Students at Michigan City High School who work on the staff of The Cityzen monthly newspaper take pride in their role in informing the school community on events and happenings at the school and surrounding community.
Seventeen students that are a part of two journalism classes are on the staff of the newspaper, working tirelessly every month to balance schoolwork and extracurricular activities with writing, editing, paginating and promoting The Cityzen.
Each student has their own role and very different reasons for becoming a part of the staff.
“They are all a bunch of hard-workers who always want to one-up the last issue and improve every time,” said Mandy Chastain, newspaper adviser and member of the Michigan City High School english department. “They are always excited about getting their name in print, which compels them to be hungry to see it there again.”
Senior Faris Daikhi is the editor-in-chief and is most proud of his “Face the Pack” column that appears every month in the feature section. In “Face the Pack,” Daikhi interviews a different member of the school community or public official. Among the interviewees were Superintendent Dr. Barbara Eason-Watkins, Associate Superintendent Xavier Botana, Michigan City Area School board of education member Marty Corley, Mayor Ron Meer and Gordon Hendry, a member of the State of Indiana board of education.
“It’s fun to interview influential members of the community and get experience to stay as professional as possible while highlighting them as best I can,” Daikhi said.
While Daikhi will leave big shoes to fill when he graduates, sophomore features writer Lizzie Quinlan is up to the challenge, as it has already been announced that she will take over as editor-in-chief next year as a junior.
“She will be the most experienced writer by then,” Chastain said.
Quinlan says she “loves writing,” and looks forward to the new experience, sharing that her coverage of the tax referendum that was not passed by Michigan City voters last November gave her the experience in diving into a controversial topic with strong opinions on both sides of the issue.
Senior Lizzie Smith heads the sports department at The Cityzen, which, according to her, is “stressful at times, but also a lot of fun.” Smith says she would like to continue writing “here and there” after she graduates.
Monica Zaknoun is the paper’s feature editor also enjoys the challenges of writing for print, saying she enjoys “season stories” and “trying to find new angles on old subjects” the most.
“I like to press some buttons too,” she admitted. “We had a story about a school fair that was not what we thought it was. We had a little trouble, but were able to end up running it the way we had it, which we were all proud of.”
Zaknoun will attend the University of Notre Dame next year and hopes to write for their newspaper as well.
News editor Lauren Miltenberger says showing “the positive side” of MCHS is what gives her the biggest thrill. “There are a lot of great things going on here, probable more than most people think,” she said.
Managing the business side of The Cityzen is Nouha Hakim, who has been on the staff for three years and works on securing advertising for the newspaper.
“I would like to go into business and this is a good way to get a sneak peek on the advertising world,” she said. “I was nervous when I first started, but I am now very comfortable talking to clients and finding new ways to bring in ads.”
In addition to the editors, The Cityzen provides a unique perspective through reporters who like to specialize on certain topics.
“I like writing about sports because I have been playing sports my entire life and thought writing would be fun too,” said sports writer Chris Hebb, who joined the staff at the beginning of his senior year. “I’ve played baseball and have bowled and like covering baseball the most.”
Senior Cristian Galvan specializes in world news, providing a unique perspective on a topic not often thought of by high school students.
“World news is my thing,” he said. “I love Michigan City, but I would say I am more world-oriented.”
Galvan has already visited six countries and says the Czech Republic is the most intriguing.
“It is a wonderful place,” he said. “Very free spirited.”
Jay Hixon is a news writer, but says the topic he enjoys most is fishing. He wrote the story informing students that Michigan City retained its status as “Coho Capital of the World.”
“A lot of people didn’t know that (Michigan City) is one of the best fisheries in the world. People come from all over the world in the fall for the salmon,” he said.
Skyler Bailey writes sports and feature stories for the paper and enjoyed researching ‘Den Delirium,’ the famed student section at Michigan City High School sporting events for a story.
“I put a lot of effort into that one,” he said. “I did some research found out how it started and found it easy to get information.”
Bailey also worked on the ‘Athlete of the Issue’ feature during the first-half of the school year.
Amira Novitzke is a sophomore in her first year on the staff. She prefers writing “about fun things, like dances, a health fair or new teachers.”
Within the last year, The Cityzen has added an online version of the newspaper, which can be found here.
“It is definitely different being online too,” Miltenberger said. “Letting people know what’s going on more than once a month is good for everyone. With the online product, we can make updates everyday if we want.”
Junior Richer Huynh joined the staff because he thought he liked to write, but ended up managing the website and works on loading the school’s daily announcements on the page each day instead.
“I think this is a great opportunity for more integration of technology,” he said. “I have a lot of fun doing it.”
Daikhi said the website gives the staff “a great tool” to warrant more engagement from the student body.
The paper released a special section in late February that took “a look at our hometown” with stories devoted specifically to Michigan City and not necessarily the high school. A cover story by sports writer Michelle Newman informed readers on the history behind the consolidation of Elston and Rogers High School, which occurred in 1995.
“I like to go to sporting events anyway, and it has been fun to write and take pictures,” Newman said. “I especially enjoy basketball and taking photos of the Wolves Den.”
While Chastain says the seventh and eighth hour journalism classrooms do not provide “a typical classroom structure,” the reward for the students enrolled in those classes “is so great.”
“It’s nice to see the students come up with so many great ideas and work like crazy to meet the monthly deadline,” she said.
2013-14 Staff of ‘The Cityzen’:
Faris Daikhi, Editor-in-Chief
Lauren Miltenberger, News Editor
Monica Zaknoun, Feature Editor
Elizabeth Smith, Sports Editor
Nouha Hakim, Business Manager
Emma Krivak, Reporter
Nick Marsh, Reporter
Michelle Newman, Reporter
Amira Novitzke, Reporter
Elizabeth Quinlan, Reporter
Sarah Smith, Reporter
Makayla Adams, Reporter
Skyler Bailey, Reporter
Cristian Galvan, Reporter
Christopher Hebb, Reporter
Jay Hixon, Reporter
Richer Huynh, Reporter
Noah Dombrowsky, Staff Artist