Campus Connections – September 28

The Beacon student newspaper becomes a credit course

The Beacon student newspaper has transformed into a college course this fall, allowing students for the first time to earn academic credit for the writing, photography, graphic design and digital skills they learn while putting out the biweekly publication.

For its first 15 years, The Beacon was a student organization where volunteers produced a print newspaper — as well as an online version in recent years — from scratch. Beginning this semester, it’s being produced as part of a four-credit News Writing & Production course to give students a basic understanding of journalism and newspaper writing techniques.

For the class, students produce stories and photos that appear on The Beacon website and in an 8-page e-edition publication. The class is taught by Rachel Guthrie, who specializes in graphic design, and Tim Gillis, who focuses on writing.

Guthrie said the Communications & New Media Studies department has been expanding its journalism selections, first offering an Introduction to Journalism course last year and anticipating adding a podcasting course this spring or next fall. The News Writing & Production class gives students hands-on newspaper know-how while earning credit.

“This class gives students direct job-related experience,” Guthrie said. “A number of our Beacon students have gone on to get jobs based on their experience at The Beacon.”

Krista Nadeau, among the students in the inaugural class, wrote a couple of articles and a poem for The Beacon last year. She likes that the paper is now an academic class so she can learn all facets of newspaper production beyond writing.

“I’d like to learn editing and page layout,” she said. “I think the class will round out or be a great addition to the writing I love to do.”

SMCC celebrates Constitution Day

SMCC celebrated Constitution Day with a website devoted to information about the Constitution and a Constitution trivia contest for students, while History Instructor Herb Adams provided some historical perspective of Maine’s role in the writing of the supreme law of the United States.

Constitution Day is held September 17 each year to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. The document established the framework of our government and the rights and freedoms that U.S. citizens enjoy today.

Political Science Professor Julie Mueller produced a website for SMCC that focuses not only on the Constitution, but also on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920. Because Maine’s elections in 1920 were held in September rather than November, Maine women were among the first women nationwide to exercise their new-found voting rights that year.

SMCC students also took part in an online trivia challenge testing their knowledge of the Constitution.

The winner of the SMCC-specific contest, Joe Millay, won SMCC apparel of his choice and then represented SMCC in a Maine Community College System-wide trivial contest, won by a student from Washington County Community College on September 22.

Back in 1787, Rufus King was the only delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention who was born in what is now Maine. Just 32 at the time, King played a vital role in framing the Constitution and was one of just 39 men who signed it, Adams said.

King was born in Scarborough in 1755, when Maine was part of Massachusetts. Although he was one the youngest delegates at the Constitutional Convention, he was also one of the most important. He believed in a strong federal government and supported a 20-year term for president, Adams said, and is widely regarded among historians as being the “number one man on the second level of leaders” at the convention.

King later went on to serve as a U.S. senator from New York and was the Federalist Party nominee for president in 1816, losing in a landslide to James Monroe.

“Rufus King was prickly, proud and a prominent Mainer,” Adams said.

Student Profile: Meet Tim Randall

Tim Randall hopes to transform his classroom learning and his experience on The Beacon student newspaper into a bright future as a newspaper or magazine designer.

Tim worked at a supermarket for several years after graduating high school in 2011, but eventually concluded he needed a college education for a fulfilling career.

He chose SMCC and enrolled in the Communications and New Media Studies program, attending part-time while also working at a printing company in Portland. He has focused on graphic design in his program, and has become passionate about newspapers since joining the staff of The Beacon in 2019, first as a layout person and then as the art director.

This fall, he became the paper’s managing editor, overseeing all aspects of the publication. Besides managing all of the ins and outs of producing a newspaper, he has gained self-confidence and leadership skills.

His experience on The Beacon and his education in the classroom, he says, give him the foundation he needs to pursue a career in layout and design in the publishing industry after he graduates this fall.

“The faculty are so helpful; they’ve guided me and motivated me to succeed. I like going to school, and I kind of don’t want to leave.”