HomeBlogSummer 2024: ISD 199 History ProjectStudent Newspapers: HELP!

Student Newspapers: HELP!

Going on my second week digging through some of the old records and memorabilia from ISD 199, I'm grateful now more than ever for the full sweep of digitized Simley yearbooks that the high school has made available on its website.

Because if we had to learn about Simley life from the student newspapers...we'd be in a lot of trouble.

Part of that reason is that Simley no longer publishes a student newspaper -- the Spartan Spectrum died a few years ago.

But another reason is that Simley did not, to the best of my knowledge, actually archive or collect all the copies of its own student newspaper. Rumor has it a whole pile of them were thrown out prior to COVID times, but we won't name names or point fingers for that indiscretion just yet. (If you're a Simley teacher reading this and you've squirreled a bunch away in your classroom...let me know!)

And so we're left to whatever bits and bobs we find lying around, which I was lucky enough to read through today!

The earliest known newspaper at Simley, the Sparta Journal, began with the school's inception in 1960. In 1974, the paper's staff changed its name to Spartacus, arguing it "represents leadership." (I wish, instead of bylines, all the paper staff would've called themselves "Spartacus" as well.) Reliant on the school board for grants by 1980, Spartacus appears to have died out by 1981-82.

Resurrected as SHS Press in 1986-87 as part of a journalism class (Simley Yearbook, 1987, p. 172), in 2003-04 the paper became the Spartan Spectrum under the guidance of Ms. Carol Caywood. It ended publication sometime in 2010.

Why preserve these newspapers? The limited copies I have access to show a fascinating side to student life at Simley: topics ranged from 18-year-olds' alcohol use and voting rights in 1971 (they could do the former and had just gotten the right to do the latter) to foreign exchange students (more on them in a future post) and new teachers to weighted grades. Of course, athletics and day-to-day life were a constant, too.

There's a rawness to these papers that you don't necessarily get in the student yearbook: less nostalgia, more watching high school students think and write through the worlds they are experiencing and inheriting.

The problem, though? I've got about five copies of the newspaper in total, with 1971, 1972, 1974, and 2009 represented. (You can see a little exhibit I put together here.) There are more papers out there, of course -- in answering a question of mine tonight, Simley yearbook adviser and English teacher Carol Caywood Sayre implied she has some copies laying around. Surely other advisers and writers do, too!

Do you have old Simley High School newspapers? Tracking them down and scanning them for the website, on the other hand, will be more work. But that's the general idea of this project! We want to learn more about Simley and, hopefully at a date very soon, hear from more members of the community who have copies of this paper laying around! We'll scan them (or, if you're reading this, you can scan a PDF and send it to simleyhistory at gmail dot com!) and post them as we can.

Stay tuned for more updates soon!

Cory Haala
July 8, 2024