Get ready for the voices of the next generation

By Messenger Staff | Published Thursday, March 17, 2011

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CONTRIBUTORS - Decatur High School students Cristin Morgan, Paris Walther, Madeline Pena, Racey Burden and Katie Olson will be writing for the Wise County Messenger. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Wise County Messenger has partnered with student journalists at Decatur High School for a program we are calling “Youth Spoken.” As the name implies, it will offer these young people a voice on the pages of the Messenger.

YouthSpoken 200That voice could be in the form of a guest column. It could be a personality profile. Or it could be an in-depth feature or research project. It could even be photos or video produced by the students.

The work could be featured anywhere in the newspaper – including the front page, opinion page, sports page or our All Around Wise section. Whenever we publish an article, column, photo or video from students participating in Youth Spoken, you’ll see a graphic like the one that accompanies this story.

The purpose of Youth Spoken is three-fold. First, it gives these talented young people additional experience in writing for a newspaper and a broader audience. Second, it gives the public a chance to see what issues are important to the young people of our county. And third, we’ve seen some of the creative stuff these guys can come up with and can’t wait to share it with our readers.

We’ve already had a brainstorming meeting with our five student journalists that resulted in some great story ideas. They’ve been hard at work on the first one, and it should be ready to share in the near future.

You’ll find short biographies and photos of our initial five student journalists on the next page.

Meet the Youth Spoken writers

Racey Burden

Racey Burden

My name is Racey Burden, and I’m the editor-in-chief of the Decatur High School newspaper, The Journal. I love writing, watching movies, dogs and eating sushi. I hate taking notes, gum, any type of math and the Texas Longhorns. Boomer.

I’m so excited about writing and reporting for the Messenger, because I want to major in journalism and write for a living someday. I am a senior at DHS, and this is my last year to make an impression on my hometown before I leave for the University of Oklahoma, so I hope you enjoy my future articles. Until next time, adios.

Katie Olson

Katie Olson

Hi. My name is Katie Olson and I am a senior at Decatur High School. I’ve lived in Decatur my entire life. I work part time at Taco Mayo in Bridgeport, and I am the Expressions Editor for The Journal and have been a member of the staff for three years.

Outside of my commitment to The Journal, I participate in many school clubs and a national college preparatory program called Upward Bound. Aside from school activities, I love to write on my own time, along with reading books, watching anime and listening to music.

My goal after high school is to major in journalism at UNT. I’ve learned a lot through writing for the high school paper, and I hope writing for the Messenger will provide me even more experience.

Madeline Pena

Madeline Pena

My name is Madeline Pena and I look forward to writing for the Messenger. I am a second-year journalism student at Decatur High School, and I can’t wait to share my writing with a new audience.

What I enjoy most about journalism is informing readers what truly happens to a person, event or group.

Besides writing for the school newspaper, you might find me dancing ballet or flamenco, singing in the varsity choir, or working with the Mock Trial team. I am the daughter of Howard and Alea Pena, and I have a little brother, Marcus.

Paris Walther

Paris Walther

My name is Paris Walther. Not France or Hilton, just Walther. This is my first year on The Journal staff, and I have really found a passion for it.

I love to write, rope and go to church. I am a member of a rodeo association called Pro-Youth where I compete in ribbon roping and breakaway. My roping horse’s name is Juanita; she’s a Quarter horse that I spend nearly all my time with.

My favorite movie is Talladega Nights; I can quote the entire movie by heart, and that’s a fact. I’m in FFA, and this year I participated in Ag. Issues and Horse Judging. My goal is to attend Tarleton State University, then go on to write for a magazine like Texas Monthly.

Cristin Morgan

Cristin Morgan

Hello Wise, my name is Cristin Morgan, and I am a sophomore at Decatur High School. My family and I moved to Decatur in 2002. I am a Christian, and I am a member of First Baptist Church of Decatur.

My love for writing began in 2009 when I wrote my first story over my sister competing in triathlons. I was awarded first place in the category sports feature in the ILPC clips contest for this story. After that I transferred to the newspaper staff and became the advertising manager and How-to editor in 2010.

This year I went to one UIL meet, earning first place in editorial, second in news and headline and third in feature. I also earned a certificate of honor for one of my How-to stories in the TAJE clips contest.

I have a passion for writing and I look forward to this great opportunity not many teens get, which I thank Cindy Berry, journalism teacher, and the Wise County Messenger for. After I graduate high school I plan to major in journalism and hopefully take it one step further into a lifelong career.

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