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Students stop presses to tell Hazelwood story,
principal wears black armbands with them

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by Terry Nelson
Hazelwood stories: Yorktown High School newspaper/ Broadcaster students of 1988, do you remember the Hazelwood First Amendment Supreme Court decision?

It was 25 years ago… Here’s how I recall our story…hazelwoodcolor

I can’t believe it was 25 years ago. My students and I had discussed the Hazelwood case extensively in class, so on the day the results were supposed to be decided by the Supreme Court, I was teaching a night class at BSU, and unknown by me, my editors went to the Muncie newspaper’s office and were allowed to sit on the floor and wait as the news came over the AP wire (back then there weren’t computers used to transmit news yet).

When the decision came in and it was a judgment against the students, my own newspaper students tried to get ahold of me in class, but couldn’t (before cell phones too!), so they called the printer and literally “stopped the presses” on our Friday edition, went back to school and started rewriting the front page with the Hazelwood decision and the impact on all sorts of First Amendment student situations at school.

At 10 p.m. when I returned home, a couple of kids were waiting outside, tapping on my windows. When they came in and explained all that they had done, I was so proud.

But the story isn’t over yet. We decided we would call the entire staff and ask them to wear black tomorrow (Friday) when the paper came out to signify our mourning for the “death of student rights.”

We also decided to call our principal, Dr. Jerry Secttor, and he agreed to wear black too. We had our group picture with the principal taken outside the front office by the American Flag in black the next morning.

The printer had already printed the front page of the paper announcing the resignation of our school superintendent before the students’ call, so we had TWO editions of the paper to distribute to the students that day.

I love high school students. I love quality high school journalism programs. And I love the sense of reality and importance our students’ journalism study produces.

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