“The newspaper is a greater treasure to the people than uncounted millions of gold.” – Henry Ward Beecher
Oceania, Sara, Lulu, Jolene, and Simone have much more in common than being WISS students. These five talented girls have launched The Sapphire, a digital newspaper created by WISS students for WISS students.
These girls dive into the pleasure of writing, creating fascinating articles that show the joy they find in writing, and telling stories.
The Pleasure of Writing
Writing for pleasure makes articles fun to read, and that is undoubtedly the main reason behind the success of The Sapphire.
These students have a passion for different tracks of the editorial process (writing, photography, or design) and have put all their talent together to create a newspaper.
The Sapphire results from sharing passion, talent, knowledge, and, most importantly, a love for writing. With all this put on the table, the outcome is a standout newspaper.
Writing helps us communicate and think creatively, and these writers are an excellent example of how they have integrated these abilities into their lives. Apart from being communicators, thinkers, and open-minded citizens, these students have the talent to capture the reader’s attention from the beginning to the end.
The Sapphire is not a work that is part of the curriculum. These girls work on it after school because they love to do it. Although some of them have some familiarity with working on newspapers before, it is their first time collaborating and creating one on their own. Working as a team, they have produced an engaging newsletter.
In the words of Colin Mosher, Head of Language Acquisition at WISS, “The Sapphire has been a great addition to the WISS community this school year. The students have been passionate about sharing their stories and experiences. It has strengthened school spirit in light of all the happenings in the world…”
Getting to Know The Sapphire‘s Team
How did you come up with the idea of The Sapphire?
I’ve always liked to write, and I used to write for The Paperclip when I was in 9th and 10th grade. When I had to start thinking about a CAS Project, it seemed like a very natural choice to do a student publication. Sara and Lulu also had a similar idea at around the same time, and they reached out so that we could merge and work on this together. For all of us, this kind of came from the realization that a lot of students at WISS had a lot of opinions and interests that the school just didn’t have an outlet for.
When a project involves a team, it is essential to manage teamwork skills. Could you explain to us how do you manage your work?
I would say that team management is a delicate balance between being firm with goals and plans while also being open to criticism and conversation from other members of the group. We have a core team of editors (Me, Lulu, and Sara), a graphic designer (Jolene), and a photographer/art director (Simone), who are all in our final years of the IB curriculum. I find that it helps to manage a large group of people with this kind of top-down approach—we make big decisions or plans with the 5 of us, and then we go through our plans with the writers, who are usually underclassmen. At the same time, though, I also think it’s important that everybody involved has a chance to say their piece, so we always try to establish direct lines of communication with our writers.
Only a step away from university, what are your plans? Are they related to communication?
Maybe! I’m planning to attend university in North America, and hopefully, I will be able to pursue a Master’s degree as well. I’m interested in pursuing a career in communications, but at this point, I’m still keeping my options open.
What would you say is the role of communication media nowadays?
I think that communication media is more important than ever, now that so many people have access to it through their digital devices. Even in the past, though, publications and mass media have always been incredibly important to keeping a general populace well-informed or to provide a platform for them. That’s one of the main reasons we wanted to start The Sapphire and why we are so adamant about keeping it student-run because it should be a place for students to have a platform within the school community.
The Sapphire is dedicated to Qanta Shah; for those who didn’t meet her, could you please tell us something about her and how she passed on her passion for writing and storytelling to you?
Ms. Shah was an English teacher at WISS and the editor of The Paperclip—the previous school newsletter. Most, if not all of us, have done work for or been directly involved in The Paperclip, and we take a lot of our cues in terms of content and philosophy from how she ran her paper. For me, specifically, the first time I ever put my writing out there for other people to see was in The Paperclip, so her leadership and guidance has a special place in my heart.
How would you encourage other students to write?
This is a great question, as it is something that is carefully considered by The Sapphire‘s core team. In general, the best place to start is by finding a subject or a message that you want to share with others. That is the fundamental reason why people write at all. Having a topic, or perhaps a desire to write in a certain literary form is the starting foundation of writing. If students struggle with writing, the absolute best solution is just to practice writing (and read)! However, in relation to our writers, we, as fellow students, understand the probable hindrances of school and personal responsibilities. Therefore, we simply urge them to at least pitch an idea and, upon approval, give them the time and space to produce their work.
Tell us more about the guest writers. Who can occasionally participate and write an article?
The writers for The Sapphire have so far been WISS students, ranging from grade 10 to 12. They heard about the new student newspaper and expressed an interest in writing for the paper, ready with a pitch idea. On the question of who can participate and write, the answer is The Sapphire‘s motto: “For students, by students.” This not only pertains to WISS students but can also include students from other schools who want to write! So if you are a student and want to write or know another student who does, we will be happy to accept.
What are the components that a good story needs to have?
When a student approaches us with a draft of their article or story, we tend to check for any flaw in the story plot first. Does the story follow a logical pattern? Are there any holes in the story, etc.? Then we move on to fixing the grammar and spelling mistakes. Afterward, we would either have another editor look over the article/story or give the draft back to the writer to change the content based on our edits. So I think a good story should have a consistent rhythm. It shouldn’t confuse the readers. The content should be engaging and interesting, and furthermore, should be appropriate for the audience.
Is it a challenge to create a newspaper when people seem to be more interested in videos or social content?
Personally, it seems as though people would engage in videos or social content rather than elongated written text. Therefore, at The Sapphire, we strive to compile different types of ways to convey information to our readers. For example, in our upcoming second debut, we will also incorporate artworks/comics into our newspaper. Those who are interested in art more than writing would be more inclined to digest information about current issues through art. By following the same idea, in the foreseeable future, we will continuously integrate different ways to convey ideas and information to our readers into our newspaper. We have not yet had a problem with the establishment of our newspaper, and I am quite confident that it would not be a problem for us in the future because we will conform and adjust to the needs and wants of our audience.
You are currently studying the CP Programme Art & Design with SCAD. How your lessons with SCAD help you create the visual design of The Sapphire?
My SCAD courses have been quite interesting and engaging so far. They have enabled me to practice and better my creative and artistic skills, which have assisted me with the process of branding and creating the visual design for The Sapphire.
Are your university plans focused on Art and Design?
Most likely, I have always had an interest in both art and especially design. That’s what led me to choose the CP SCAD program. I hope to pursue a career in some form in the design field, but I am also still keeping my options open to an extent.
What inspired you in the graphic design of The Sapphire? And why did you decide to name it The Sapphire?
When it came to naming the newsletter, Sara was actually the one who came up with the name The Sapphire. The branding and graphic design for the newsletter have been inspired by and derived from the name itself. All of the branding revolves around the idea of the blue gemstones (sapphires) while overall maintaining a relatively modern and sleek style.
Designing for The Sapphire, I made sure to keep WISS’s branding and distinct style in mind as well, so that we would work cohesively together with the school’s image. This also led to our logo being based on the classic WISS tiger, but with our own personal style.
What do you want to communicate through your pictures in The Sapphire?
My photographs are usually just a visual of what the article is about or just candid pictures of The Sapphire Team working together. I hope to show student spirit and community through the photographs I take.
People say a picture is worth a thousand words. Do you agree with this quote?
I believe that this quote can apply to certain contexts; for example, a photograph could show conflict, and there be many messages present. However, there could be a photograph of two people talking, which does not convey as many ideas and is not as impactful.
If you want to keep up with the news about student-life, school, and trending topics, read The Sapphire.
*All the photos for this article were taken by Simone, The Sapphirephotographer .*