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Student newspaper The Eagle returns to Serra Catholic

| Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 10:30 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Serra social studies teacher Ryan Raible reviews a classroom assignement in which students were asked to write and design original newspaper-style political cartoons.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Daily News editor Carol Waterloo Frazier guides Serra Catholic High School students through the newspaper during a classroom presentation.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Serra students, from left, Lydia Fennessy, Adam Striffler Galaski and Shannon Kolenik listen to a presentation about newspapers.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Marty Slovonic hands an issue of The Daily News to classmate Laurel Stern.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Anthony Koval and Jonathan Lesnak talk about their findings during a discussion on newspapers.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Serra students Matt Salemi and John Szarmach thumb through issues of The Daily News in class.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Drawing on a Daily News article that featured a local pastor who blesses pets, Serra student Laurel Stern designed a comic mocking the recent government shutdown.
CIndy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Junior class representatives, from left, are secretary Dan Ragan, vice president Anthony Rosso, president Lydia Fennessy, treasurer Shannon Kolenik and secretary Cassie Fedor.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Serra senior class representatives, seated from left, are president Collin McSheehy and secretary Grant Taylor; standing, vice president Danielle Dindak, and treasurers Amy McNeill and Paige Kohl.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Yearbook editors are Zoe Husnick and Maddy Clark.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
National Honor Society officers, from left, are secretary Zachary Shomo, president Clayton Lyons, vice president Megan Sieg and treasurer Ryan Houston.

Serra Catholic High School is renewing its commitment to newspapers.

From inviting the use of newspapers as classroom tools to reinvigorating a student-crafted publication, Serra understands the value of connecting with local and world news through periodicals.

“Newspapers allow us to connect current events to past events and serve as a tool for responsible citizenship,” history teacher Ryan Raible said. “Awareness helps people make informed decisions.”

Raible, who chairs the school's social studies department, explained that students are learning about government, politics and social issues through newspaper accounts of what's happening in the world. And by reviewing The Daily News in his classes on a weekly basis, students are making a connection with local news.

“A lot of people say that students shouldn't talk about news and politics because we don't understand it,” Laurel Stern said. “But I think it's probably a good idea for us to learn and start talking about these things early. When we're older, we'll need to know exactly what we're talking about.”

Laurel was among students in Raible's U.S. history class who wrote and designed political cartoons that combined the themes of local articles with national or world issues. Her piece tied a Daily News article in which a pastor planned to bless local pets with the conditions surrounding the U.S. government shutdown. Cartoon people walked away from the pastor saying, “If only she could bless the zoo in Congress.”

“We had to pick a current event and write a political cartoon about it,” Laurel explained. “We had to come up with an original joke and put a local spin on it.”

An October presentation by Carol Waterloo Frazier, an editor at The Daily News, informed students that newspapers are valuable tools in classes other than social studies. Kids at all grade levels are learning to navigate newspapers with reading, writing, science and even math in mind. Students recognized the paper's application for grammar lessons and assignments involving the stock market.

English teacher Michael Palcsey, a Serra graduate who returned to the McKeesport campus as staff this year, is bringing back the Serra Eagle, the school's student newspaper.

“The Serra Eagle has been a tradition since the school opened in 1962,” Palcsey explained. “I am working to reinstate the school newspaper this academic year so that students who enjoy writing have an outlet to do so. I am structuring this newspaper club similar to the way writing and editing was done while I contributed to The Daily News in McKeesport from 2008 through 2010.”

Palcsey learned, on the job as a reporting intern during college, that accurate reporting is important on anything that the readership may find relevant. The Serra Eagle, he said, is intended to capture the events of a six-week period, from club activities to sports accomplishments, in a professional, succinct document — giving students something that will keep them informed now and provide them with fond memories of high school in the future.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or

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