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Students find a valid voice

"About the prospect of having an armed police liaison officer roaming the campus, Bainbridge High School students are ambivalent.Not all students welcomed the pro-environment, anti-WTO message of the singer at a recent school assembly. And the color gray as a fashion statement is, like, so out.We have new insights on these and other issues on the minds of local youths, thanks to the inaugural edition of The Campus Voice, which editors Brian Alexander and Brooke Faltermeier hope will take root as the new student newspaper at BHS.We passed a good hour at the pub the other afternoon, reading the eight-page Voice from cover to cover. And we must say, we are quite impressed. We envy the writers, blessed as they are with an awareness, and perhaps a wisdom, beyond their years. We applaud the balance and thoughtfulness expressed in the news articles, which cover an array of serious campus issues. On the light side, if you want to understand this week's teen fashion tastes, Chris Benz' Chic vs. Reeks list is a scream. And with their forthright declaration that articles or opinion pieces that discriminate on the basis of race, gender or sexual preference will NOT be printed, the editors betray a youthful idealism, and a faith that the tired old world they're about to inherit can be changed for the better.In an age when celebrity news drowns out the discussion of real issues, and gossip often supplants fact, the Voice is enough to make one optimistic about the prospects for the fourth estate.In fact, we've often wondered why an amply supported high school like BHS doesn't have a journalism class or a student newspaper. Surely there's some district money out there for such an instructive program. As the Voice editors have an ambitious plan to put out 10 issues next year, we hope they've earned support and resources from the administration.But the challenges don't stop with funding - there's the question of content. High school journalists, we would note, inhabit a world in which freedom of the press doesn't apply. Back in 1988, in the landmark Hazlewood v. Kuhlmeier decision, the Supreme Court found prep newspapers to be part of a school's basic curriculum. As such, the court ruled, such publications are subject to prior review and censorship by administrators. (The Hazlewood case wound up before the Supreme Court after Missouri school officials - quite literally - cut out stories about the impact of pregnancy and parental divorce on teenagers, as being too controversial.)Should we see future editions, we hope the Voice staff will continue to show maturity in its reportage, steering clear of screed and puerile humor, seeking rather to inform and enlighten the campus and island community. Likewise, it's incumbent on the high school administration to give students some latitude in exploring issues of substance and relevance. Our kids have a lot to say, and stifling a new and valuable forum would just drive that discourse back underground.We think island parents should track down a copy of the Voice - no doubt many will be surprised by what their kids are talking about these days. The Campus Voice, Volume 1, No. 1, is an excellent effort and an informative newspaper. To Alexander, Faltermeier and staff - bravo!(But please don't get too good too soon, guys. You'll make us jaded old pros look positively gray by comparison.)"

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