Thomas High newspaper honors fallen firefighters

9 Feb

by Stephanie Boris, Webster Thomas High School

If it seems like I write a lot about Webster Thomas High School…well, you’d be right.  But I do work there, and so many good things happen in that school that stories ideas just fall into my lap.  Plus, teenagers get so much bad press these days, I like to try to balance that out with news of the great things they can do, and are doing for their school and community.

Today’s blog is no different.  It’s about a bunch of Thomas kids who have gone above and beyond to create a lasting memorial to the fallen firefighters of the West Webster Fire Department. It’s something that I thought definitely had to be shared far beyond the high school’s walls.

The Webster Thomas High School newspaper is called The Courier, and lately it’s been published exclusively online by a small but very dedicated group of students advised by English teacher Mary Heveron-Smith. A week or so ago, though, the staff published a special eight-page print edition commemorating fallen firefighters — and Thomas High School family members — Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka.

I asked Heveron-Smith about the decision to publish this special edition in print instead of online. She explained,

It had to be print.  We’ve been working this year to develop our website, but we knew this had to be a printed issue of the newspaper.  There is something about print that still brings comfort. We wanted a publication that people could feel with their hands, could tuck away into a drawer and pull out again when they wanted to remember the amazing individuals whom we lost.

The resulting publication features submissions by current and former Thomas students and other community members. There’s a eulogy written as a Public Speaking assignment, a poem, and excerpts from the eulogy delivered at Mike Chiapperini’s funeral.  But the images are what really blew me away.  The photos and original artwork, many of which are printed in full color, almost brought me to tears. The one of Tomasz which illustrates the top of this blog was especially poignant.  Heveron-Smith wrote of this piece,

 …he is captured so perfectly — his eyes, his smile, his facial lines…If you knew Tomasz, you almost can’t help but smile in recognition when you see it.  The background is a blend of photos, headlines, and newspaper clippings — all seeming to remind us what happened that day, how many people were affected, how many stood out for their acts of heroism.

I’m going to stop blathering here, and just let you see the publication yourself.  Click here to download a .pdf  of the issue to read on your computer.

Click here to read Mary Heveron-Smith’s entire email, which explains in more detail how and why this issue came to be. (If you’re not on Facebook, you can click here for a .pdf version.)

You can pick up a paper copy of the special commemorative edition of The Courier at the Webster Public Library and at Hegedorn’s.

 

 

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