Administration Slashes Newspaper and Speech & Debate

Former Editor-in-Chief expresses concerns on how student journalism and free expression are getting ever increasingly important by the day


Tyler Dortch, Editor-In-Chief

Two of Smoky Hill’s most important class options are being taken away. Multi-Media Journalism (newspaper) and competitive Speech & Debate are not being reinstated during the 2023-24 school year because of how many students are taking the class. Classes require at least 20 students to operate, while Newspaper has 18 students in the preregistration process. This two-student gap is serious enough for administrators to remove newspaper. The importance of a free student press cannot be understated. It gives students a place to publically voice their concerns, learn new skills, and many other valuable life lessons.

Being in the Newspaper for my 4 years of high school was an incredibly formative experience. It allowed me to have my voice in the public sphere for the first time and develop social skills I wouldn’t have otherwise learned. Faust’s classroom is a safe space for many students, including me, who struggle with various personal issues. I spent every lunch of my Junior and Senior years inside Faust’s classroom. The administration’s actions are inherently pedantic, resulting in the removal of free press from Smokys halls. I can only speak for myself when I say this, I would not have felt comfortable anywhere in the building except for Faust’s room. Nor would I have even graduated.

Newspaper and Speech & Debate provide a safe space for students to share a wide range of views that often conflict with the narrative. Staff who care about a free press are being hindered from doing anything by the administration. In addition, students who are curious and ask their teachers are all met with the same response, “I cannot speak on the subject.” The idea of a free press threatens insecure people with the smallest amount of power, IE, the administration.

The inherent clientelism the administration adopts when dealing with IB programs is on full display. Many IB classes do not meet the 20-person minimum to operate; However, whenever students ask questions to staff regarding issues like these they are, again, met with, “I cannot speak on this subject.” Why this is, I can only speculate. Principal Andre Bala states in his ‘principals message’ on Smoky Hill’s website that, “Excellence in equity; excellence in inclusion; excellence in school-wide culture,” in order to advance his vision of equity, inclusion, and school culture. He decides to cut at the very social fabric enabled by a free press. In addition, if Bala truly cared about inclusion he would recognize that a free press is the single best way to promote diversity and inclusion and not be tied down by mundane rules and regulation.

Multi-Media Journalism is one of the most important classes offered at Smoky Hill. Its importance is only increasing as a result of contemporary political polarization, mis/disinformation, and increasing online connectivity. Students should not be held back from classes that will actively help them in coming to informed conclusions on their own. The removal of these classes over a pedantic 2-person discrepancy is absolutely abhorrent and I implore students and staff to continue to make their voices heard. Relevant contact information is below.

Andre Bala, Principal: (720)-866-5403

Micheal Ady, Academics Dean: (720)-866-5420