Friday, March 17, 2017

The Mustang Stampede: A Look Inside

article by Benjamin Levesque
edited by Audrey Elston

    The Mustang Stampede began as a collaborative effort between Freshman Accelerated English teachers, Mr. Mark Mercier and Mrs. Norrie Chamoff, to benefit the students with an activity that interacted with their school and their community. Creating a blog would cover the media-centric portion of the standards for accelerated learning, so off they went and the blog began to take shape. On November 4, 2016, they released an introduction of the blog to their readers. With the help of all students in the photograph above, the Mustang Stampede formed its mission statement, identifying a goal for themselves as a group:

The mission statement for The Mustang Stampede is to inspire our readers to be creative, innovative, and successful leaders in the local and global community by providing accurate and relevant content.” (Welcome! article by the Mustang Stampede)

    With each issue they decided to cover four topics: community, school life, activities, and global and national interests, organizing their class into groups and assigning editors for each. The editors would be responsible for facilitating their writers, who would write articles over a period of three weeks, keeping in mind the use of multimedia (photography, videos, etc.), relevant content, as well as accurate & non-partisan information.
    The first wave of Mustang Stampede articles came from Mr. Mercier’s class, eleven in total, and revolved around diverse topics worth reading. The Electoral Process: How the President is Chosen, was written by Sarah Cloutier and Andres Vargas, supported with multimedia from Ashley Davis, and was finally edited by Jakob Saucier. It is informative and succeeds in supplying a succinct explanation for such a complex process, and also serves as an excellent example of an article under the national/global category.  If you’d like to view this article, click here: The Electoral Process: How the President is Chosen. Overall, the published stories were a success for the newly-established Mustang Stampede, and were followed up by Mrs. Chamoff’s class when they published on December 19.

    Now, the Mustang Stampede has grown in readership and portfolio, offering a total of eighty-three articles to read, each distinct and constantly improving in quality. One of its most recent articles, 5th Annual Freshman Film Festival (Class of 2020), was published in the Waterboro Reporter with credit given to the writers. If you’re interested in taking a look, you can click here: 5th Annual Freshman Film Festival (Class of 2020). The most popular series of articles, Advice with Bryce, currently with three iterations, is composed by a group of students as a “fluffy” break from the hard hitting news of today. Instead of detailing Donald Trump’s international travel ban (which has been done), Advice with Bryce covers student issues closer to home. The group behind the articles generate silly and serious questions off and on, including: “What are some ideas to make new friends?” and “There’s someone I like; how do I ask them out?” The responses are genuine and from a freshman student’s perspective, contributing to an overall light-hearted article that humors the reader. If you’d like a laugh and some freshman point of view, click here for Advice with Bryce.

    To get a better idea of how it all started, I asked Mr. Mercier and Mrs. Chamoff about what lead to founding the Mustang Stampede. Surprisingly, the premise, though based in Accelerated English standards, actually began with an inquiry from a student’s parent concerning the school’s lack of a newspaper. Thus, after naming (the name Mustang Stampede is actually a homage to a dance team Mrs. Chamoff coached from 2005-2007), the idea came to life. They introduced the activity as one that would challenge our writing skills while simultaneously bolstering school and community awareness, and gave us the opportunity to craft our mission statement as a group.

    Thus far, both teachers have seen the ups and downs of the process in wide variety. Mr. Mercier described one of his initial issues with students being confined to their comfort zone, unable to reach outside and collect the information needed to draft a good story. Mrs. Chamoff identified her students’ struggles as being newfound, seeing as they “have never been taught this type of writing” before. However, each agrees that a major part to play in the development of students is the importance of deadlines. Whether it be pre-screening articles for revision or not receiving the works in on time, they have found that their students have room to improve. But likewise, amongst irksome beginnings these students have seen personal growth and witnessed their impact as news reporters. Mrs. Chamoff feels that the editors especially have grown as leaders for their fellow classmates, and Mr. Mercier capitalizes on the effect the articles have had over time. Recent figures show that the Mustang Stampede website has gained over 3,000 page views in the past month.

    The Mustang Stampede is set to continue for the rest of the school year, and hopefully beyond. Initiative has strengthened in freshman students, and purpose to write has been rejuvenated. And as it continues I have begun to recognize the value of the Mustang Stampede as well. I myself write to entertain, and have found this activity helpful for describing worthwhile things I’ve witnessed in the short time the blog has existed. The most powerful moment of this whole experience  was in my personal endeavor article, Boston Bombing Movie: Patriots’ Day. Having watched the film and seeing people's’ reactions (shock, dumbfounded silence, etc.), I realized how much we need to share the moments that astound us. When the crowd was silent after the film, I took pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) and articulated that feeling. Jakob Saucier, a concurrent editor and writer for the Stampede, feels that the whole experience has contributed to his leadership skills, in addition to his creativity, and ability to “spark… ideas with people to write about.” He has developed his “leader” persona: being able to meet deadlines and guide people to do the same while facilitating quality work.
    Altogether its creation was student-oriented and centered on benefiting them academically, while serving as an outlet for school and community news and events. For the duration it has existed the blog has done this, and there is still more to be done. There are still lengths to be run by the Mustang Stampede.     


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