Learning Journeys

A few of the 43 PHS students who attended ASPA at the University of Alabama. (Contributed)

A few of the 43 PHS students who attended ASPA at the University of Alabama. (Contributed)

By Connie Nolen / Community Columnist

“I am absolutely freaking out and need help,” said Meredith Cummings, director of the Alabama Scholastic Press Association. Cummings rarely freaks out. In the publications world, she is the glue connecting all high school media advisers.
Whether she’s pairing a new adviser with a mentor, planning training sessions for schools, or pointing students towards excellent resources, Cummings and the Alabama Scholastic Press Association are vital support for school media.
Cummings has helped my literary magazine staff so often that when I said I’d be out Monday because Meredith Cummings needed me, they simply nodded. Preparing for their own ASPA trip to the University of Alabama on Wednesday, my staffers understood Cummings’ dilemma. She needed a lit mag teacher for the Mobile sessions. A large group of students and their teacher starting a magazine in Mobile needed instruction. ASPA training sessions are vital for publications staffs as they gear up each fall.
Meeting with excited kids and teachers in Mobile was invigorating. They were thankful for every resource offered. They have no literary magazine class; however, they meet every Sunday afternoon to create their magazine.
Working with these Mobile students reminds me why I’ve continued to advise the PHS Lit Mag. When our first magazine arrived on Awards Night, the editor was there. He picked up the magazine and gazed at it. When his mom walked in, he held it up and said, “Look at what I made!”
Witnessing his pride in accomplishment, I was in.
“One of our students thanked me for giving the artsy kids a place to share their talents,” a Mobile teacher said.
“You’re in,” I said.
“I’m in,” she agreed.
On Wednesday, new PHS yearbook adviser Carrie Hunt and her staff accompanied PHS Lit Mag to ASPA’s Tuscaloosa sessions. A veteran yearbook adviser offered to have lunch with Hunt and answer all of her questions.  “That was incredibly helpful,” Hunt said later.
“Being new to yearbook, I got a great introduction—design, photography—and how to put them together with style,” PHS student Sheila Muthee said.
ASPA launches student media groups toward success.