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Over a Century of Stories at Southington High School

For 100 years, Southington's high school students have shared their stories and news through the school paper, the Emblem. Now the paper is preparing for the future.

For more than a century now, one local newspaper has helped deliver interesting stories and the latest need-to-know news and events at .

It’s not the Record-Journal, the Southington Observer or even the Hartford Courant making this claim, however. Instead the 100 years of success belongs to The Emblem, a student-run newspaper that has continued to provide a focus on all the news that matters to Southington’s high school students.

Despite a rich history that actually dates as far back as 1898, Emblem Advisor and Southington High School Journalism Teacher Raymond Dischino said the goal remains the same: to encourage students to find the stories within and reinforce their skills as aspiring writers.

“So often, students have a vision that the news happens elsewhere and they may not know there is a great story lying within the student sitting right next to them,” Dischino said. “I want to really teach them the value of telling a good story.”

The school celebrated the 100th anniversary of the paper last week, but school library staff said the paper wasn’t without its challenges over the years.

For a 16-year period, a combination of staffing issues, printing challenges and other complications led the paper to combine with the school yearbook. The Emblem, which had been established in 1898, did not have its own version and as a result, there was a delay in the celebration of the 100th anniversary.

The exact history of the newspaper and those missing years remains vague, but what is not so incomplete is the success story that has followed. The paper now prints five or six editions per year, focusing on all aspects of student life.

Southington High School seniors Caitlyn Flynn and John Foti, editors with the 2011-12 staff, said working on a team to produce the newspaper has been an invaluable experience.

“It’s such a rewarding experience,” Foti said. “You have a hand in everything that’s going on in school, in everything going on in student life. You get to see and hear things, stories that you would not otherwise have even known about.”

Flynn and Foti are each choosing different routes after high school – Flynn will attend Marist College where she will major in communications, while Foti will focus on political science and economics at American University – but both said the experience has better prepared them and helped fine tune their writing and editing skills.

Although the newspaper still provides the delivery of news through traditional print, Dischino and the students said with 100 years of history, its time to look to the future.

Flynn said journalism classes have helped give her some insight in how to produce “Podcasts,” a spoken form of news reporting designed for radio or Internet streaming, and said she hopes that The Emblem will soon be able to utilize the technology to provide constant story updates on the Southington Schools website.

Dischino said with the news industry changing, he hopes to implement this type of technology soon, as well as encouraging students to use all mediums available to help tell the best, most accurate stories that they can find.

No matter what the medium is, however, he said his primary focus would always be on the most important part of storytelling: the content.

“The most important lesson remains teaching the students to tell the stories well, to tell them factually and to get out and be a part of the community they are in. That is what will help them uncover all of the stories here at the high school,” he said. “There are so many great things out there that would never be found if not for the basic principles of storytelling.”

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