There are hundreds of stories in and about the hallways of Everett High School, and the Crimson Times newspaper is reporting them like never before.
The newspaper is under the direction this year of Editor in Chief Amera Lila, a senior, and Journalism teacher Chris Wright, and they are coming off of one of the paper’s most successful years – winning awards from the New England Scholastic Press Association last spring.
“I really want people to take the paper seriously this year, and make the paper into the best publication it can be,” said Lila. “The paper has gotten so much better since my freshman year, but I want to take it further.”
Wright has been teaching in Everett for 15 years, and this will be his 6th year of leading the Crimson Times – taking over from long-time advisor Ryan McGowan and shepherding the students along in a way that has taken the paper to another level.
“At one point, I felt like I was up for a change in my teaching areas and felt I could do a better job than what was being done at the time,” he said. “I never studied journalism and don’t have a background as a journalism. However, I like producing things and publicizing student writing. That has been the best part because there is now an outlet for student writing. The best part of my job is teaching journalism class and getting kids to get involved in the paper. Slowly, we’ve built it up and we’re up to 30 pages every edition and three editions a year. Even in the last two years, it’s been growing a lot.”
The Crimson Times has a staff of around 15 to 20 core members with a total of around 40 students involved. They print editions in the Fall, Winter and Spring, while posting things online and in social media on a more frequent basis.
The cover the School Committee, student life, student opinions, some City of Everett issues, high school sports, music and reviews. The paper has even had press conferences in the past year with EHS Principal Erick Naumann, and one of the reporters was able to interview University of Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh for the spring edition.
“One of the students got Jim Harbaugh on the phone and did an hour-long interview with him, and he is the head coach of the University of Michigan football team,” said Wright. “We also had an interview with Lukas Denis, the former Everett football player who is trying to make it in the NFL. Those were big steps forward in doing in-depth interviews.”
Among the other things are op-eds regarding LGBTQ issues that garnered quite a bit if talk amongst students, and teaching visits from the Boston Globe Spotlight team and the Globe Sports Department.
Wright said they have also enjoyed the incredible support of the School Administration, which has rarely said ‘no’ to any of their requests.
Part of the resurgence is due to students like Lila who have taken the paper as an outlet for a long-time dream to practice journalism. After having been recruited into creative writing at the Madeline English School by McGowan, she started off as a freshman working on the paper.
“I always convinced myself I wouldn’t be a journalist, but here I am wanting to major in that at college,” she said. “I came in with zero background. I cringe every time I read the first article I wrote.”
Now, however, she writes and edits for the Crimson Times, and also does some freelance writing on the side – as well as participating in the summer writing program Grub Street.
Overall, the paper has brought the student body closer together, Lila said, by writing about things students and faculty are doing that otherwise might go unknown.
“When you go through and edit and read what people have accomplished, it’s pretty impressive,” she said. “You see them in the hallway and don’t think about what they might be doing, but then you read about them. It’s so interesting to meet people and find something interesting to talk to them about…The paper also shows how really diverse and ethnically diverse Everett is. You look at Everett High and you can’t avoid seeing the diversity.”
More than anything this year, Lila said she hopes the paper can grow in popularity not only at Everett High, but also in the overall City. “I don’t want people to think the paper is a joke because I’m 17 and because we’ve never worked on a newspaper before,” she said. “I want them to see it’s top-notch quality and that’s what we want to produce this year.”