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WestSide Stories: Student-run newspaper shedding light on positive stories in Kearns, writing to end stigma

Local News

KEARNS, Utah (ABC4) – From the west side, a student-run newspaper is keeping a community up to date with current events and sharing the good from within.

Kearns High School journalism students are covering local news and working to end a stigma one word at a time.

“Kearns is such a small community you don’t really hear about it on local news,” says Caytlin Pendleton, the papers’ editor in chief. “[But when you do hear about Kearns] you think ghetto, shooting, violence; that’s not what we are.”

While they cover the crime, these students are focusing in on the good things.

“Mostly here at school or within the community. Maybe a restaurant or a certain student has excelled in a way and we want to cover that, or a teacher is retiring,” says Alyssa Sainsbury, the paper’s managing editor.

“It’s such a boost for everybody who lives in Kearns, to say look at all the positive things happening and it’s so not true what some of these people have been led to believe,” says Kathryn Scott, the high school’s journalism advisor.

In a town of more than 36,500 people, the school’s paper, The Cougar Claw, has grown in size throughout the years.

Scott says when she took over the paper eight years ago, she and her students would take 11 x 15 papers into the copy room, printing and folding one paper at a time.

Since then, donations have allowed for the program to get the newspaper professionally printed.

“It’s made a night and day difference,” Scott says.

Often highlighting the good, these high schoolers aren’t just telling the news that matters to their fellow classmates, but instead their community.

“Word of mouth kind of gets the word out about things, but now that there’s a newspaper, anything notable that happens is really kind of getting more publicity and it tends to have a bigger impact on Kearns because of that,” says Parker Guertler, the paper’s senior community editor.

“You have something that goes on somewhere and you don’t know about it, how do you know it happened?” Pendleton says.

The Cougar Claw prints about 6,500 newspapers every month, and students deliver it to local residents, businesses, and organizations.

Student journalists say they believe what they’re doing is making a difference in the world.

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