Behind the doors of Room 111


Photo Amanda Pyle

Room 111 in action

The 2018-19 school year was an eventful one for Hi’s Eye, with a total of 24 papers produced over the span of nine months. Most only see the refined, perfected final product; however, behind the doors of Room 111, there is always an unimaginable amount of work that goes unnoticed in every four-page paper. Here, we are going to give a behind the scenes look into some of the biggest articles and editions.

Dr. Nelson Tribute: Vol. 85 No. 21 April 12, 2019

On April 9, two days past the originally planned deadline of April 7 and one day before Hi’s Eye had to send a four-page paper to print, all 21 Hi’s Eye staff members show up at 8 a.m. with a blank whiteboard and an obligation to put together a meaningful tribute for our principal, Dr. Derrick Nelson.

After an hour, the board was filled with lists of people to talk to, what information to get and, most importantly, adjectives to describe Dr. Nelson as those seven words were the foundation of the tribute. For the next seven hours, we worked endlessly to do everything we could. Some didn’t leave the room once, some went to a class or two and some went to a press conference at the BOE. At 3 p.m., Room 111 was once again filled with the entire staff. The goal was 2,000 words. By 4:30 p.m., we had 3,200. Seven more hours went by and the article was finished and edited, the pages were laid out, and finally at 11 p.m., it was time to go home.

The process wasn’t as polished as the paper itself. There were tears, yelling and tension. But there were also hugs, a feeling of accomplishment and a bond strengthened between 21 kids that will never be forgotten.

Sex (Ed)ition: Vol. 85 No. 15 March 1, 2019

One of the larger editions Hi’s Eye published was the Sex (Ed)ition. The idea was originally conceived in October by Editor-in-Chief Lauren Sullivan after finding a 1976 edition of Hi’s Eye outlining sex and relating topics in the archives. While controversial, she thought that it was imperative that these topics be addressed as they are rarely talked about. Due to the importance and the controversial potential of the edition, Hi’s Eye wanted to make sure each article had ample time to be perfected, so the release date was pushed to March. Throughout the entire process of completing the edition, we always had to consider the risk of crossing the line and the possible backlash that would ensue. We learned during the Sex (Ed)ition that sometimes a newspaper has to investigate the topics nobody is talking about, even if they are controversial.

Chickenomics: Vol. 85 No. 18 March 22, 2019

When we took over Hi’s Eye in May of last year one of the most highly anticipated articles was “Chickenomics” by Jared Greenspan and Daniel Han. Last April and May, our Journalism 2 class had to write an investigative story. Han began to shout out random ideas, one of them was, ‘why are rotisserie chickens so cheap?’ While the idea seemed ridiculous to many, Assistant Principal Warren Hynes, the journalism teacher at the time, was intrigued and began to print out articles for the two to read. Han and Greenspan spent the next month reaching out to people such as marketing professors and financial officers at national grocery stores. Although the article was actually finished in May of 2018, the article was published in the Hi’s Eye food edition in March 2019. This article was significant and a learning moment for us as it showed that any idea could be transformed into an interesting story if there was effort put into it.

Basketball Referee: Vol. 85 No. 10 Dec. 21, 2018

In early December, Op-Ed editor Natalie Becker brought the staff a story one student had told her that past weekend. It seemed crazy: Had a referee really called the cops on a student who was attending an in-town basketball game because he was African-American? If the story was to be written, Becker needed a statement from the referee. And thus began the two-day long, deadline-rushed search for a man no one seemed to know. That day was spent contacting almost everyone who was at the game that Saturday night, searching the internet for any clues on what the referee’s name could be, reaching out to the other referee who was at the game, and still, no lead.  Then, Hi’s Eye directly contacted the Westfield Basketball Association requesting the referee’s name. The only response was a mass email sent to every parent and player of the WBA making clear that they had no connection with hiring the referees and refuse to tolerate such behavior. On a whim to get his name, Becker interviewed a Westfield police officer in hopes of seeing the police report the referee filed that night—still no name. In the end, the article was written but with a clear indication that the referee did not give his side of the story. Stories aren’t delivered on a silver platter, as a lot of work and reaching out is involved to write an unbiased news story. This article was a lesson for Hi’s Eye in that reporters might not get the information wanted, and when that happens, articles need to be written in ways that still give the public a fair perspective.

Hi’s Eye does a lot behind closed doors and not everything goes as smoothly as the final product might convey. Each week there are setbacks, late nights, stressful conversations and everything in between. But each week, a four-page paper is handed out at homeroom and mailed off all over the country. Over the past year, Hi’s Eye has been through a lot, but in the end it’s the connection between the staff and the dedication that every person radiates the moment they step foot into Room 111, that makes it possible.