When Vidalia High junior Sam Cooley joined the newspaper club at his school he knew some changes needed to be made.
As the lone returner who had written an article, Cooley took on the role of chief editor for the Viking Vibe (also known as Viking Publications), he made some quick adjustments.
Cooley also learned a school paper would not be released until more articles were written.
"I was disappointed with the paper when I joined," Cooley said. "I want to leave Vidalia High with a product people can be proud of. I decided to take the lead and write as many articles needed, as well as design and edit the first newspaper.
“I think a school newspaper is an important part of any school since it promotes school pride and getting many students involved. As chief editor, I decided that the previous editions were not good enough and something had to change. It was a lot of hard work and took a lot of dedication and new ideas like the puzzle page and the Artist of the Month."
The monthly eight-page print-out went from having a handful of readers to a popular news edition with local ads and several features.
"After the first edition was released, I began to create a program with the English teachers to where a student can earn extra credit if they turn in a newspaper article," Cooley said. "The process of creating a newspaper is tedious but simple. We use a website known as www.makemynewspaper.com, which has premade templates which I edit and design to make my own template. We then collect articles from both the staff and freelance writers to fill in the template.
“Ads are sold for $15 a month. There is a calendar detailing the events of the next month. After we finish creating and editing the newest edition, we send it to the Vidalia Media Center to make around 150-250 copies along with around 50 copies printed at the high school and a colored copy for each business that bought an advertisement."
The teacher sponsors of the paper are Amanda Coley and Andree McCullar.
Cooley said the staff is important to the paper.
The editors of the paper are Nathan Nations, Kerinna Parker and Casey LaRue. Photographers are Andrew Mathis, Nations, Kami Krinsavage, Aja Purvis, Kyerra Hicks, and Hannah Stanley.
Writers are Kami Krinsavage, Kerinna Parker, Nathan Nations, and Hannah Stanley.
"This paper would not be possible without these people," Cooley said.
Cooley’s parents are Vidalia principal Bernie Cooley and Vidalia second grade teacher Shannon Cooley.
"Both of my parents being in education meant that they thought education was very important, which drove me to maintain at least an A or B grade in every class and take each class seriously," Cooley said. "Both of them, being in education, also made me have a very high opinion of teachers and what they do."
Needless to say English is one of Cooley's favorite subjects.
"I became interested in writing when I was very young and my mom read me various books from Dr. Seuss and other children authors," Sam said. "After reading the books, I decided that I wanted to be able to write something like that one day, and I began writing books, though never finishing any. After a few years of this, I fell in love with writing and I hope to be an author one day."
Sam said he could not have picked a better school year to be editor.
"There have been many great years at Vidalia High, but few have been or will ever be as great as the 2017-2018 school year," Cooley said. "Vidalia High School has been able to make some very impressive achievements in both athletics and academics this year which has made this year one that no student will forget. Athletics have always played a significant role in Vidalia’s history, and this year was no different.
“The school’s athletics had a promising start early this year when the football team coached by the local legend Dee Faircloth achieved a winning 9-3 record for the first time in years. After the football season, a new sports team was created in Vidalia High School and was the first soccer team to ever be a part of Vidalia. Basketball also did well this year and managed to make it to the playoffs, as well as the other two teams. With all of these athletic successes and the baseball and softball teams looking to follow in their footsteps, the 2017-2018 school year has been phenomenal for athletes in the school."
Cooley said Vidalia High also gained many achievements in other areas.
"One of these achievements was the considerable number of students that are going to the Louisiana State Academic Rally," Cooley said. "Vidalia sent some of their brightest students to the District Academic Rally recently and 11 students were able to qualify for the State Rally. Ten of the students in DECA Club became finalist in the Louisiana State DECA Conference, with five of these students getting either first, second or third places in their individual events. Not only that, but a Vidalia High School sophomore named Deondrais Boxley acquired the position of Vice President of the Louisiana DECA Club, which is the first time a student has done so in VHS history."
Cooley said another high point at the school was when students Angel Heckard and Deondrais Boxley, worked alongside Vidalia High teacher Patricia West to create Vidalia High School’s first Black History Month Program.
"This program was one of the best ones that Vidalia had ever witnessed, and is comparable to its Veteran’s Day Program, which is also regarded as a very spectacular program," Cooley said.
Cooley said one of the best parts of the 2017-2018 Vidalia High School year is the sheer amount of opportunity students have been given this year.
"We have multiple new programs in place that offer students free college hours and Vidalia has hosted several college representatives as they tell the students about what the future may hold for them," Cooley said. "This has been done before, but not on this large of a scale, and it has opened a gateway for many students to a quicker and easier way towards the future. Vidalia High School has had many great years in the past, but this one will go down in school history as one of the best.
“This is because of the students’ efforts to improve the school and make sure that it stays a staple of Concordia Parish. The school is not perfect by any means, and there are many things that can still be improved, but years like this are what make me proud to be a Vidalia Viking."