An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Jim Collins, Tatler advisor

The monthly student newspaper, Tatler, is produced by a staff of 30 Upper School students who meet in a weekly for-credit class. The call, earlier this month, to shift to remote learning would normally be a relatively easy accommodation for a staff producing a student publication. But the shift coincided with an important annual ritual at the paper: the class when juniors interested in becoming next year’s editor in chief stand up in front of their peers and make their case. The opportunity for candidates to present ideas and answer questions marks the first step in the transition of the paper’s student leadership — and sets in motion the assignment of new roles and responsibilities, the shadowing and mentoring that happen with the May issue, and the handover of the final issue of the school year.

Realizing the importance of keeping this transition process on track, the current editors in chief, Kanishka R. ’20 and Isabelle Q. ’20, quickly pivoted to an alternative plan for the in-class presentations. They moderated a live panel by video conference during the normal class time, and produced a follow-up questionnaire for the candidates to share with each member of the current staff. Nearly two-thirds of the staff were able to participate in the online discussion and submit questions in real time. The questionnaire was completed and distributed by email overnight. Within two days the entire staff had reviewed the material and cast votes in a straw poll. The new officers were notified and confirmed by the end of the week, on schedule.

All this was happening as the paper’s staff was making plans to re-cast the annual “April Fool’s issue” in the face of fast-changing news and to have that issue mailed to students’ homes rather than distributed on campus, and as they began conversations about developing new and timely content for the paper’s digital web-based version, tatler.lakesideschool.org, possible new social media reporting, ideas for adding reporting to The Bull electronic newsletter, and printing a separate supplement that would serve as a record of Lakeside’s response to the coronavirus pandemic — remarkable examples of core competencies the school is committed to developing in our students: resilience, flexibility, and ability to solve unstructured problems. And a case, close to home, of journalists stepping up and serving us all in a time of need.