For those of you who don’t know, I am on campus most Fridays volunteering in the Punahou archives. I have a lot of fun there and the work is interesting. It also gives me the opportunity to stay involved in the school. It’s not the intimacy that I knew as a student or a parent but I still get the vibe.
On some Fridays I scan the school newspaper, Ka Punahou. The periodical is a far cry from what it was in our days. First, it’s a monthly publication. Second, it conveys little information about daily campus life.
Over the years it’s devolved into musings about getting into college (“Learning to Love the Liberal Arts), politics (“Political Parties Explained”), and sports coverage that doesn’t cover sports (“Club Soccer’s Costly Focus on Fundraising”). The fact that it is primarily a community/general interest rather than a school report makes me think, “Why not read the Star-Advertiser which is so much better with broad-based coverage?” Little wonder that that Ka Punahou, which once won annual recognition as one of Hawaii’s best high school papers, has failed to win a Hawaii High School Journalism Award for years.
A Lost Perspective
For someone who regularly researches the school’s history it makes me wonder, how will my counterpart conduct this research in fifty years? Where will she find stories about the students and how they learned, played, and celebrated life?
Sadly, this information will be hard to find. Today’s stories are crafted by communications professionals writing information for the general public. In this process the student perspective is sorely lost.
I recently wrote a piece about the history of Senior Skip Day. Integral to that story was Ka Punahou‘s coverage of the incident. Do you think you would find coverage like this on Punahou’s online news feed?
Then their whole attitude changed. There was a mad dash for cars and a hurried change of clothes. Some of the boys didn’t even take time to remove their bathing suits. They put their pants on over them and took off for town. On the way in to town the boys began to contemplate what school they wanted to go to next. They even went so far as to learn the alma maters of several of the other schools. The whole bunch stopped at the Blue Bird for a hurried bite of lunch and then returned to school. (Ka Punahou. 12 Nov. 1940.)
Stopping for a bit of lunch at the Blue Bird before you meet with Principal Slade. What a laugh! Such is the value system of the ravenous teen age boy.
But maybe I am idealistic. While amusing at times, are there times when the teenage perspective is better left unsaid and unseen?
See no evil. Hear no evil. DRAW no evil.
Jeff Sia discovered that, sometimes, the adults would rather you kept your student perspective to yourself. At least that’s what then Punahou School President, Dr. Roderick “Rod” F. McPhee had to say:
“Objectionable”? “No place in a school newspaper”? What in the world was he writing about? Take a look.
In commenting upon the incident on his facebook page, Jeff had this to say:
Here’s a sample memo of what I had to contend with periodically from the Administration over the content of the weekly Ka Punahou newspaper when I was editor. The “illustration” in question was something I asked Jim Simpson to create when we did not have enough copy to fill a large space during the weekly layout session held on Wednesday afternoons. He was the one who came up with the “find the …” theme. We worked on the types of items to find and he drew it. The result was harmless, but obviously (from the Memo), “Rod” (he signed it “Rod McPhee”) saw much more into it than was actually there. Perhaps, he was upset when I wrote an editorial criticizing him for only addressing students at the opening speech on the first day of school, the graduation ceremony, and whenever he busted someone for a dress code violation while on the way to a meeting in the Academy area of the school. Don’t get me started on our Dean. … I kept this Memo from “Rod” especially because he was so upset, he repeated himself that the cartoon did not belong in a school paper.
Now that you know what Rod and Jeff think, what say you? Student perspective, school coverage … or not.
Hmmm … I think I need to find that editorial. Will do! (Jeff, McPhee did speak to me when my friends and I were playing Trumps while sitting outside MacNeil Hall. That was supposed to be a card free zone and he let us know that!)