The Auroran Today

The Student News Site of Muscatine High School

The Auroran Today

The Auroran Today

Behind the Scenes of Newspaper

Exclusive insiders look at MHS newspaper story production

Is it a Normal Class?

Newspaper is not like many other classes as it has a more flexible structure. 

Charley Pierce, a senior at MHS said, “Newspaper is very much like a working environment, in a way we’re all friends, but in a way we’re all coworkers too because we all work for the same entity and we all drive to make sure that everyone publishes during the month, everyone’s stories get edited like we all have to rely on each other. I feel in other classes, like in your typical math class, you are independent when it comes to your work.”

The newspaper has different standards and ideas when it comes to “assignments” and in-class work time. 

Mrs. Rauenbuehler, the newspaper teacher at MHS, said, “There are expectations that each kid has to fulfill, or each staff member. But there’s a lot more autonomy as far as how you get there, and maybe like when that process takes place. So like I would say in a traditional classroom even though I never try to be a teacher more so than in a newspaper I try to say things like x,y, and z and then give kids autonomy to figure out how you want to achieve that.” 

Newspaper assignments can look different compared to other classes. Most of the time it’s just independent work on stories. Some possible assignments or grades would be employability, end-of-month reflections, required stories for the month, and journalism boot camps. Employability is just an end-of-the-week reflection on your work and journalism boot camps are the most similar thing Newspaper has to normal assignments. 

Rauenbuehler said, “I think it’s hard because I still desire for some whole class experiences or like staff training, you would say. And like you encounter this in any profession, like in teaching you have professional development days, and it’s unrealistic to cast a net of professional development and assume it fits the needs of every single person so I like having classroom experience because I think it’s good for rapport, but it’s also a way for me to teach skills and stuff.”

Journalism boot camps are beneficial to the development of the entity’s writing by focusing on specific aspects of our writing. When she thinks headlines are lacking she may hold a boot camp specifically about headlines. 

Rauenbuehler said,  “I don’t know how in a class maybe the expectation is that it’s more self-driven than how I would ever facilitate a journalism boot camp that fits everyone’s needs at the moment. I do try to think that I can justify what I think everyone benefits from it. But, sometimes getting students to see that connection is hard and/or it’s just not meeting them where they are currently at in their actual production or just experience with the content.”

Because of the different environment students or staff members are forced to double down on their work to make sure everything gets done. 

Rauenbuehler said, “It’s a lot more self-paced, I think kids feel like they have a lot more choice in what they do, and then I also think over time staff members realize that even though you typically work independently on stories there is like a collaborative nature in the classroom.”


Writing Process 

One of the first things someone might notice when walking into the Newspaper classroom is the progress board. It is a large drawn-out board with six steps (two of which are not included in the photo), work in progress, done with doc/draft (section edit), format on SnoSites, ready to publish, donezies, and posted. It is also subdivided into the five sections of our newspaper, informative, sports, feature, opinion, and arts and entertainment. 

Mahayla said, “The progress board is a whiteboard with different steps on it like a proposal, and formatting on SnoSites, which is the domain we use to run our website. It just allows the section editors to know where everyone is at within their story cycle and as they move down the progress board we make sure they are on track to publish on time once it hits the bottom Amaya and I know it’s our time to step in and finish the stories.”

The newspaper utilizes brainstorms every month to generate story ideas. They are a key piece to the writing process.

Amaya Wagner a Senior at MHS, said, “{Brainstorms} are just the whole class we all just sit around and everyone just calls out ideas they have not necessarily if its the one they want to write, just any story ideas they have for that specific month, we write it on the board, everyone claims their story, and then we populate the progress board and our planner for the month.”


Special Roles 

There are several different roles within Newspaper. First, there is the regular staff writer. Second, is Section editors, there are five section editors, Ninel Verdinez (Informative), Kaitlyn Ford (Sports), Stella DeLong (Feature), Opinion (Maya Simpson), and Estella Bland (Arts and Entertainment). Lastly, copy editor and chief editor. Chief editor is like the head of the totem pole, and the copy editor is just right below the chief but has a similar role. 

Amaya, our Chief editor, said, “As the chief editor I edit everybody’s stories. I also help people with their interview questions, story ideas, titles, thumbnails, things like that, just be there to help them with anything they need. Me and Mahayla both finalize stories, we’re the only people that can publish stories,” she continued to say, “Something I also do is lead brainstorms whenever we come up with new story ideas as a class, and I also created the whole planner, progress board, and reflection form.” 

