The Growl returns to MHS with that old school flavor

Will appear in The Ledger starting Sept. 22

By Jami Williams, Mexico High School
Posted 9/15/21

Whoever said that an old dog is reluctant or perhaps incapable of revival has not met the student staff of Mexico High School's student newspaper, The Growl. So the students are taking the Bulldog by …

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The Growl returns to MHS with that old school flavor

Will appear in The Ledger starting Sept. 22

Posted

Whoever said that an old dog is reluctant or perhaps incapable of revival has not met the student staff of Mexico High School's student newspaper, The Growl. So the students are taking the Bulldog by the paws and walking it right back to its roots.

After an absence from the community for nearly five years, the concept of student journalism was alive and well; what was lacking was stability. The Growl lived inside The Mexico Ledger, but as The Ledger changed hands, The Growl was lost in the shuffle, at least at the community level. Nevertheless, The Growl continued to maintain a semblance of presence through digital printing and a website.

In 2012, The Growl became the umbrella for an experimental broadcasting program that featured a news magazine, The Bite. The Bite supplied broadcast packages to the Mexico High School Digital Media Facebook page and a YouTube channel. Just four years after its commencement in 2016, The Bite was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in High School Journalism, the most elite and honorable award that a high school journalism program can receive. In addition, the Growl, the parent of The Bite network, gained recognition from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Plans were in the works for the program to become a feeder program to the J-School.

But life gets in the way. First, the sale of The Mexico Ledger left The Growl without a means of distribution. Then, in 2017, The Bite suffered the loss of its broadcast studio. The program struggled to stay alive, moving to a digital format for the paper through the website, digital publishing, and thinking outside of the box for studio space. But each setback only worked to make the program more robust and more creative.

For two years, The Growl offered both digital and printed copies of the much-loved Mexico tradition of the Letters to Santa edition. Then, the Bite was tapped to create videos for the Bright Futures program. However, there was still a spark left in the program; it was going to take the brilliant determination of a group of students who would commit to keeping both The Growl and The Bite alive.

Those students assembled in room 102 on the first day of school. They agreed that they would choose hard work over the minimum effort, that The Growl and The Bite deserved to live on, and once again ascend in such a way that both would become the voice of Mexico High School.

The work has begun. The Mexico Ledger agreed that bringing back the opportunity for proper student press was vital both to the community and the students' academia. A renewed interest from the students meant that The Bite would return to weekly production and distribution. In addition, plans are in the works to add podcasting, not just for students but for teachers, administrators, and community members. All of the podcasting would be produced by the students and available on all mainstream podcasting sites, putting students on the technical side of hosting and editing podcasts for community members for a small fee, ensuring that for the next nine months, The Growl will be a constant presence in The Mexico Ledger.

An old dog can be taught new tricks. But there must be determination, readiness, skill, and the willingness to adapt and change. The Growl students bring those things to the table this year, so the old dog will once again fetch the attention and support of the community. As per tradition, the first edition of The Growl will focus on Homecoming activities and will feature several student spotlights.

If you or your business would like to support The Growl by purchasing advertising or committing to a monthly donation, please get in touch with the adviser, Jami Williams, during school hours at 573.581.4296 x 2726 or any time at jwilliams@mexico.k12.mo.us. Also, look for the first edition of The Growl in the Sept. 22, 2021 edition of The Mexico Ledger.

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