By Trinitee “TeeTee” Johnson
“You get to write about things that matter to you.”
Ms. DeWitt said this phrase on day one in journalism when I first joined the Central Academy Press staff. My first thought was, “Oh, wow,” and I was not sure where to even start. Society does not always want young people to speak up, and if we do, they are not always listening to what we have to say. The more I write, the more empowered and confident I feel about myself and what I have to say. Now, I feel as if I can express myself more through writing, get my point across to people, and that they will listen. The freedom to choose what I want to write about is helping me realize I also get to choose what it is I care about. When you realize what it is you really care about, you start on the journey to sparking change.
Central Academy Press, or CAP for short, was established in August 2020 as Central Academy’s (CA) first student-run publication and as part of the CA’s first journalism course. Central Academy is the alternative education center for Cape Public Schools that provides students with a smaller, focused learning environment that welcomes student-led learning. Central Academy Press is a strong representation of what CA has to offer, a platform that welcomes student creativity and expression.
As part of the Central Academy Press staff, the student journalism team has a variety of responsibilities, including writing articles, photojournalism, editing, interviewing, managing social media — they pretty much do it all. There are nine students who range in age from sophomores to seniors on the team. Students meet every school day for an hour and control the content and tone of the publication, which allows their voice to be heard in an authentic way.
“Journalism is teaching me unity within one another — the class could come up with great ideas, and we will all put them to use,” says DaShonta Sterling, senior journalist. “We are like one big family that works hard together and tries to push the next to do their best.”
With all the madness going on in the world, it is important now more than ever for the upcoming generation of difference makers to voice their opinions and be taken seriously. Learning to embrace one’s voice and be critical consumers of information are key skills cultivated through firsthand experience in the classroom. Central Academy Press hopes to spark important conversations and get students interested in voicing their own opinions, updating readers on what’s going on. Writing from a student’s perspective is important to the student journalists involved because everyone deserves to have their opinion heard, and students often feel hushed. CAP puts those voices front and center.
The opportunity to be a journalist at Central Academy is important to the students of CA because the younger generation of students looks up to the older students and sees this as an opportunity to be someone who is outspoken and making a difference. Being a positive influence is possible, despite the stigma of attending an alternative school. When the students of CA see the student journalists doing things that matter and making stuff happen at our age, they think maybe they could do the same. The students here at CA who are part of Central Academy Press really love what they do. It is a way for them to get important information out to parents, students and the community, and to inspire others to speak up and get involved.
“It is important to learn what other people your age have to say,” says Kayla Rodgers, a sophomore at Central Academy and reader of the Central Academy Press. “It can provide a new perspective and start a conversation when your ideas connect. I like to read about what my classmates care about.”
Journalism programs help shape the next generation of voices by embracing and using technology and social media to spark change. Central Academy Press is starting off their social media presence through Instagram, @centralacademypress. Students chose this outlet because it is image-driven and a generally positive platform. While using social media, it is important to listen to multiple voices because it’s good to hear different opinions from a different perspective of the youth; presenting information in a truthful way that allows multiple voices to be heard can work to unite our society. The current youth generation, including the CAP student journalists, should and is leading this charge.
The teachers and administrators at CA are supportive of students finding new ways to step up and take the lead.
“My students are expressive and full of personality. It is important that they develop a way to confidently articulate their feelings and passions,” says Bri DeWitt, Central Academy English teacher. “They can make a true impact on those around them — they just need the tools to develop their voice. A journalism class and digital newspaper give them a safe and supportive platform to grow.”
I am part of the future of this world, and my opinions matter. This program is shaping the next generation of voices — including my own — who will write the stories of our society: how we feel about what’s going on in the world, how we look at certain situations and how we would handle those situations. The sooner my peers and I strive to make a difference, the more impact we can have on society and those around us. My generation only needs a platform, and journalism helps sculpt my words in a way that makes others want to listen.
Trinitee “TeeTee” Johnson is a sophomore at Central Academy and a member of the Central Academy Press staff.
“Being a part of the Central Academy Press journalism team has taught me and continues to teach me that writing is a positive way to express myself.”
—Mason Cookson, Senior at Central Academy
“I saw unity within the first group of Central Academy Press journalists — everyone was sticking together, helping each other out with stories and just trying to do good things. The journalism group is like a family. Everyone is just there to do what they love, which is to write stories and come up with fun ideas for things around the school.”
— DaShonta Sterling, Senior at Central Academy
“Journalism is helping me to read, write and communicate better. It allows me the opportunity to explore different technologies, local foods for reviews and to write for myself about topics I care about.”
— DeAndre Baylis, Sophomore at Central Academy
Want to keep up with the Central Academy Press? Follow the newspaper on Instagram:
@centralacademypress and read the students’ work online at centralacademypress.org.