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The Tam News

News, Opinion, & Multimedia for Tamalpais High School

The Tam News

News, Opinion, & Multimedia for Tamalpais High School

The Tam News

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Editorial: The Tam News needs two classes next year

The Tam News spoke at a TUHSD Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 23 to ask for the reinstatement of the second period of the program.
Courtesy of Hailey Carlton and Nadia Massoumi from the Redwood Bark
Lauren Felder (left) and Emerson Swift (right) read their parts of the letter.

Dear Tamalpais Union High School Board of Trustees, 

We are Tam High students who write, edit, and produce The Tam News and care about the future of this important publication. This past year The Tam News was reduced from two periods to one, which reduced the number of students able to participate in the class. We are here to respectfully request the reinstatement of the additional period of The Tam News

This year, 48 students applied to The Tam News. There were 17 motivated, passionate, and excited students unable to participate in the class, due to the lack of this second period. 

In the 2021-2022 school year, around 50 students were divided between two class periods in The Tam News. Last year, our program consisted of two classes with 21 students each. These smaller classes, along with the release period, provided students with greater opportunities inside and outside of class to produce the highest quality magazine. Excluding time spent in the release period, twice as many hours were put into the four sections of our publication through editors being split between the two classes. Work from our first period was continued into the second, with students maintaining communication across periods. The loss of a period has most significantly impacted our monthly production week, time dedicated to designing and assembling the magazine. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, The Tam News was a nationally ranked and flourishing journalism program. It had twice the amount of current journalism students and one out of eight Tam High students participated in the program. This allowed students to update the website weekly, if not daily, and produce monthly podcasts, radio broadcasts, sports broadcasts, and a late-night style talk show. Additionally, The Tam News collaborated annually with non-Mill Valley feeder middle schools to recruit students, which led to a diverse reporting staff that reflected the demographics of Tam High. 

Sophia Weinberg (left) speaks at the Board of Trustees meeting with Haley Lefferts (right). (Courtesy of Hailey Carlton and Nadia Massoumi from the Redwood Bark)

In our district, several distinguished journalism programs look similar to what The Tam News used to be. For example, the Redwood Bark has three classes in their program: two for reporting and one for multimedia with a total of 66 students in their program. The Pitch at Archie Williams has two classes and a total of 55 students in their program—which is almost equivalent to the number of students who showed interest in The Tam News this year. With more students in their programs, the Bark and The Pitch are able to establish greater community engagement and get recognized for their work more often. 

As you might know, Nonfiction is the prerequisite for Advanced Journalism. Unfortunately, Nonfiction is an English credit and a class that seniors often take to fulfill their English graduation requirements. This resulted in only three sophomores and a handful of freshmen being let into Nonfiction, which will ultimately have a negative impact on how many signups Advanced Journalism receives this year. There is a lack of underclassmen in Nonfiction, not because they aren’t interested or passionate in joining The Tam News, but because there is a lack of opportunity. The majority of Tam students don’t know how to get into The Tam News and are denied access to this prerequisite due to senior priority. We sincerely believe that if we don’t have a second class next year, there won’t be a functioning newspaper two years from now. Our publication is almost entirely student-run, from reporting to distribution. We need to get underclassmen students into the program so that they can excel as senior members.

We as ambassadors for The Tam News understand that we also need to do our part in ensuring that we have enough students for two classes, which is why we have been visiting sophomore and freshman English classes to promote our program. We are also connected to a Tam student-run club called the Journalism Club that helps students who are not in Nonfiction gain and perfect the journalism skills they need to write for our paper. 

Last May, former Tam News advisor Jonah Steinhart approached the Board with concerns surrounding budget cuts to our publication. He was met with silence. We are here to courteously follow up on Mr. Steinhart’s letter and raise awareness that this address is not the beginning of the conversation and certainly not the end. We believe there isn’t a monetary reason to keep Advanced Journalism at one class. 

Now, it is time for the district, and more specifically you as the Board of Trustees, to do your part. And let’s not forget about community members, as well. You can support The Tam News by visiting our website or picking up a copy of our print magazine to read as well as writing a letter to the Board to show solidarity. No longer can it just be students and teachers advocating for school programs. 

Please grant The Tam News two classes again.

Thank you for your attention and consideration, from everyone at The Tam News

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