Letters from the editors: My, oh my, how time flies

A behind the scenes look at “Shawnee: Keep it Local”


Tricia Drumm, Morgan Gurwell, and Ally Nguyen

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — first semester is over, the Christmas tree is glittering, the kitchen is warm with joy and special projects are finished. If you haven’t seen our special project, “Shawnee: Keep it Local,” yet, then you’re missing out. We covered everywhere from ShananiGanns boutique and the Wonderscope children’s museum to Tire Town/K-10 Highway and Kick it Foos. JagWire reporter Elizabeth Joseph even stepped up to the plate and interviewed Shawnee’s first female mayor Michelle Distler. The yearbook girls and newspaper kiddos put a lot of thought into their projects, and the turnout was phenomenal.

The idea behind “Shawnee: Keep it Local” is centered around one thing (or place, rather): Shawnee. Staffers could only choose a place within Shawnee, and it couldn’t be just any place. Their project had to have cultural value or be unique to Shawnee. We couldn’t simply cover the Starbucks everybody and their cool, hip aunt frequent; we had to think outside the box, which was a little hard at times. A couple of ideas fell through, which set some staffers back a bit. Shawnee Mission Beach Volleyball was an initial idea, but we realized we couldn’t get any pictures of people playing in the winter. We were also going to do Lynn’s Garden Shed, but winter foiled our plans once again. Considering it’s mid-December, winter seems to be a common theme.

A rather audacious move we tried was mixing staffs. What made this idea so monumental is that we’ve never tried it before. It’s always been yearbook and newspaper in their respective universes. Think of it as a cross-over episode between your two favorite TV shows — we like the sound of it. This year was the best year to integrate staffs because both newspaper and yearbook each had 23 people on their staff. In the end, it came down to two people: a photog with a project and a writer with nothing to do. It worked perfectly. We left the option open to anyone who wanted to do it, and… most people stayed within their staff. But those who stepped forward and crossed the division between newspaper and yearbook performed wonderfully.

Overall, the special project was successful, and we have a couple ideas as to why. The first reason is because City of Shawnee gave the project somewhat of a shoutout on their Twitter. We EICs were beaming when our adviser sent us a screenshot of the tweet.

We like to think that introduced some people to our website and (hopefully) improved our readership. A second reason is just the content in general. Not to be confused with the 2016 newspaper special project “A Place for Everything,” but “Shawnee: Keep it Local” does feature something for everyone. The content applies to such a wide range of people. This demographic includes foodies and tourists to someone just looking for something to do. Our last idea is just because everyone is so awesome and always puts out their best work.

Well, now that school’s out for the next couple of weeks, things have certainly slowed down. Without any web stories to edit or special projects to post, what are we going to do for the next two-ish weeks until yearbook’s web week rolls around? We’ll spare you the details, but it involves the three S’s: sleeping, seeing relatives and suiting up for the next riveting semester.

Much love (and happy holidays),

Tricia Drumm, Morgan Gurwell and Ally Nguyen (your very merry Mill Valley News editors-in-chief)

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