Print Paper Returns After Three-Year Hiatus


The October 2022 issue of The Smoke Signal is Ripon High School’s first print paper since May 2019—first for everyone currently attending RHS—so we found it fitting for this to be the “Homecoming” edition. At last! Journalism students feel that having a print paper again has fulfilled a void that the class had been missing. 

“This is the first year that we’ve actually been working on a print newspaper, and it makes it feel more realistic for an actual career path,” says Annie Wild, senior. “It’s stressful working on a print deadline, but it’s a good kind of stress. I’m putting my time and effort into something constructive.”

Wild is one of five returning journalists who appreciate the change. She is also the advertisement manager responsible for uploading and organizing sponsorship ads. 

This year’s editor in chief is Leslie Diaz-Guerrero, senior, who helps journalists with their articles and assigns pages to them. She organizes the documents and photos in our Google Drive, and she is responsible for creating the “Sports Center” section on our website along with updating the daily announcements archive. She’s reliable, hardworking, and a big reason that communication has improved for all students.

“The class has changed a lot,” Diaz-Guerrero says. “We’ve gone through two different teachers, and I think this year we’ve really started working together as a team.”

There were some big shoes to fill when I took over in 2021. The last print issue was published under the advisor Jenna Valponi, who left RHS in 2019 to teach kindergarten at Weston Elementary. The class underwent many changes with Valponi at the helm, including our name change from The Tomahawk to The Smoke Signal and an increased digital presence by 2019.

Ann Pendleton, who you might recognize as one half of the Ripon High SuperFan duo (and RHS science chair), took over the class when Valponi left, but she had her lesson plans derailed due to covid.

“What made it really difficult was when school shut down [in 2020], all school activities shut down,” Pendleton says. “It was a challenge, but the kids were really creative to keep things going when there were no school events. I think some of them were forced to leave their comfort zones a little bit by having to search for interesting things to write about.”

It’s awesome that the kids who have stuck with the program are rewarded this year by getting to contribute to a print newspaper; that was one of my biggest goals when I took over the class. Last year I found my footing a bit, and we’re getting better all the time. The class has also been updating and improving our website as well as increasing our social media presence (@RiponSmokeSignal). Next quarter we’re looking forward to introducing on-the-street-style video interviews.

 “Journalism is my favorite class I’m taking right now because we get to interview, take pictures and write articles,” says Hailey Williford, sophomore. “I had no idea we would be taking pictures in the class, but I’m so happy we do. It’s my favorite part.”

Along with photography and news writing, journalism also teaches the code of ethics, news values and AP Stylebook formatting. If you are interested in joining the class next year, keep an eye out for applications in the spring.

Thank you to all of our sponsors and donors for helping support us!