Payson High School has a new student newspaper, put together by 15 students who are giving up their lunch hour for their love of the printed word.
"That's basically it," senior Sam Strothman, one of the paper's founders, said. The computer-generated newspaper is done on Microsoft Publisher and published monthly this school year.
The first issue, published March 3, came out with a banner that read "PHS News," and a plea for suggestions for a permanent name. The winner -- "Hear the Horn."
Now two issues old, the "Hear the Horn" staff is working on the final issue this school year, sacrificing their lunch hour to meet each day in business teacher and sponsor Richard Meyer's room.
Next year, the newspaper will be published by the members of a new class called Entrepreneurship.
"They roped me into sponsoring it," Meyer said, "but just about this time the state supervisor for career and technical education (Janet Gandy) came down and did an evaluation of our program. She said, ‘The state department wants you to add a practical application course that goes onto the end of the accounting courses and the advanced business courses.'
"I thought about it and said, ‘If it's supposed to be like a business then putting out a student newspaper would probably meet that requirement,' so next year the newspaper will be put out by those students," Meyer said. "They'll sell advertising, keep records, keep inventory, put it out on time, and distribute it."
In the meantime, the original staff is learning a lot about the newspaper business -- much of it by trial and error. For example, they gave the first issue away, but tried to charge 25 cents for the second.
"That went over like a lead zeppelin, so we don't know what we're going to do," Meyer said.
Several staff members, including Ophelia Corliss, have been out selling ads to help offset costs.
"I usually do the program for the drama department, so I just go out for both," Corliss said. "I'm usually a behind the scenes person."
So far, support from the business community has been mostly positive, but Corliss ranks four businesses -- the Payson Candle Factory, Cousin's Subs, the Valhalla Modifications and the Payson Roundup -- as especially supportive.
"The lady at the Candle Factory was really excited to get her ad to 1,000 students," she said. "She even wanted a stack of papers to pass around the community."
Advertisers who come on board this year get their ads in exchange for a donation, but next year they will be charged $5 per square inch for the entire year.
To establish guidelines for editorial content, the staff met with PHS Principal Sue Myers.
"We've been having meetings with Mrs. Myers on and off throughout the semester," Strothman said. "We had to get a little bit of clarification. Right now, we have a lot of freedom, but we know what to say and what not to say, and we do have a little bit of overseeing from Mr. Meyer."
Meyer, who is completing his second year as the replacement for Tim Fruth, who left to become assistant principal at Rim Country Middle School, says the staff can pursue what they want as long as they do it responsibly.
"In the conversation I had with (Myers), I asked her to trust me," Meyer said.
"When I put the notice out to teachers and staff, the reaction was great. They can investigate anything they want to investigate, but we only allow them to deal with facts -- no personal opinions. Basically, the who, what, where, when, why and how of good journalism."
The first two issues of "Hear the Horn" also have featured profiles of students and teachers, news of upcoming events, clubs information, and background pieces on subjects like obtaining a college scholarship. There are even student opinion and advice columns.
"Basically, we come up with ideas together," Strothman said, "and then everybody divvies up which one they want to research."
Meyer, a retired businessman who decided to give teaching a try, says this first newspaper staff is an outstanding group.
"They're not getting any credit for it, but they're more than willing to accommodate all the things we need to get ready for next year," he said.