Altered events, steadfast values

Even though SJW celebrations may be toned down this year, the values behind them remain strong


Photo by Annette Suk

Last year, part of the Scholastic Journalism Week celebration was raffling off baskets. The Bear Facts staff has decided to discontinue this tradition for safety reasons, but still plans to hold a fundraiser and create more social media content.

During past years, Bear Facts has put together a week of celebration to honor Scholastic Journalism Week, including raffles, fundraisers, and games. 

However, just as COVID-19 has dismantled nearly every other celebration or festivity, the Scholastic Journalism Week (SJW) celebrations will be significantly different this year. Rather than the traditional events like Penny Wars and raffling off baskets, Bear Facts is putting together more virtual content and celebrations along with a fundraiser at Chipotle. Even though the festive atmosphere has been dampened, the sentiment to protect a free student press must remain strong. 

In a world where disinformation has become the new normal, there is more of a need than ever to protect student journalists who seek out the truth. We must encourage the growth and freedom of the next generation of journalists. 

Last year, part of the Scholastic Journalism Week celebration was raffling off baskets. The Bear Facts staff has decided to discontinue this tradition for safety reasons, but still plans to hold a fundraiser and create more social media content. (Photo by Annette Suk)

While it may be difficult to see the problem in our school, where the journalism program is “supported by our principal and a lot of the board members,” there are also many instances where “students want to have power in some kind of way but they’re being suppressed because the higher-ups believe that their word is better,”  Annette Suk, Business Manager of Bear Facts and coordinator of SJW events, said. “Every person, whether they are a teacher, a parent, or a student deserves to know what’s going on around the school and the community. It’s important to know if something big is happening, and the fact that some schools are suppressing that kind of information is unjust.”

In addition to reporting on important school and community news, school journalism programs serve an even greater purpose, according to Carolyn Wagner, advisor of the Bear Facts program. By enrolling in journalism classes and taking part in student-run publications, Wagner says, students can learn how to think more analytically towards the media they consume. 

“Journalism lays a proper foundation for students to understand how news is reported and why they should pay attention to how they consume that news,” Wagner said. “News seems to be explicitly done for the benefit of readers, but we have to understand that journalism is a business, and like any business, it can be affected by external factors.” 

By getting students involved in reporting and learning how to report, these classes and programs  “strengthen their writing skills, and learning how to design doesn’t just help to benefit their ability to look at things visually, but having them sit in a class and talk to other students allows them to pick apart ideas and decide how to filter those ideas.” In contrast to most classes in the school, journalism specifically trains students “in how to think analytically. We need to learn how to question sources, we need to learn how to be more proactive in thinking about the news that we hear.”

Order at Chipotle on Wednesday, February 25 from 4pm-8pm to help support student journalism! (Photo by and used with permission of Chipotle)

To support this kind of education about analytical thinking, funds are needed to buy resources like cameras and other technology. However, senior leaders in Bear Facts are having difficulty in raising those funds. Even though the staff had hoped to celebrate in the same way as last year, this year’s new circumstances have forced a change in plans. 

Last year, SJW was one of the most rewarding and weeks. Earning all that money and seeing people actually participate and spread awareness was something I took pride in since I was able to help organize the festivities,” Suk said. “This year, the staff is just really indecisive because we are so wary about doing much because COVID is really scary and we don’t want to get anybody sick or put someone in danger.”

While the staff cannot put together any large celebrations or events, there will still be a fundraiser to raise awareness and funding to support student journalism programs. The fundraiser will take place from 4-8 pm Wednesday, February 24th at Chipotle in Kildeer (across from Deer Park Town Center). Anyone can participate by showing the flyer (pictured here) or mentioning Bear Facts when they order.