By Ted Hayes

Westport high schoolers resurrect student paper

The old Villager is gone, but The Wildcat has just published its first edition

Posted 1/26/23

A group of Westport high school students has re-invented the school's old newspaper, and staff members are working on their winter edition after publishing their first quarterly edition in November.

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By Ted Hayes

Westport high schoolers resurrect student paper

The old Villager is gone, but The Wildcat has just published its first edition

Posted

A group of Westport high school students has re-invented the school's old newspaper, and staff members are working on their winter edition after publishing their first quarterly edition in November.

The Wildcat replaces The Villager, which published its last edition nearly five years ago. Founder Alden Priestner, a junior, knew about the old paper in her early days at school and approached school officials last year to talk about reviving it. They offered support, and she set about finding a staff to help run it. She now serves as editor-in-chief and is assisted by managing editor Mike Braga, a senior, sophomre sports editor Jack Keane and writers Avery Carvalho, a junior, sophomores Emma Hathaway, Jaira Bernardo and Lilian Carvalho.

"The paper is open to everyone," said Alden, who plans to study technical writing in college. "Anyone can join. There are so many good things going on in the school that the public doesn't know about and go unnoticed. We want to shed light on them."

The first edition was full of good news — sports stories, human interest pieces and a feature about a beloved teacher who won a national teaching contest and was treated to a cruise. Printed on large paper stock, it ran 12 pages.

The first run went off without a hitch, and was limited to just 100 copies distributed at the school. But Priestner and her colleagues plan to print 300 copies of the second edition toward the end of this month, and recently earned school committee approval to distribute copies at the Westport Senior Center, Westport Free Public Library and Lee's Market. They are applying for a Westport Education Foundation grant to help cover production costs; curriculum advisor Lisa Kaminski paid for the paper on the first run.

The staff members say they're excited to be involved in an outlet they believe can make a positive difference at the school.

"I really like shedding light on the good things people are doing," said Jaira, who in the first issue contributed a story about a recent blood drive at the school.

"The medical club recently hosted a drive and I posted a story on that," she said. "It was really interesting to see how they organized it. They were able to collect 30 pints."

This coming edition will include stories on the pre-Christmas break pep rally, a talent show (including a rock n' roll showdown between student and staff bands) and a few editorials, including a request that recycling bins be placed in the cafeteria.

All story ideas are welcome and the group holds regular meetings, either in person or virtually, to discuss ideas. Mike Braga, the managing editor, said the goal is to be comprehensive despite the small staff.

"It's extremely necessary to be as flexible as we can," he said. "Whereas other school programs may have 30 or 40 staff members we have seven. But even with a small staff, we want to allow everyone to express their voice individually. It's not just shining a light on bad things; we want to raise up the good things going on in the community."

"Everybody knows what's going on in the school as a whole, but nobody knows what goes on in the school every day," Emma said. "We want to make sure people know what the whole story is."

Tthat's a good thing, Avery said.

"Talk gets around, and when people read these stories they'll tell others."

 

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.