Vondy’s View: Student Press

Vondys View: Student Press

Abigail Vondy, Editor in Chief

The most valuable lessons I have ever learned were derived from both my Journalism I class and Journalism II, better known as the Eaton Red Ink newspaper. I recall having to memorize the First Amendment during my first few weeks in Journalism I. The United States Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Our first assignment was to know this amendment word for word. Although I don’t have it memorized in its entirety today, I am still incredibly thankful for being forced into such a task. The First Amendment is genuinely the heart and soul of this country.

When I joined the newspaper and fell in love with the class, I truly began to understand its importance. We have always been taught that journalism is one of the most important aspects of our country, simply because it is. The American Press Institute said that “the purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their government.”  

Some people I know try to avoid watching or reading the news. They explain that it is too negative for them. And sometimes I have to agree, but isn’t that the point? Sharing the negative allows the people of the world to gain awareness. That awareness grants the people the ability to make informed decisions about everything around them. Without exposing the negative, improvement is impossible. Criticism promotes growth.

This realization took a lot of time for me to completely understand. As Editor of the Red Ink, I began to dig more deeply into the laws of a student-based newspaper. I was curious if the intention of a school-wide paper had the same purpose, freedom, and capabilities. Colorado has the Colorado Revised Statutes Title 22, Education 22-2-120. These statues answered all of my questions, and I feel a deep desire to share them with the student body. Statute 2 states, “If  a publication written substantially by students is made generally available throughout a public school, it shall be a public forum for students of such school.” The Red Ink is considered a public forum and is, in fact, generally available throughout the school. Due to us being a public forum, we are indeed protected under the First Amendment, just like all other newspapers in the nation. Digging deeper, I found Statute 7, which expresses that “No school district or employee, or parent, or legal guardian, or official of such school district shall be held liable in any civil or criminal action for any expression made or published by students.” The Red Ink is for the students, written by students. I am proud of my school and everything I have been able to accomplish through the opportunities it has provided for me. But, like everything else in this world, there is always room for improvement. And Statute 7 allows the paper to allude to this need for improvement without the school district being held liable. 

Allowing students to have a voice is incredibly important in any educational system. Students are oftentimes not present during discussions that directly affect their learning experience. So, being able to voice an opinion through the press allows the students to be heard by the administration. Not only that, but being able to exercise the freedom of press allows high school students to understand their rights and the impact their voice has on the communities around them. If students were unable to express their opinions in a professional manner, necessary change could never happen within their school. 

I welcome the students and staff of the RE-2 district to email me at [email protected] with any questions or thoughts regarding any of our publications. Letters to the editor are always encouraged.