Owatonna Magnet Celebrates National Award
A pandemic didn't stop the OHS Magnet from reporting on Owatonna High School events, so a little rain wasn't going to prevent the staff from celebrating a national award with a drive-thru ice cream cone event recently. It's the sixth straight year the Magnet has been honored by School Newspapers Online (SNO) for their excellence.
SNO grades groups in the areas of audience engagement, page design, site design, coverage of events, writing excellence, and multimedia efforts. The Magnet's website is one of my 'go-to's when things are happening at OHS. One student said that due to distance learning, the number of events to cover went down. It's easy to see the dedication the staff had toward reporting and for each other based on the turnout at the ice cream drive-thru.
Junior Parker Erickson said it's a team effort, "We do very well working together with everyone in the group. We accomplish things and get them done on time...the quality of work and connections we have, is just fantastic." He works extensively on graphic design including eye-appeal, "Every different season or different holiday, we put a different design on our logo." Erickson says he works a lot with Hunter Martin on site design.
Senior Emily Maine started as a sports reporter for the football team and worked into being a sports editor and editor-in-chief. She's learned some great leadership skills, "It was pretty new to me. Magnet itself was just a really new experience to me. I didn't think of myself as much of a writer. That changed. And then since then I've become a much better writer. The leadership aspect is very important."
Maine covered the Huskies during their run to the state title in 2018 at US Bank Stadium, "I wasn't very outgoing. I didn't know what to do, where I could go. But then Wags (advisor Jessica Wagner) said, 'you can do this, you can do this. Just listen to security.' So she had confidence in me." She plans to attend UM-Duluth and possibly get into communications.
Junior Logan McGaheran is a writer and editor for the Magnet. He says working both sides of a story leads to a good product, "Sometimes that's needed just to make an article even better. To have someone's view that's maybe different from your own and see how you can make this an article that everyone can enjoy." He joined Magnet through encouragement from friends and his father who was on the staff during his days at OHS. McGaheran says there are three print versions of the Magnet each year nowadays.
Elyssa Munch was recruited by Wagner after taking a journalism class and is in her second year, "I've definitely learned how to approach formally for interviews and write more formal emails and to reach out to strangers and kind of come out of my shell a little more." She has been a writer, a section editor, and an editor-in-chief. The last of which was been very special, "because I get to see stories from all across the board and just being able to find all the things that are going on."
Munch is excited to continue the award-winning tradition, "I'm very proud of us for being able to get that award despite all the obstacles that have come our way." During normal times the Magnet produces about eight stories per week. That number might be down a bit currently with the limitation of events.
Senior Carter DeBus is wrapping up two years on Magnet as a writer, photographer, and working with Photo Shop. Some stories can strike a cord, "I did one on Joe Edel, a trap shooting story and got a beautiful picture for it. It was one to the late head coach (Dave Schroeder) for the trap shooting team how he passed away. So there was a feature on him and there was a great article on Joe's senior year in trap shooting." DeBus is going to Minnesota State University-Mankato to study Marketing and Communications with a minor in business.
Senior Sol Havelka has spent two years in Magnet, "My brother was in it. I got Carter in it. It's something to try, something fun, a good thing to do. It's a good experience, good people." He's been a writer, recruiter and editor among other tasks. Havelka echoed comments about teamwork, "How much there actually is behind the scenes to get things ready. How well everybody came together to get those things done. It was always really cool to see all the Magnet people, like this, having fun together." Havelka is going to attend St. John's University.
Senior Matt Williams has recruited others to join Magnet, "Me and Isaac Goettl, we would recruit people. So we would go into classrooms and give a presentation. Me and (Zach) Wiese did some videos, some chicken sandwich reviews, and stuff like that." (Editor's note: Williams is the baseball player who once brought a sandwich into the outfield after telling his teammates the game was going along very slowly. The story came up a few times during the Huskies' senior day event at Dartt's Park recently.)
OHS Magnet advisor, and Owatonna teacher of the year, Jessica Wagner says, "The Magent staff sets out to earn the status of a National Distinguished Site every year. So this is another step in that direction. I am very proud of my journalists. They have been doing a great job all year, and I love to celebrate all they accomplish. They are a hard-working and talented group."
Stories that have received special attention include the following.
- 'Social Isolation: is your phone making you lonely?' by Ethan Tohman, Bella Anderson, and Ashwini Manokar
- 'One Year Later' by Manokar (edited by Maine)
- 'Distance Learning and Learning Disabilities' by Meghan Rostvit (edited by Nicole Skalicky)
Pictured in the lead photo (left to right): Nicole Skalicky, MacKenzie Haberman, Julia Dallenbach, Elyssa Munch, and Emily Maine.