advertising,” Evans said. “The grant will help us focus on improving the paper and our writing quality.”
In her grant application, Weiffenbach wrote that she wanted students, parents and the community to seek out the Macohi each time a new issue hits the stands.
“If a student newspaper is done right,” she wrote, “it functions the way other newspapers do: It creates a public forum. Students will care more about what happens or is happening at their school. Simply put, they participate.”
Jaina Patel, Macohi news editor, is looking forward to the year.
“Teachers have stopped me to say how great the Macohi looks,” she said. “I’ve already learned so much.”
The other schools selected for the grant were John F. Kennedy High School, Silver Spring, Md.; Washington High School, Tacoma, Wash.; and Will Rogers High School, Tulsa, Okla.