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West County World's fall debut
The two seniors behind a new edition of Analy's student newspaper
Analy seniors Yocelin Ramirez Cruz and Andrea Benito Chino are co-editors of the Analy student newspaper, West County World, which has a new fall issue. They are also co-presidents of the Journalism Club. Mr. Grech is the faculty advisor. Yocelin and Andrea responded in email to my questions with refreshing answers.
1) What grade are you in at school and what are your outside interests?
Yocelin: I am currently a senior at Analy High school but I am also a freshman at Santa Rosa Junior College. Outside of school I have two jobs, working at a preschool / daycare and I’m also a babysitter. That is where most of my time goes but if I can I will squeeze in a long walk on the West County trail or finish one book in my extensive collection.
Andrea: I’m a senior at Analy High School. Outside of school, I love volunteering, hiking, traveling, and hanging out with my friends and family. I also love meeting new people, exploring different cultures, and trying out new cuisines.
2) What is the background on West County World?
Andrea: I joined Analy’s journalism club during my freshman year of high school, but back then we were the Tiger Times! After the pandemic and the name change to West County High School and having no mascot, we thought it was time for a change of the student newspaper as well, ultimately leading to the change of name to West County World. This change of name was made two years ago, during my sophomore year, and it’s stuck up until now!
Yocelin: I was a staff writer for the West County World paper in 2022, my junior year, but the last few editing teams really let me down so I didn’t want my name associated with it. Now that I have a chance to bring it back up, I want to make the paper more presentable. I want to be truly proud of our paper and to do it in a professional manner, which is where I felt the last teams failed. All we need are more writers. We really are in a staff deficit. I find myself writing the most of the articles, and I was also the Fall issue layout designer. I manage the social media, and of course I am an editor. We just need more involvement.
3) Describe this edition of West County World.
Yocelin: The Fall 2023 West County World Issue is a ten-page newspaper that centers around Analy student life and our interests as teens in the modern era. For the first time, we moved away from printing in Minnesota and are finally printing in Santa Rosa. That was a huge goal of mine for the 2023-24 school year and I can finally check that off as an improvement for our paper.
Andrea: This first issue was printed out by a friend of our club advisor, Mr. Grech, who has been helping us get everything set up! This issue also only came out in print since we’ve been having trouble accessing the website, but that’s one of our top goals for the new year: putting articles online!
4) Why did you decide to get involved in student journalism and bring the paper back this year?
Andrea: I first got involved with student journalism during my freshman year when my global studies teacher, Ms. Ambrose, recommended I join the journalism club. I had never done any kind of journalism before then, but once I started, I completely fell in love with it. I’ve stuck with the student newspaper all four years of high school, and this year, I was finally able to become co-editor with Yocelin. We both believe that it’s super important for students to see themselves in the newspaper. From school news in print, to classmate interviews, fun trends, and announcements, the paper allows us to form connections and become closer as a school community. It’s incredibly rewarding seeing people holding up a copy of our hard work and smiling and laughing with their friends.
Yocelin: I decided to get involved in journalism because I’ve always had a passion for writing. I hate drawing and I hate working with formulas but I can write. Journalism was just an outlet for that. It has no complicated background; the water just floated me towards this club I guess and I refuse to half-ass anything that my name is going to be attached to. So I dove headfirst during my senior year to pick up all the scraps and build up a better paper in every way possible.
5) Is it an odd thing for a generation raised on digital media to create a print publication?
Yocelin: Not really. It may just be Sebastopol getting to my head but I truly believe that this generation loves traditional things like a physical copy of the news and of books. They love anything “vintage” and historical. Newspapers are still cherished by many; they just don’t find it to be worth paying for when they can get a free read online. It’s about the price, so we offer free newspapers for all to enjoy.
Andrea: I honestly think it’s more refreshing than odd. I feel like a lot of people enjoy that nostalgic feeling of having something physical they can hold and interact with, and that’s been a lot of the reason behind continuing to print rather than switching to something digital. In this issue, we also included a word search and sudoku, and in the next, we’re planning on including winter-themed coloring pages, and those are all things that can’t really be done or enjoyed digitally. I think that a lot of people can agree that sometimes it just gets tiring to stare at a screen all day, so the West County World serves as a nice, relaxing break from that.
6) Andrea, you wrote an article on the livestreaming of Analy football games.
Andrea: It’s about what is going on behind-the-scenes of football games. My boyfriend Gavin was livestreaming the game with his Film class, so he was able to get me access to the press box. I came up with some questions and interviewed everyone who was willing to answer them! It was so much fun being able to talk to so many different people and see how they believed the role they were playing added to the magic of Friday night football games.
7) What were some of the challenges you faced in creating and publishing West County World?
Yocelin: We were actually in debt starting this school year. So money is a huge issue. Another important road block is having little student involvement. I’ve reached out to teachers but even they brush off our club because many think it silly after how our last leaders managed the paper. I agree with them about the past, but now I want to be taken seriously. I have been putting 110% effort into pulling this club out from the gutter. We need administrative help, student involvement, and funding.
Andrea: Yocelin was amazing since she was the one who worked out all the logistics, but it was difficult getting club members to write articles. A lot of the articles were written mostly by Yocelin and she and I did all of the editing and layout, so it was a heavy job to start with. Additionally, we found out that we really didn’t have the budget to print every single month, so we decided it would be best to print seasonally instead. However, I do think the paper came out really nice and I’m super proud of it!
8) Were you able to reflect a broad range of student interests?
Andrea: It was a lot of not being afraid to step outside of my comfort zone, and just going for it. I often went up to students I didn’t know and asked them their opinions on a topic, and it ended up working out really well. I think it’s extremely important to represent everyone in our paper so I’m glad that we were able to portray that sufficiently in our paper.
Yocelin: I make it a personal goal to interview a broad range of student cliques. I want to talk to the hicks, to the football players, to the art kids, to the quiet kids, the emo ones, the popular ones, etc. If they know that their name is going to be in the paper, they will be more inclined to get a paper and show it off to their friends. That’s free promo for us. They don’t care what it is for; they just know that the whole school will read their name.
9) Yocelin, you wrote about Gap Year. Explain what your thoughts are for you and other students?
Yocelin: I think college is too expensive; community college and going straight into the workforce is often demonized for no reason. I work two jobs, I attend two schools, and I’m running a student newspaper. College doesn't make sense to me because I already have so many skills and such a strong resume. Nowadays, a degree doesn’t secure a job for you after you graduate and with soaring inflation, debt doesn’t seem like a bright choice. A 4-year college limits your choices. I want to live. i want to experience life,.I’ve been “adulting” already for so long, I don’t think my life should just be going from lecture to lecture, losing money, all nighters, cramming of quizes, take useless classes that don’t even relate to my major, and more. I get that a degree does have a lot of value but I can always go down that road when I feel more stable. College makes me feel like I'm prolonging becoming independent and experienced. That’s what I want first, independence and experience. I'm not saying a hard NO to a 4-year college, I'm just saying not right now.
10) What are you working on for the next issue?
Yocelin: I want to ensure that our issues aren't stale by the time we release them. Every issue should hopefully tie back to Sonoma County or our students' personal lives. I want to continue the format I made last issue and stay relating to our school but writing about issues that deserve a spotlight.
Andrea: As I mentioned earlier, we are going to be including winter-themed coloring pages and with that, an art competition between the grades! There are going to be a lot more articles written by different students so I’m excited to see all of our new writers and their articles. Winter and the holidays are also coming up, so there’s going to be a lot of that represented in our paper as well. I’m so excited and we’re aiming to get our next issue out in mid-December. Stay tuned!
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