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STANFORD - Noah Ayers, a junior at Olympia High School, has been interested in journalism since his freshman year.

His interest grew this year when the Stanford-based school changed how it delivers news. The district's Web site was redesigned in September to become more like an online newspaper, and the school print newspaper, The Torch, has become more of a news magazine.

"Now I'm kind of involved," said Ayers, 17, of Hopedale. He is among several students who are assigned "beats" to cover for the Web site and The Torch.

The changes have led to new technology training for the students and even invitations for students and staff to speak at conferences.

Webmaster Mary Ann Nannen, who is the district's technology and media director, manages the Web site. Student-written stories are filtered at the elementary, middle and high schools before she posts them. Community members and teachers also contribute.

The site still contains all the usual items: electronic payment for fees, family access, faculty information, activity calendars, job opportunities and an archive. But student-produced news and photographs are favorite features.

"We absolutely love this Web site," said Fred Shears, principal of Olympia North Elementary School in Danvers.

Lindsay Morr, 11, of rural Bloomington already has been published. "I liked how it was set up, and I felt good," she said of her first online story and photos.

The Olympia North sixth-grader is currently at work on an article about skating in the gym.

Students from fifth to 12th grades have input in their school system through the Web site.

"It gives them a feeling of ownership," said Assistant Superintendent Brad Hutchison. "It's been a nice way to get to know students."

And for students with an interest in journalism, the site offers an electronic outlet, said Amanda Hapgood, who teaches English and journalism at the high school.

Students continue to produce The Torch, but it may be a month or more between issues. The site allows students to write timely news stories and work on more in-depth articles for The Torch.

Zach Craig, 18, a senior from Waynesville, hopes to use his writing and communication skills in his future career in youth ministry. He plans to attend Lincoln Christian College and Seminary, Lincoln, next year.

Hapgood said the site has changed how 32 journalism students work because it is redundant to run the same news in The Torch after it has appeared online.

Alec Novakow, a 16-year-old junior from Danvers, specializes in writing movie reviews for The Torch. "We're still important," said the junior.

Lindsey Tevoert, 17, a senior from Danvers who wrote for The Torch as a junior, is happy more people get to see her work now.

"We didn't get to write anything that people would see," she said of the old system. Now Tevoert can write online about her coverage of student government.

"I really like more opportunities to write for students and the community," she said.

Olympia's online news and updated Web page have spun off into technology in other areas, including the yearbook, and students presenting at a technology conference at Heartland Community College, Hapgood said.

The Web site has become such a success that Superintendent Don Hahn has been asked to speak about it at a state conference in Springfield.


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