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Campus newspaper’s impact beyond lab

Bella Johns | The Feather Online

While The Feather covers campus issues, the staff also publishes sports articles, including the recent boys basketball CIF Central Section DV Valley championship at Selland Arena, Feb. 28.

Beginning with five students in a closet in August 1995, to becoming a national award-winning online newspaper with over 30 students, The Feather advisor Greg Stobbe leads staffers, as they consistently overcome the odds to be nominated for various local and national awards since 2006.

Although Stobbe is the fourth advisor for The Feather, he is the longest-standing leader for the publication. An unknown Fresno Christian staff member started The Feather as a print edition in 1982, five years after Fresno Christian was established. Shortly after, Joanne Johnson then led the paper until 1993 when Molly Sargent began advising. Only two years later, Greg Stobbe took over the Feather.

Stobbe guided students from a local print edition to a nationally known daily online student newspaper. After years of building and adding plaques to his walls, Stobbe shares some personal highlights from growing The Feather, and also his challenges.  

“Over the last 23 years-or-so, I’ve been honored to be a part of a Feather transformation from print to wholly digital,” Stobbe said. “Whenever I, or co-adviser Kori Friesen, suggest ways to improve or update the way we publish, whether via words, podcast, illustrations, video or photography, The Feather staff is up for the challenge. I’m honored to be a part of such a fluid, morphing publication. I love to challenge all the students to improve and report on both local, state, national and international stories that make a difference.”

Kamryn Schultz shares her experience with The Feather Online. Schultz served as The Feather’s editor-in-chief during the 2018-’19 school year.

“I actually wasn’t going to join The Feather my freshman year,” Schultz said. “I wanted to do videography, but with a small class change up, I found myself in a lab full of writers. I was the smallest and youngest one in there. That definitely scared me. I also took criticism very hard and I was afraid my writing wouldn’t be appreciated or appealing to read. In the end though, I gained confidence in myself and my abilities.”

Feather Staff | The Feather Online

Serving Fresno Christian in an online form since 2001, The Feather Online aims to report on local , state and national news relevant to campus community. Photo Oct. 2019.

Schultz continued her journey throughout high school with The Feather. She continues sharing on how the Feather has benefitting her in college.

“Being a Feather editor was definitely a challenge,” Schultz said. “It made me realize how much work and effort it takes to lead a team and make sure everything goes smoothly and make as little errors as possible. In college, professors make you write so many papers; it’s insane. But with my knowledge from The Feather, writing papers took little to no effort, because I knew how to structure my papers and make them easy to read but also full of depth.

The Feather works in three main teams: writing, photojournalism and video journalism, partnering together to report on local or global events.

For example, the video production team produced a video focusing on the importance of teenage decisions that was embedded within a feature article: Choices: Teen pressures, substance abuse contribute to health issues, social misconceptions. Combining the article with photos, videos, infographics, podcasts and social media, it becomes a fully packaged multi-media feature.

The Feather Online publication belongs to two scholastic journalism organizations and enters yearly critiques from both. Joining Stobbe in the fall of 2013, Kori Friesen has helped lead the publication which has accumulated eight Columbia Scholastic Press Association Digital News Gold Crowns and six National Scholastic Press Association Online Pacemakers. Friesen, a professional photographer, designer, and history teacher oversees the photojournalists, video journalists and the website design.

The Feather achievements have broaden the communal reach allowing direct access to the issues of Fresno County. For instance, journalist Kyler Garza, ’21, interviewed city leaders about the current homeless crisis. 

In the following tweet, Garza interviews Mayor Lee Brand on the topic of organizations looking to help Fresno’s homelessness.

Campus alumnus Trevor York, ’12, is currently a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy stationed on a destroyer.  He drives the ship and manage the air weapons systems to track and shoot down air threats such as missiles and aircraft. He spent two years on The Feather staff.

I joined The Feather in 2010 and recall writing articles ranging from politics to fashion,” York said. “Looking back on it, I think it’s pretty wild that I was given an avenue to publish my opinions about the world despite only being 16 or 17. I don’t think I appreciated that very much at the time. Professionally, writing on a daily basis and having deadlines for those writing goals certainly set me up well for college and my current job.”

York went on to say the principles of good written communication are more important to me now than they were in high school because my job actually depends on it. The Feather was a challenging job for a high school student but compared to many jobs after school, it’s a very easy way to prepare yourself for the future.

The Feather aims to cover school events even while finding ways to connect them to issues like in this following tweet.

Current freshman Shane Phillips joined The Feather staff this year. He joined to help better develop writing skills, and said the course is challenging him beyond just academics.

“My favorite Stobbe memories are his pep talks,” Phillips said. “At the moment they begin, I feel embarrassed but when I look back on them, I really appreciate them. They have helped me with overcoming many challenges such as interviewing and writing, and I am sure there is more to come. As well as his randomness, when Stobbe makes his random noises and little acts of craziness, it really brightens my day. I am gladly a first-year Feather member.”

The longer students are in the program and develop skills, Stobbe encourages individuals to use their new tools to explore their interests and passions.

