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South Meck student reviving newspaper online

Journalism class not offered; news hounds push ahead

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For Alton Peques, 15, school was at one time all about math. Until now.

The South Mecklenburg High School sophomore began to notice subtle differences in his school work.

“As I grew older, I began entering writing competitions, I began a blog and I anchored my school’s broadcast team,” he said. “I watched my writing and speech skills develop. Not until recently did I notice that I had talent in the field, and working on reviving South Meck’s newspaper has reassured my interest.”

Peques’ skills were noticed by Leslie Goldfarb, an active South Meck parent, who approached him about serving as editor-in-chief and reviving the school’s old print newspaper, taking the Sabre Sentinel online.

Because there are no English electives at the school except yearbook class, the project would need to be an after-school club.

English teacher Kimberly Hunniford agreed to serve as the advisor.

“Every year I have students ask me why we don’t have a journalism class,” said Hunniford, who has taught at South Meck for four years. “I’ve asked to teach journalism, but because of cutbacks, journalism has not been offered at South Meck since I’ve been here. We have a core group of students who are excited about journalism and starting our online newspaper. We hope this core group of students will get others excited about journalism, so that the online newspaper will grow and that journalism will be offered as a class at South Meck again.”

Peques and about nine other students are resurrecting the newspaper as an online version using Word Press, updating it weekly and hopefully combining the month’s top stories into a printable file distributed to the student body at no cost every month.

Peques, who lives in Pineville, is encouraged and said he thinks it’s essential for every school to have a school newspaper.

“A school newspaper gives students a voice and affords them the opportunity to play a significant role in their school’s community,” he said. “A paper that is executed the right way can spur healthy news-related conversations – school and non-school related – amongst a student body. With a school newspaper, we’re able to increase school unity and togetherness in an engaging way. Ultimately our goal as The Sabre Sentinel is to create an overall news awareness in our students that will carry on with them forever.”

To make the Sabre Sentinel a reality, the service club will work during non-school hours to gather news, features, editorials, sports, student, teacher and alumni stories as well as photographs they take themselves.

Peques said they are just taking the first steps to make the project a reality in two to three weeks.

“Throughout each month current news will be available via our website, www.thesabresentinel.com, and our Twitter handle, @SabreSentinel,” he said. “We are in the beginning stages as of now but we realize our potential and that the possibilities are endless.”

Hunniford is thrilled with the idea of a school e-newspaper.

“Writing has been a huge part of my life, and I really enjoy sharing this love with students,” she said. “I also love the idea of students, parents, staff, and alumni having a common source for information about South Meck, whether it be news, alumni updates, PTA events, sporting events, concerts and plays.”

The teacher also has faith in the paper’s new editor.

“I have a great amount of admiration and respect for Alton. He is a talented writer, he has a tremendous work ethic, he is creative, he works well with a variety of people, and has an insatiable curiosity for news and the world around him,” she said. “He has an infectious personality and is well-liked, yet he is humble and grounded.”

Peques is ready to take his interest even further as a journalism major in college, and hopes to one day become a broadcast journalist.

“I think having an active school newspaper will give my peers the outlet they’re searching for,” he said. “An outlet for information, recognition, and most importantly self-expression is what students crave. A school newspaper can satisfy that need.”

Conroy: 704-358-5353; Twitter: ConroyKathleen
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