Keeping watch of student perspectives

Our perspective on why student journalism matters 

Keeping+watch+of+student+perspectives

Julia Gray and Matthew Chen

The first few weeks of school are always full of novelty—new classes, new teachers, and new classmates. This year, we had the additional experience of adapting to a new pass system, e-hallpass. 

When we read the Daily Times’ September 13 front-page story on the new system, titled “Keeping Watch,” we couldn’t help but notice the problems. 

The article began with a lede that outlined vaping misconduct in bathrooms. 

“For over 50 years, ‘smoking in the boys’ room’ has been the spirit of student rebellion,” wrote Pete Bannan, a reporter for the Daily Times. “In the age of vaping and social-media-enhanced shenanigans, unsupervised students remain an issue for school administrators.” 

It’s our job to represent and convey the voice of the student body, and we are taking it seriously. ”

Following an explanation of the pass system, drawn from a video on the Eduspire’s website, the reporter cited the comments of unattributed parents from a Wallingford Community Facebook forum—a journalistic faux pas that we teach our staff writers to avoid. 

Quoted in Bannan’s story, one unnamed Facebook parent said, “Vaping is a problem in bathrooms, but a digital pass won’t fix it.”

Another unnamed Facebook parent said, “They literally rip the soap/paper towel dispensers off the walls. There have been bottles of Fireball (alcohol) found in the trash cans, feminine products stuck all over. This is both middle and high… My elementary (school) likes to smear (poop emoji) on toilet handles.”

The only comment from the school or district on e-hallpass was from Communications and Community Relations Liaison Ms. Lindsey Norwood, an administrator from the district office who has no direct day-to-day experience with e-hallpass. “Norwood, who is new to the district, is not aware of any vaping or vandalism issue in the high school,” Bannan reported.

Here lies the main problem of the Daily Times article, and plenty of the other news coverage on education: a lack of student perspective on a clear student issue. 

Although fantastic resources to use in conjunction with students’ voices, an adult-only perspective on a new school policy—or, according to Norwood’s comment to the Daily Times, not a policy but a “procedural change”—is an unfinished story. 

As student journalists working on a school’s newspaper, we have the opportunity to finish this story and so many others by talking to students about the issues that matter to them. 

In our e-hallpass story, published online on Sept. 28, the day after e-hallpass was officially implemented, we interviewed students and Assistant Principal Mrs. Tabatha Duffy about the system. We also shared a video created by students on how the system actually works. In this issue, you will read about a student survey on the system. Compared to the Daily Times article, our pieces cut out the middleman of parent speculation and went straight to sources impacted by the change to gather information. 

This is why student journalism matters. 

It’s our job to represent and convey the voice of the student body, and we are taking it seriously. 

Our school is swarming with talented students, interesting faculty, and, yes, sometimes controversy. We can cover it in a way that reporters at the Daily Times cannot. We have special access to the student body, something that you can’t get with a press pass, and a perspective that you can’t see with an outside eye. 

The Panther Press is brewing with budding journalists who want to tell the actual story of our diverse student body. So this is our call to action: If you have a perspective to share, an idea for a story, or a desire to promote other students’ voices—join the Panther Press.

Your opinions matter. Your thoughts should have influence. And everyone has a story.