Timberline High School’s Newspaper Blazes A New Path For Student Journalists


By Amy Rowley

Timberline High School Senior Matt Connor served as Editor In Chief for The Blazer.

There is one clear benefit to online publishing – no harried, late nights laying out a paper to meet a printing schedule deadline.  (And, of course, the ability to fix typos after publication!)

Timberline High School journalism students complete this task every month, producing a publication that has earned a top ten placement at the National High School Journalism Convention for the fourth straight year.

“The students produce a very professional quality newspaper that serves to educate, entertain, and engage their audience,” says advisor Dan Hardebeck.

According to Hardebeck, the journalism program continues to benefit and grow from its reputation.  “Over the years, some very intelligent, hard-working students have been involved with the program, which I think helps to attract like-minded students.  We create a very positive culture and kids want to be a part of it,” he adds.

The students, in turn, respect the experience that Hardebeck shares during the journalism class.

“It’s really easy to work for people, like Matt Connor (Editor In Chief) and Mr. Hardebeck, that you respect,” says Assistant Editor In Chief Annah Pritchett.

“Mr. Hardebeck just ‘gets us’ at a relational level.  He has high expectations but it would be an insult if he didn’t expect as much from me as he does,” adds Pritchett who will be attending Viola University in Southern California this fall to continue her studies in journalism.

After 21 years leading the journalism program, Hardebeck is retiring.  He will remain an English teacher at Timberline High School.

Matt Connor serves as Editor In Chief of the Blazer newspaper.  His duties include supervising eight editors, setting editorial policy, and making all final content decisions.

“Matt’s a great leader.  Every day he stands in front of the staff of 40 other students and gives them his daily briefing and pep talk.  He’s got a knack for motivating and teaching others,” comments Hardebeck.

“Mr. Hardebeck guides our journalism team in fair, hands-off way,” describes Connor who credits Hardebeck with his decision to major in journalism and international affairs at Northwestern University.

Haley Slater also served as an Assistant Editor In Chief.  “Annah and I were responsible for backing up Matt and keeping communication flowing between the editors,” describes Slater who joined the paper in her sophomore year as a writer.  “We also mentor younger writers and teach them how the paper is produced.”

Students are encouraged to write challenging articles.  “A lot of high school journalists are afraid to write the tough stories.  We all like to read about the happy times but journalists also have the responsibility to sometimes ask hard questions that compel us to evaluate our lives and our communities,” comments Hardebeck.

While at the Blazer, Pritchett comments that beyond achieving valuable experience she also gained confidence to voice her opinion. “Participating in high school journalism and student press helped me realize that I have a voice and what I say matters,” remarks Pritchett.  “Many high school students don’t realize how important their voice is,” she adds.

“Being a part of the journalism program has taught me about assuming a leadership role,” says Slater.  “It has provided me with a great level of responsibility that other classes don’t offer.  And, it has definitely guided me towards my future career path,” adds the graduating senior who plans on studying computer science and graphic design at Oregon State University.

“This is the one class that everyone looks forward to each day,” says Slater.  “The whole class has become a family.”

“Even though talented young writers make mistakes along the way, I hope the lessons learned will make them stronger, more responsible adult journalists someday,” adds Hardebeck.

As Hardebeck, Connor, Pritchett and Slater move on, a new crew of dedicated, resourceful journalists will take the helm.  And, if past performance is any indication of the future, they are sure to show just as much success.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email