Editor's Note: The subhead on this story has been changed to more accurately describe the award received by The Stinger.
Special to Emmaus Patch By Chrissy Cilento, Emmaus High School Junior
For a group of students at Emmaus High School’s newspaper The Stinger dedication to a story recently was rewarded.
A story in the February’s edition of The Stinger, "Teen Dating: A Violent Twist,” won second place and two new iPads for EHS’s newsroom in the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s statewide contest to spread awareness about domestic violence.
The team of students included Sophie Bean, Logan Beck, Melanie Brusseler, Allison Dremock, Claudia Estrada, Alex Hubickey, Emily Leayman, Abbey Pudliner and Liz Sweitzer. The students collaborated on the project for months, put their hearts into the story and developed a profound emotional attachment to it by the time it was published.
The team followed the story of Donya and Darius, a couple whose relationship turned fatal when .
The writers found themselves in emotionally wrenching situations as they .
Junior Melanie Brusseler describes the hardest part of the project for her, which was interviewing Darius’s mother.
“Going into the interview we thought that the hardest part would be getting her to open up to us, but once we were really into it we realized that the hardest part was actually dealing with what she told us... It was hard for me to walk that fine line between professional objectivity and at times either apathy or sympathy,” Brusseler said.
Understandably the students all had their fair share of emotional stress stemming from both the subject matter and the immense amount of work that went into the project. In the end they produced a story unlike any that The Stinger has ever published, exploring new aspects of writing and growing as both journalists and people.
The Stinger’s faculty advisor, Denise Reaman, agreed that her students benefited immensely from the project on more than just an academic level.
“I think my students learned that what they are doing has significant meaning outside of the classroom. This wasn't about earning grades or improving their GPAs. It was about raising awareness that domestic violence is completely unacceptable and that it does happen in our community,” Reaman said.
The experiences that the students had with “Teen Dating: A Violent Twist” will carry with them through their careers at The Stinger as well as later in life. Taking on the responsibilities, emotional strains and work-loads of adults, they realized so much more than how to effectively use a semicolon.
As Junior Logan Beck said, “I learned that writing is so much more powerful than we think it is; our project has the potential to help teens in a difficult situation. My hope is that we did.”
Chrissy Cilento, a junior at , plans to study journalism in college. She is a periodic contributor to Patch.