Both Amaya and Mahayla have similar roles but there are some slight differences. 

Mahayla said, “As copy editor, I feel like I’m basically Amaya’s assistant. I just help her cover tasks when she can’t get to them. Sometimes I lead brainstorms when she isn’t here. Just helping people figure out their stories, helping them publish, and making sure all of the stories we are publishing are of good quality.”

Newspaper Seniors


MHS Auroran Today was previously housed on google sites. Although that system worked, it wasn’t as nice or ran as efficiently as SnoSites. 

This year we upgraded to SnoSites, which allowed for more possibilities with formatting of the entity as a whole as well as individual stories. 

The person we have to thank for our sites running so well is Charley Pierce. She has taken it upon herself to figure out the logistics of the website and teach the rest of us how to use it.

Charley, a senior at MHS said, “I run the website. So basically at the start, this is our first year with SnoSites, so I went through all the SnoSites templates and chose what I thought fit us best, and what was the easiest for us to manage. If someone has a formatting problem I’m usually the one they go to. If someone can’t think of an idea of how to format, or how to make a thumbnail, I’m always the person they go to. I also just go through and check and make sure things are running correctly on the website, and no links are misplaced. I just make sure everything functions correctly.”



Besides the website, Newspaper uses Instagram and potty press to reach the student body. 

Ninel Verdinez runs the MHS Auroran Today Instagram. Once stories get published she takes those stories and posts them. She utilizes the progress board to see when stories are published and once she posts them she moves them to be posted, about being posted on Instagram. 

Another way The Auroran circulates stories is through the potty press. It is run mostly by Alex Galloway and Addie Weggen. 

Alex Galloway, a Junior at MHS, said, “The potty press is either like a little excerpt of someone’s story, or their whole story on a cute little piece of paper and we hang them up in the bathrooms so people can read while they tinkle.”

Many people love reading the potty press and find it makes their bathroom excursions more enjoyable.

Alex also said, “We do the potty press so we can engage the student body with our newspaper. I feel like if people like read it in the bathroom, they’ll just want to know more about the story. Or if they liked the writing they might go to the website and see the author and read more of their story. But I think overall it gives more publicity to our site.” 


Importance to the school 

Newspaper can be utilized to spotlight kids who may not be as involved or well-known.

Some of these students are in the Newspaper, for example, Kelsy Esmoil, a sophomore at MHS. Newspaper is her only activity at the school.

Kelsy said, “Newspaper makes me more connected to the school because it connects me like how I just write in general with the school and it feels good cause I get the sense of like I get excited when I see my stories trending or this and it’s like ‘oh I’m doing something that is involved with the school’ but in a way that I like it and I think it’s just really connecting what I am personally doing and something useful and for the school.”

Newspaper is very beneficial for students to become better students. 

Kelsy said, “Even when I took journalism one before the newspaper, home girl was a hot mess. I don’t know, I feel like it keeps me organized and busy.”


Is it a hard class? 

Newspapers are more rigorous than one may think. It takes a lot of self-motivation and time management. Most staff members struggle at points with keeping up with everything. 

Rauenbuehler said, “I think to be successful in the class you have to have a certain interest but also have some sort of motivation. Cause I feel like a lot of people assume that if you give students a choice then they automatically are motivated, I don’t think that’s always true. So it would be unrealistic, I would be lying if I said that I wanted students in here that I don’t feel like had to follow through.”

It is hard for staff members to keep up with their grades but they are also working for other people or the entity. 

Raunbuehler continued, “I don’t think it’s fair to like us as an entity like it’s embarrassing collectively as a group when we fall behind. Like expectations as a publication, even though technically another staff member not publishing or publishing doesn’t technically directly impact another staff member, it does though cause as everyone should. Hopefully, we have a culture where they feel like they belong to something greater than themselves. And so when someone doesn’t follow through on their end it makes me feel insecure or embarrassed.”

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About the Contributor
Maya Simpson
Maya Simpson, Opinion Editor
Maya Simpson is a sophomore at MHS and it is her first year writing for the MHS Auroran Today. She participates in swimming, tennis, marching band, model UN, and jazz at the high school. She enjoys laughing with her family, messing around with friends, and participating in her activities. She makes sure she focuses on school with a busy schedule. Currently, Maya is working on being more organized she started by deleting her entire drive.
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