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THE ABC’S OF JOURNALISM

When her first article was published on the R-Jeneration page, Liberty High School senior Christina Houge (then a junior) was thrilled.

“I was so excited, I called everybody,” Houge said. She told them to look in that day’s Las Vegas Review-Journal and check out the story that had run under her byline. Afterward, she carried a copy of the article in her backpack for weeks, pulling it out for anyone who expressed an interest in it.

Even now, months after the article came out, Houge, who also participates in her school’s choir and swim team, is still proud of her achievement.

“I have it hanging up in my room now,” she admitted with some embarrassment, “I framed it.”

Houge is one of dozens of students who write for R-Jeneration, a Review-Journal program that produces a weekly page by, for and often about teenagers.

The first R-Jeneration page ran Feb. 20, 2000.

“We wanted to provide more stories in our paper that would be interesting to Clark County teens,” said Charles Zobell, managing editor of the Review-Journal. Zobell, along with assistant features editor Lindsey Losnedahl, meets with the teens once a week to review that week’s page and give the students quick courses on basic journalism concepts before the R-Jeners meet with their mentors. The mentors are real-life journalists who write for the Review-Journal and spend one-on-one time with each student, helping them with whatever problems they might be having with their articles and offering advice.

“I learn something every time I come,” Houge said.

Losnedahl said she can clearly see the students’ writing improve over the school year. At the beginning of the year, articles tend to read like English-class compositions. By the end of it, most students have adapted to newspaper-style writing.

Each May, R-Jeneration team members are recognized for their hard work at the Review-Journal’s annual high school journalism awards luncheon. Two seniors from the group are selected to receive $2,000 scholarships from the Review-Journal.

One of Losnedahl’s favorite R-Jeneration memories is when a team member was completely surprised by being awarded one of the scholarships.

“We thought she was going to faint,” Losnedahl said with a smile.

Cristina Rodriguez, a senior at Cheyenne High School, started writing for R-Jeneration last school year.

“The best part is probably meeting new people,” she said. According to her, while all of the R-Jeners have a passion for journalism in common, they are otherwise completely different people.

Allison Cox is a freshman at Palo Verde High School. Unlike many R-Jeners, Cox isn’t entirely sure that journalism is for her. Cox also is interested in fashion design and has even designed and sewn her own dress.

Green Valley High School senior Olivia Scott is co-editor in chief of her school paper and a pole-vaulter for the school’s track-and-field team.

“I went to state my freshman year,” Scott said. However, her pole-vaulting has gone downhill since, after an ATV accident her sophomore year dislocated her shoulder shortly before a competition. Scott has high hopes that she’s recovered enough to do well this year.

Another R-Jener, Advanced Technologies Academy junior Kim Deguzman, has been playing the guitar since she was in seventh grade.

“I’m trying to compose music, but I have no ability at that,” Deguzman said.

While every student in R-Jeneration is a journalist, not every journalist is a writer. John Callahan, a senior at Arbor View High School, takes photos for the page.

“My dad started a photo company, so I helped,” Callahan said. “I was hooked from then on.”

Courtney Melahn, another senior at Green Valley High School, has never taken a journalism class and doesn’t write for her school paper. Melahn wants to be a journalist, though, and when she heard about R-Jeneration, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I’m trying to develop better writing skills,” Melahn said.

Zobell often is asked why the paper doesn’t give young people more good press. According to Zobell, those people clearly haven’t read the R-Jeneration page.

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