Updated: Apr 22
Just like Jesus, the Judah Newsroom has risen from the dead.
In 2014, Judah Christian School had a working newsroom. But that was the last year a newsroom team and journalism class existed at Judah — until now.
Now, “back in the day” is back and better than ever.
In 2022, the newsroom has been brought back in a major way. This year, the new Judah Newsroom will be writing feature stories and other articles about the school and the adventures and achievements of its student body. The new newsroom will be a high school elective and extracurricular activity offered at Judah in place of the yearbook elective, with the newsroom team working every day during sixth hour. The newsroom will function not as an academic class but as a practical job internship experience. Students on the newsroom team will learn to be capable, reliable, and professional at their communicating craft.
The Judah Newsroom will provide students with many different opportunities to grow, strengthen all of the students at Judah, and strengthen Judah as a whole. For those who are in the newsroom, it will strengthen their ability to write and will help them develop new and useful job skills. Students will learn how to work in a business setting and will be better prepared for whatever career they choose later in life.
For those who are not in the newsroom elective, a working newsroom at Judah will make information about the school more readily accessible and will generate more interest in the achievements of its students. This information and interest will reach beyond the current school community and may well bring new funding, new programs, and new students to Judah. In fact, the inaugural newsroom team believes that their work this year will be instrumental in opening new horizons for Judah Christian School in the years to come.
Michael Himick, English teacher for grades 10 to 12, is in charge of running the newsroom. “Back in the day,” he used to be chief editor at the Chicago Board of Trade, managing editor for Encyclopedia Britannica’s Britannica.com, vice president and executive producer at LifeMinders (an email newsletter company with millions of subscribers), and publisher and editor-in-chief of KnowledgeNews. With his extensive experience as a writer, editor, and publisher in the business world, Mr. Himick is more than qualified to make Judah’s hopes for the newsroom become a reality. Jim Moxley, Judah’s secondary principal, said, “You’ve got to have the right person guiding the ship, and right now, we’ve got the right person guiding the ship with Mr. Himick.”
Beginning last spring and continuing throughout the summer, Mr. Himick discussed his plan for the Judah Newsroom with Mr. Moxley and with Blake Porter, executive director of institutional advancement at Judah. Mr. Porter was very interested in the idea of a newsroom. His hopes were similar to Mr. Himick’s in wanting real-world skills to be taught to Judah students. He also hoped that the newsroom would share the school’s achievements with the community at large. The idea for the newsroom was also brought to the attention of Barbra King, Judah’s business manager. Mrs. King was enthusiastic about an idea that would reduce the considerable cost of production for Judah’s yearbook and that could potentially benefit Judah in other financial ways as well.
In time, the proposal was discussed with every member of Judah’s leadership team, approved by Mr. Moxley, and approved by Dr. Becky Gardner, Judah’s superintendent. Mr. Moxley saw it as an opportunity for the school and the student body to grow. He said, “That’s what excites me about it. Students are learning photography skills, students are learning to write better, and they are getting taught by someone who’s been in the writing business for 30+ years. That is invaluable.” All of those involved with the creation of the newsroom have high expectations for its potential. Mr. Porter encapsulated this sentiment best, when he said, “My big thing is excellence. I want us to be excellent in every single thing that we do.”
Excellence is indeed the new mantra for the Judah Newsroom. The newsroom will produce Judah’s yearbook, but the yearbook software, format, and process have entirely changed to create excellence. Students will now produce a 176-page, 9-inch by 12-inch yearbook that will sell for around $50, a bargain compared to other schools’ yearbooks. This means that newsroom team members must become professional writers, photographers, designers, and business managers.
No longer will the yearbook elective be an “easy A.” Instead, students who want to join the Judah Newsroom have to fill out a job application and interview for a role on the team. Only a certain number of students are “hired.” So the newsroom will serve students who want a creative and energetic environment where they can seriously develop their skills and abilities. There has already been a tremendous amount of effort and energy put into creating and growing this environment, both on the part of Mr. Himick and on the part of the students involved.
The determination to create something excellent through the newsroom is an indication of a change that is taking place at Judah. The growth and development of the yearbook elective into the Judah Newsroom is a sign of the growth and development of the school as a whole into something greater. The new Judah Newsroom will help spark new life at the school. Expired is the staleness that the school has sometimes experienced in the past and great are the things to come for Judah Christian School.
— Owen Jones, class of '23