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The Paly Voice

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High school student develops journalism summer camp

A student reads from a magazine produced by the STAND UP, SPEAK OUT DreamCatchers summer camp that took place from June 12 to July 5 at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School. According to DreamCatchers program manager Fatima Sandoval, the magazines are composed of journalism stories written by the camp students and are a source of pride and symbol of achievement for DreamCatchers. “They [the camp students] were able to make their own magazine, which I feel like was a very proud moment, not just for the students, but for DreamCatchers,” Sandoval said. “We still have them [the magazines] at our office displayed for anybody that walks by and wants to take some.” (Photo: Grace Gormley)

Seventy-six percent of journalists in the U.S. are white, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April. The study found that 8% of the journalists surveyed were Hispanic, and another 6% were black.

Grace Gormley, a senior at Palo Alto High School, is determined to change that statistic. 

Gormley took the initiative by creating STAND UP, SPEAK NOW, a journalism summer camp that took place from June 12 to July 5 at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School in Palo Alto. The project aims to diversify the field of journalism by amplifying the voices of minorities.

“Journalism has a duty to tell diverse stories, and to do that, we need to have diverse voices covering these stories,” Gormley said.

According to Gormley, she partnered with DreamCatchers, an organization that provides academic guidance for underprivileged Palo Alto middle schoolers.

“I wrote a journalism curriculum teaching [about] how to write a story, how to find something you’re passionate about that you want to write about, and how to interview,” Gormley said. “They [DreamCatchers] adopted it as the ELA [English Language Arts] portion of the summer program.”

Gormley said she obtained a grant from Paly’s Media Arts Boosters and received additional funding from other small businesses and donors.

“Initially, I asked [the MAC boosters] for $400 to print the magazines because I thought the camp would be a standalone thing and would only get 20 kids,” Gormley said. “But then we joined up with DreamCatchers and we ended up having [around] 75 kids, so my estimate had tripled, and I had to triple my funds.”

Gormley said she recruited fellow Paly journalism students to help her teach and run the camp. According to senior Aneesh Tiwari, a camp counselor, he enjoyed teaching the camp students.

“It was exciting to see the variety of relevant and impactful topics the campers chose to write about,” Tiwari said. “It was very rewarding to support the campers by sharing the importance of journalism, and using one’s voice to talk about something that they are passionate about.”

The program ran for 10 days across two weeks, and by the end, had produced three magazines, one for each grade.

Gormley said she designed the curriculum so that the lesson plans could be reused for future students.

“The idea behind creating a website and making it accessible [is] so that it [the program] can continue next year without me having to be heading all of it,” Gormley said. “I want it to be [taking place] year after year.”

DreamCatchers program manager Fatima Sandoval said she looked forward to implementing the reusable curriculum Gormley had created.

“Grace [Gormley] really built everything where we can continue using her curriculum, and we can continue showing it to our students,” Sandoval said. “She laid everything [out] very easily, as something that we can access every year. I will definitely continue using her curriculum for years to come.”

According to Sandoval, Gormley consistently strived to foster a friendly and welcoming environment for the students during camp, actively encouraging their educational growth in both journalistic and social intelligence skills.

“She [Gormley] created a sense of growth, [of] learning something new and being able to adapt and learn new techniques: interview people and learn and gather information to have a real solid prompt that they [the students] could write and publish,” Sandoval said. “It introduced our students to being more involved, expanding their learning and making sure that they were using their own words and being creative. They were able to pick their own topic, they were able to talk about what they’re passionate about, or what they believe it’s something that everybody should learn about.”

Tiwari shared a similar sentiment, saying the camp students were able to gain a deeper and broader understanding of journalism.

“I believe the students benefited from attending the camp, as the process of crafting a story was very gratifying,” Tiwari said. “They were able to go through the whole process themselves and eventually get the opportunity to read their stories in front of the group and see it published in a magazine. I also think that learning the foundations of journalism and having exposure to writing an article before attending high school will be really beneficial in many aspects, as these skills can transfer to other parts of life and education.”

Gormley said she is incredibly grateful for the support and funding she received that helped the program run smoothly.

“The list of people who I’m grateful to is endless at this point because the project is a lot bigger than just me now,” Gormley said. “The tutors and dream [DreamCatchers] teachers who helped make sure that I had support in the classrooms and also the program managers who were running the classrooms. I’m just super grateful that it got to be such a big idea and have such an impact.”

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About the Contributors
Kristine Lin
Kristine Lin, Managing Editor
Kristine Lin (Class of 2025) joined The Paly Voice her sophomore year. Outside of journalism, she enjoys going on scenic hikes, taking road trips, and traveling to new places.
Carissa Tsui
Carissa Tsui, Senior Staff Writer
Carissa Tsui (Class of 2024) joined The Voice her junior year and her favorite show is Survivor. Also, her favorite color is red and her favorite animal is the ocean sponge.

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