A new Instagram series, “Guess that Senior Baby”, started by 2019 alumna Kaylie Clem, ’19, and continued this year by Annabelle Messer, engages the student body by guessing the senior pictured as a baby and revealing the student’s name at the end of the day on an Instagram story.

While The Feather aims to cater to campus events and FCS community, the readership and content reaches far outside campus lines, so even new students have something to contribute to the publication.

Sophomore Bella Johns is one of Friesen’s six photojournalists. This is Johns’ first-year attending Fresno Christian and photographing for The Feather.

“The Feather has positively impacted me by giving me so many opportunities to further my photography and writing skills,” Johns said. “I’ve gotten to take photos on- and off campus about things going on in Fresno. One of my favorite memories is when the photojournalism team created photo inspiration boards from old magazines to help inspire different photography poses, style and creativity.”

Paige Provost | The Feather Online

The campus choral department sponsored and performed the 5th annual Valentines Concert: ‘On a Night Like This’, Feb. 15.

Following in her sisters footsteps, Addison Schultz takes on the role of editor-in-chief as a junior this year. Schultz shares her experience and reasons why she remains a Feather staffer. 

“When I joined The Feather as a freshman, I mostly did it because my sister Kamryn was in it,” Schultz said. “I didn’t really have many plans for myself and just thought I’d try it out. However, I found out I really liked having a responsibility that contributed to a team and saw my writing really begin to improve. As I would write news articles, I saw the ability to write fast, play with words and produce material in a week quicker in my other classes. As I look back on my high school career, I don’t know if I would have done nearly as well as I have without the skill sets I acquired in The Feather lab.”

Interviewing various local and national leaders, Schultz appreciates the opportunities The Feather allows her. Schultz continues sharing on her experiences as a Feather journalist. 

“I have had so many opportunities outside of the lab to interview people and ultimately benefit my community,” Schultz said. “I’ve met and interviewed the Mayor of Clovis and Fresno, a 96-year-old WWII veteran, John Walsh, Michael Pollan, activists in Australia fighting the wildfires, CAL FIRE leaders, leaders of local non-profits and so many others. I was recently able to go to Discover Fresno for the second time, an event that brings together the main leaders in our city and offers volunteer opportunities to the public. These all have added to my growth as a student.”

Schultz serves as co-editor-in-chief along with junior Vijay Stephen. Schultz shares some of the ways The Feather has shaped her. 

“Being editor-in-chief this year has been pretty challenging,” Schultz said, “especially taking over with another junior and not having any seniors to take over with us. Vijay and I were brand new to that role and it took us a couple months to figure out the kinds of leaders we wanted to be for this team that has such an important legacy. As a junior, being editor-in-chief has allowed me to connect more with peers that I wouldn’t have talked to otherwise and given me opportunities to lead my classmates. This role has humbled me in a lot of ways and challenged me to give grace when it is needed. I’m so grateful to be part of leading this team!”

In the following podcast, junior Faith Monroy interviews co-editor-in-chief Vijay Stephen about his Feather journey. Stephen shares on his role as a journalist and as an editor.

Braden Bell, ‘20, joined The Feather his freshman year as a journalist. Progressing each year to a different position on the team, he is now trained in all areas. Bell now fills the role of media editor for The Feather.

“Some of the best memories I have with Friesen and Stobbe come from some of our trips,” Bell said. “Whether it is discovering the streets of New York, visiting CSPA, Disneyland or teaching at NSPA. I am so thankful for all that they have taught me and it’s hard to put it all into words. They have been so much more than teachers, but I look at them as mentors instead; mentors in life, faith and education. They have not only allowed me to be successful with my time here at FC, but they have prepared me for the rest of my life.”

In the video below filmed by seniors Braden Bell and Wesley Hinton  roughly 200 Fresno Christian High School students and faculty went out to the community for the 7th annual Serve Day on Feb. 27.

Jennifer Rose is a 2008 campus graduate and part of The Feather’s 2006 and 2008 NSPA Online Pacemaker and also had the honor of being one of Stobbe’s students.

“Stepping through those journalism class doors my freshman year,” Rose said, “I did not realize what I had gotten myself into and the impact it would have on my life. The Feather helped lay down the foundation to all my accomplishments by learning how to objectively analyze situations. By improving my reading and writing compression, I was able to excel in the classroom and in my career.

Rose said she has worked for two professional sports teams and currently an instrumental part of the marketing department at Valley Children’s, developing brand engagement and awareness through print and media collateral.

“Without Greg Stobbe and his guidance, I do not think I would have had all the success thus far in my life,” Rose continued. “This all began as a 13-year-old who randomly joined a school paper and if I could go back, I would do it all over again.”

After the boys basketball team won the CIF Central Section DV Valley championship, senior Braden Bell filmed and produced the following video, Feb. 28.

For more articles, read COLUMN: Chinese international student talks press for education and Newsies highlights First Amendment rights, students promote five freedoms.

Faith Monroy can be reached via Twitter.

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