The Phoenix

The Problem

[size=30] [b] The [i] Phoenix [/i] [/b] [/size] http://www.phsphoenix.com The [i] Phoenix [/i] is an independent news magazine for students at Pomperaug High School in Southbury, Connecticut. The [i] Phoenix [/i] was originally aimed at a readership of high school students, but subscribers now include a healthy dose of parents and teachers as well. The [i] Phoenix [/i] began when I saw that something important was missing from Pomperaug. Though we already had a school-sponsored newspaper, there were two problems with it: 1) It was not truly independent, as all content had to be approved by the principal before publication; and 2) A new issue only came out about two or three times a year. As a rather unhappy writer for the school's newspaper, I challenged myself to put together an issue of a newspaper all on my own, finding writers and topics myself - all in two weeks. When I succeeded, the [i] Phoenix [/i] was born. Since its rather rocky start in February, the [i] Phoenix [/i] has blossomed into an exciting, innovative, eclectic, and informative publication. Our two-week timetable has been ambitious and even grueling, but ultimately satisfying: With nine issues produced this past year, one issue already created for the upcoming school year, and an anticipated 20 issues to come before the summer, we promise much - and we deliver. At the moment, the [i] Phoenix [/i] comes out with a new issue every two weeks and has a readership of [b] over 200 regular readers. [/b] To give you an idea of the contents of any given copy of the [i] Phoenix, [/i] our newest issue (this year's Issue 1) contains articles about: YouTube; summer vacations; video games; science; Harry Potter; colleges and college events; volunteerism; politics; and life after high school. This issue also contains satire, artwork, comics, excellent photography, games (sudoku, etc.), and a helpful mini-guide to give incoming freshmen some basic information about extracurricular activities. You can view our newest directly at http://www.phsphoenix.com/archives/volume2/issue1.pdf :) [b] In mere months, the [i] Phoenix [/i] has become a medium of expression for students; a fun, interesting, and informative publication to its many admirers; and a symbol of pride to its contributors. [/b] We at the [i] Phoenix [/i] have also in a way become standard-bearers for students' rights to freedom of expression. Since its inception, our newspaper has occasioned definite apprehension among the school district's administrators. Not exactly a progressive lot to begin with, instead of fostering or even accepting an independent publication, they first tried to dodge any potential future problems by banning distribution of our newspaper in school. (I'd like to note that in ten issues, we have dealt with subjects of controversy, but there has been absolutely no objectionable content in the [i] Phoenix.) [/i] In response, we at the [i] Phoenix [/i] have lobbied forcefully for freedom of expression among students in the region. We initially made only one small step, causing a new policy to be drafted by the Board of Education which allowed students the right to distribute their works only before and after school. Just recently, however, our efforts really paid off: A proposal, backed by the superintendent and the chairman of the Board, is now on the table to allow the distribution of student-created written materials during lunch (as it is non-instructional time). I believe that in this way, we have affected all 1400 students at our high school, plus numerous parents and administrators. And as the years go by, our efforts will affect every single student who makes his or her way through Pomperaug High School - whether they realize it or not. Unfortunately, the [i] Phoenix [/i] does have fundraising issues (part of the reason why I'm writing this!), due to our commitment to keep our publication free of charge, and the fact that publications with advertising are banned at our school. With a peak demand of about 120 paper copies per issue, a new policy allowing further distribution, and production costs (this year's Issue 1 estimate) at about $.60 per copy (due to our abundance of content!), printing costs are about $80 per issue (every two weeks) and rising. Don't get me wrong - increased subscription is an amazing thing! But I pay for the [i] Phoenix [/i] directly from my paycheck (about $105 every two weeks), and I will soon be withdrawing money from my savings if we do not find an efficient and "permissible" way of fundraising soon. But despite any trials and tribulations, I have no doubt that the [i] Phoenix [/i] will live on. Most of us on the staff are Seniors, but we have some excellent Juniors as well, and we are concentrating on recruiting Freshmen and Sophomores to our cause as well. I dream that the [i] Phoenix [/i] will one day become an incredibly sophisticated, successful, and widely-read student publication - and I think that with time and effort, we can turn that dream into a reality.

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