View slideshow The Feather celebrates ten year anniversary (VIDEO)
Adviser, former staff members weigh in on milestone
Appearing online in 2001, The Feather staff has attempted to build a daily publication based off of journalistic integrity and teaching. Now the group celebrates their online paper's tenth anniversary.
This month marks the ten year anniversary of The Feather's online debut. Since appearing online in 2001, The Feather Online has been showered with recognition as National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker (NSPA) winners in 2006, 2008 and 2010, finalists in 2007 and 2009, recipients of the NSPA All-American award in 2010 and 2011 and Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Silver Crown winners in 2009 and Gold Crown winners in 2010 and 2011.
Over the years, The Feather Online has expanded from merely articles and photos to include blogs, podcasts, videos and slideshows.
In celebration of this milestone, The Feather has asked some influential voices of the past to come and share both their thoughts and personal experiences from being on the staff. There are over 150 retired staff members, and, here, four of them share their views on a decade of online journalism.
Associate Editor Eric Witters, '04
The Feather has covered a wide range of of topics. Eric Witters, 04', was a FC lifer who has always favored the subject of sports. He joined The Feather as a freshman and began combining his passion for athletics with an interest in publications.
After four years of high school journalism, Witters took his writing skills to the next level. Being a part of The Feather has helped him to achieve his goals later in life, he says.
"Due to my positive experience writing for the paper, I found that I had a passion for journalism," Witters said "That passion led me to getting a journalism degree from Fresno State."
After graduating from college, Witters attained a position as a sports reporter for the Selma Enterprise and Kingsburg Recorder.
"That passion didn't die out after my friends and I graduated; instead, it has flourished and strengthened, passed on from one class of Feather staff to the next." --Former Editor-in-Chief Anne Hierholzer, '05
From interviewing football players after Friday night games to sight-seeing in New York, Witters gained a full love for journalism from The Feather. Looking back, he counts his time in journalism as one of the most significant times in his life.
"Without my experiences writing for The Feather, I may never have known I had a passion for journalism and maybe would have missed out on some of the best experiences of my life," Witters said.
Editor-in-Chief Anne Hierholzer, '05
Former Editor-in-Chief Anne Hierholzer, '05, was another influential member of The Feather. She attributes the newspaper's success to the passion of its staff members.
"When I think about The Feather and all the accolades it's received, what strikes me most is the passion of the people behind it," Hierholzer said. "I know about this firsthand, being both the sister of a Feather Editor-in-Chief and the former Editor-in-Chief myself. Being in that position comes with a lot of responsibility, and I think The Feather has been blessed with a strong lineage of people who love the written word and who are careful to pass that love on to others."
Over the years, The Feather has been marked by students who pour great effort into their work. Many staff members have sacrificed hours to work on various jobs. According to Hierholzer, the tireless work led to rewarding results.
"After I became an editor, I remember spending my lunch hour combing through articles, working with the staff to re-write weak sections and clean up grammar," Hierholzer said. "As a result, all of us took great pride in our finished product."
Instead of burning out, the ember of passion was diligently passed down from year to year. Upperclassmen took it upon themselves to teach the younger students how to be successful journalists.
"That passion didn't die out after my friends and I graduated; instead, it has flourished and strengthened, passed on from one class of Feather staff to the next," Hierholzer said. "I think it's this tradition of dedication, from writers and editors alike, that has made The Feather such an excellent high school paper."
Webmaster Andrew Rurik, '09
For former Webmaster Andrew Rurik, '09, contributions to The Feather are still blatantly evident. Rurik had the weighty job of redesigning The Feather, which seemed near impossible at the time. Rurik felt as though Adviser Greg Stobbe was demanding too much of him, he says.
"There were many times that I was super frustrated with him [Stobbe]," Rurik said. "I wanted to throw in the towel and I wanted to tell him that he was crazy."
Despite this frustration, Rurik observed that Stobbe pushed him to levels of achievement that he had never known he had. He found strength to complete certain tasks that he never thought he was capable of.
"Stobbe's secret, as far as I can figure it out, is that he is a master of knowing how much people are capable of, not just how much they think they're capable of," Rurik said. "I thought when I was redesigning The Feather that I was capable of 'X,' and Stobbe demanded 'X' times ten thousand."
Since running online, The Feather staff has earned a number of recognitions, including two Gold Crown awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.
Rurik's efforts met results. Not only did The Feather win a Pacemaker that same year, but it also won its first
Gold Crown the following year.
All in all, Rurik looks back on his time on the staff under Stobbe with a positive attitude.
"Stobbe rocks," Rurik said. "I was blessed to learn from him and be a part of The Feather."
Adviser Greg Stobbe
While staff members come and go, one man remains. Since 1995, Stobbe has pushed students to improve their abilities as writers, photographers and journalists. Over the years, Stobbe has aimed to provide his students with the desire and determination they need to succeed.
"My hope is to instill a passion for excellence and spurn mediocrity," Stobbe said. "I enjoy students who arrive in the lab willing to change the way they think and work."
Reflecting on the last ten years, Stobbe recognizes the range of situations and personalities of his staff. Although he has faced difficulties, the positive aspects of his role stand out prominently, he says.
"For a decade, Feather staffers have critiqued their peers, grown up, celebrated together and huddled with each other when they did not reach their goals," Stobbe said. "I love advising a group of students who lead, push and encourage each other to be better than they ever dreamed they could.
"The future of The Feather Online is only as good as the students' vision for tomorrow," Stobbe added. "With as fast as media is changing -- the way news is delivered -- staffers will need to determine what level of competence they want to publish in order to keep pace with technology and educational expectations. The Feather Online can be a tool to help them integrate their learning as long as they own it and are passionate about it."
If retired staffers have any photos and stories from their past years on The Feather, the current staff encourages you to send the pictures in to be added to the slideshow.
For more information on The Feather, read the Sept. 26 article, Writers channel ideas on The Feather Blogosphere.