HUMBOLDT — The secret to the success of Humboldt High’s student newspaper, Cub Tracks, is its ability to adapt.
New on the horizon is the paper’s move to include a web edition, cubtracksonline.com.
The 40-year-old student newspaper has a record of success. Its program, once led by Allen Wilhite and now led by Kim Isbell, has won 16 Kansas Scholastic Press Association (KSPA) championships, more than any other school in the state. Isbell said they have won four out of the last five championships.
“We set a very high standard for ourselves,” Isbell said. “Because of our history, we don’t want to be the first to falter.”
Anna Setter, editor-in-chief for the paper, said it is important to have the online aspect of their program.
“With the online news, it helps us get more ‘up-to-the-minute’ news than with the paper,” Setter said.
Over the years, Isbell said the classroom has become more digital, enhancing programs they use to design pages and work with photos. Now the publication of the paper runs on a completely digital process. It is printed by Osage Graphics out of Burlingame.
THE HUMBOLDT students have a passion for the process, and for getting information to their student body.
Stevie Barfoot, the online editor-in-chief for the class, said the work environment more resembles a real newspaper than a classroom.
“It’s a lot more relaxed than other environments,” Barfoot said. “But we still work hard and get our stuff done.”
Isbell said she sees herself as more of a “coach” than a teacher. She said she has a working relationship with the students, and she is learning new things every day as well. She said her program has sent many students into the field of journalism, but believes the program teaches much more than a trade.
“It is not just journalism, it builds more well-rounded skills,” Isbell said. “They learn teamwork, multi-tasking and a lot of other things. They can be successful at anything.”
It seems the paper can be successful at anything as well. Isbell said the paper has faced some challenges in its past. In 2005, state government looked to pull the funding that goes to programs like Humboldt’s journalism program. The funding, which came from the Career and Technical Education (CTE) aspect of the school, was being pulled due to what legislators cited as a lack of interest for the field of journalism.
State legislators eventually decided to maintain funding the programs, but Isbell said the program would have kept going if they had taken their funds. She said the students care too much for journalism and they could have relied on advertising funds to carry them on. Situations such as this one showcase the confidence that has grown throughout the classroom.
Overall, the paper has endured budget cuts and a dwindling economy to remain as what Barfoot describes an essential tradition of Humboldt High.
“When we start handing out the papers, students start to swarm us,” Barfoot said. “They want to see themselves in the paper.”
Now the students will be able to see themselves on the web as well. Barfoot said Cub Tracks Online is currently running, but just needs some “kinks” worked out.
The Humboldt journalism team will compete in regionals for KSPA at Pittsburg State University in February and then the state competition in May at the University in Kansas in Lawrence. Before then, the students will attend the Journalism Education Association’s annual convention for high school students in San Antonio, Nov. 15-18.