Local high school publication evolves as it continues to inform and entertain students

Post date: Feb 12, 2020 6:19:25 PM

Founded in the early 1970’s by WHS teachers Janet O’Donnell and Nadyne MacDonald along with their students, The Wells Street Journal continues moving through time as relevant as ever presenting school and sports news for students and staff at Wells High School. Currently, three editions are printed per school year. Once a monthly publication, the paper’s editions now coincide with the change of seasons.

In the early years, the paper’s staff did not have the use of word processing programs, digital cameras, and other devices often taken for granted in 2020. Instead, the paper was produced with typewriters and mimeograph machines. But now the design of the paper’s pages is created online. Currently, about 200 copies are printed per edition in a magazine format complete with a glossy cover. It is distributed free to the student body and made available to the public in the lobby of the Wells-Ogunquit CSD Superintendent’s office.

Teacher Dawn Wentland is now the paper’s advisor and editor. She commented that her students meet in class daily where they, like former students, strive to “leave their own mark” in reporting and photographing about school issues and happenings. Current topics and sections, much like in the past, include feature articles, school plays, sports summaries, survey results, recipes, school calendars, and puzzles.

This winter students are working on a spring issue. For example, Ashton Jacobson-Theriault and James Evangelou are co-authoring an article about the computer game Madden NFL 20. Others on the staff have been conducting student opinion polls with Google’s 'Who's Who?'

Wentland wants to maintain the high standards that others have set in steering the paper. In 2005, under the direction of then WHS teacher and newspaper adviser Jen Lacher-Starace, the Wells Street Journal was recognized by the Maine Center for Student Journalism with the James Russel Wiggins Award. In 2017, then Wells Street Journal staff member Brianna Christie won a writing contest and was invited to represent Maine at the Al Neuharth Free Spirit Journalism Conference at the Newseum in Washington D.C. Wentland credits Christie with being the one who was instrumental in moving the school paper forward into a magazine format.

Wentland pointed out that her student crew is small this school year with only four students. She indicated that in the previous two school years, the staff was larger and produced more content covering a variety of subjects ranging from “A History of the Origins of the English Language” by Matthew Chase to “Ghosts on the Coast” by Katy Cafaro. Wentland commented that many of her staff in 2018-2019 are now in college with several of them reporting for collegiate student newspapers.

Nonetheless, Wentland expects this year’s class to continue to provide “a forum for student voices” and be motivated to meet deadlines. “I want people to find this magazine 10 years from now and say, ‘Wow -- that is so Wells High School 2019-20,” commented Wentland.

From the left, teacher Dawn Wentland, Amasian Conley (senior), Ashton Jacobson-Theriault (junior), James Evangelou (junior); and, not pictured, Izaiah Doucette (junior).

Former WHS seniors that were part of the staff of the “Wells Street Journal” pictured here in the spring of 2019. They are (from left to right) Emma Nelson, Braeden Baston, Roslyn Soper, and Alyssa Bacon. Nelson was Senior Editor and Bacon was a contributing writer to the Wells Street Journal in the 2018-2019 school year.