Abigail Maimone completed her very first year of teaching at Golden Valley High School before she saw a crucial part missing to the high school’s campus – a student-run newspaper.
Maimone, a graduate of the University of Delaware, came to Santa Clarita last year to teach English at Golden Valley High School, her first year of teaching.
“I just truly could not have asked for a better school to just get my footing for learning how to be a teacher,” said Maimone.
Before the year ended, Golden Valley Principal Sal Frias had expressed that he wanted to launch a student newspaper at the high school. Maimone jumped on the chance and was named the teacher and advisor for The Grizzly Gazette, despite having no prior journalism experience.
“It’s been a learning curve for me alongside the kids,” said Maimone.
Maimone worked the entire 2022 summer creating the curriculum for the class. She sought help from her roommate, who is a journalist, to ensure she was going to teach all the fundamentals of journalism, so the students could operate as a newsroom.
The class is available as an elective for juniors, and for seniors it can be counted for their English credit.
The Grizzly Gazette debuted in the 2022 school year, in August. It is broken down into four news teams: campus, community, sports, and media arts and culture. There are two managing editors for each news team. One junior and one senior are chosen to be the editors-in-chief.
“I enjoy being part of the team because it feels like a family,” said staff writer Arthur Betancourt. “Everyone is focused and set on what they want to do. It’s refreshing to learn in a setting (that) has set clear goals.”
Although Maimone is the advisor for the class, she has always wanted to work with the students to make The Grizzly Gazette into what they want it to be.
“I think that has also gotten them so excited about it, to be able to build something, from scratch, that’ll hopefully last for years to come,” said Maimone.
The students are given the opportunity to write about what they choose, as long as it is approved by their editors and Maimone.
“All you need is confidence and something interesting to you and there you have the perfect story,” said staff writer Haylie Adame.
The Grizzly Gazette has covered topics including student athletes, Apple, workshops for FAFSA, Broadway’s longest running show coming to an end and school spirit on campus.
Maimone hopes that what she is teaching conveys the importance of journalism and why these stories matter.
“I think it’s important that they see a purpose and a passion in being involved in their community, and knowing what’s going on and making their voices heard, but also finding the voices that aren’t heard and being able to shine a light on that,” said Maimone. “It matters to me that they are stubborn about the things that matter and that they are open minded, that they go out into the world and, be good people.”
Her students’ testimonies say she did just that.
“Student journalists have a strong voice in their communities and what they say can both inform and even make change in the country as a whole,” said staff writer Genesis Perez.
“I feel that I have gained a lot of people skills more than anything throughout my time as a journalist student this year,” said Isela Fisk, managing editor for student submissions. “As someone who struggles with social anxiety and just a general fear of communication and confrontation, I feel that journalism has sort of forced me to be more outgoing and approachable in the sense that I am gathering intel and setting up interviews with people that I normally wouldn’t talk to.”
“For my up-and-coming articles, I’ve gotten to talk to some entrepreneurs, indie filmmakers, community leaders, law enforcement and hurricane survivors all in the span of the last month and a half,” Fisk added. “Normally this would be a very difficult thing for me to take on, as I am normally very reserved socially, but I feel that it is easier for me to connect with people on this professional level as I am inspired by the idea that I am talking to these people in order to write an article and writing is something I’m passionate about.”
Maimone has provided her students with all of the foundational skills of being a journalist, and now they stay true to their title as a student-run newsroom.
“I ask and expect a lot of them, I hold them to very high standards, but they meet them and they exceed them all the time,” said Maimone.