Notes on The Franklin Post

During my senior year of high school, I was a writer for our school newspaper, The Franklin Post. I held onto a few issues after graduating, and lost track of them in one box or another for years and years; I just recently found them again. Below are scans and some notes of the entirety of the April 28th, 1997 issue, along with some clippings from a few other issues.

The Post was produced entirely in-school, by students, up to the point of actual printing; we had a faculty advisor, Helen Wittke, who ran editorial meetings and kept us more or less in check, but as far as I can remember the student staff was in charge of running pretty much the whole show in terms of writing, photography, editing and layout. We had a collection of Macs for workstations, did graphic design and layout work with some desktop publishing suite or another, and physically pasted finished columns and photos together onto large boards for delivery to the printers. The paper was generally eight or twelve pages, eleven by seventeen inch pages black-and-white on newsprint (with the occasional highlight color for some pages/issues; I remember red for the holiday issue, for example).

I don’t remember exactly how I got involved that year; I think I had to work/beg/promise my way around a pre-requisite course I hadn’t taken the previous year and wouldn’t have time for since this was my senior year. I didn’t have any news or journalism experience, but I was an enthusiastic writer and had taken a black-and-white photography class the previous year, so at least I was coming to it with more than just the sort of “maybe I should try that” idle curiosity that got me into a couple disastrous seasons of school sports earlier in my childhood.

And it was a great time, it turned out. If I think about it I’m sure I can dredge up some memory or other of any of my classes from senior year, or high school in general, but Journalism just leaps back to me especially vividly. I’d done some self-guided courses in previous years, for programming credits where the school lacked the enrollment or curriculum to justify a proper classroom experience, but those were more like private study periods than anything; working on the paper was very different, this strange freeform thing, a lumbering collaborative project that we all had to get done together, kicking around at big tables and workstations in a room that really felt like a workshop.

Plus we got away with a whole lot of hanging out and bullshitting. And I was really finally finding my bullshitting legs at that point in my life, after being pretty introverted and socially isolated for a lot of years. I loved it. I was probably a terrible pain in the ass a lot of the time; I remember a few specific situations where I’m certain I was, and that’s just the stuff I had the self-awareness at the time to remember and the sense in retrospect to regret.

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Our staff: Misty Redmon, Colleen Coombes, Tobias Green, Bryan Hunt, Brock Briones, Savanna Walls, Nathan Saunders, Beth Coleman, Carrie Brummer, Joy Geren, Jimmy Ho, Derek Moore, Kathleen Peterson, April Rautio, Abbie Vaught, Cydny Winslow, Nick Wolchesky, Willie Schmaltz, and me.

Tobias was always “Toby” to me and might be again at this point; I can’t remember if he really went formal with it in person or just liked how it looked on the byline there. Bryan was sometimes “Mike” because we were terrible people but I’m pretty sure Savanna started it. And Willie was at that point I think already on his way to preferring “Wilder”, which in his defense is a way better name, though my family still calls him Willie because whatever your name was back in middle school pretty much sticks with them forever.

I don’t remember being the Opinion Editor, and in fact checking the staff box for the issue below (the box above is from a different issue) I’m listed there as Sports Editor, which I also don’t remember being. We must have been assigned or argued for monthly editorial assignments? Forgotten detail.

Franklin Post – Monday, April 28th, 1997

Important note, you can click on an image below to get a much higher-res view for readability’s sake.

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Page 1:

- Franklin celebrates May Fete for 75 years, April Rautio.
- Franklin wins award two years running, Savanna Walls.
- FHS Mock Trial team’s first appearance at state, Bryan Hunt.

I should apologize for the sometimes dodgy scans here; these were grabbed on a little consumer printer/scannier/copy in a hurry, so margins are a bit tight and a bit sloppy in places, and (as in the break in the center of this page) text occasionally got cut out by bad placement of edges.

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Page 2:

- Outdoor School: An experience of a lifetime, Misty Redmon.
- Preparing for life after FHS, April Rautio.
- Spring heralds elections, Carrie Brumer
- Think recycle, Jimmy Ho.

Is Outdoor School still a thing that happens in Portland Public Schools? I feel like I remember it being in budgetary danger even when I was still in high school. I was a student counselor a couple times in high school, as “Virus” and then “Flannel”, though I wasn’t all that great at running a squad of eleven year olds and honestly went the first time, freshman year I think, because a girl who I liked was going, and then I barely even interacted with her that week. Why I went the second time is lost on me entirely now; maybe I went to prove to myself that I didn’t go the first time just to moon over a girl?

I’m not sure who wrote the Quaker Notes column; maybe it was glommed together by the student staff, maybe it was just collected submissions from the faculty and school administration? But hey, handy tips on how not to be a jackass while eating prom fondue. That was actually probably a totally appropriate level of advice at the time, really.

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Page 3:

- Guys and Dolls, Carrie Brummer
- Poetic Justic at FHS, Wilder Schmaltz

Wilder in the byline! He must have made the change at some point during the year, this being near the end.

And man oh man, Jim Doolittle and the poetry readings. I never took a class with the guy I don’t think, but I owe him as much as anybody at Franklin; he hosted writing jams and open-mic poetry readings during lunches or after school where kids like me could show up and try and get our gumption up and get creative in public, which was really a hell of a thing. First time I ever played a song I’d written in front of an audience was freshman year at one of his creative writing get-togethers; right when we were finishing up, I asked if I could play something, borrowed his nylon-string guitar, and performed an incredibly nervous, shaky-handed rendition of Amateur in front of him and a dozen other kids. I don’t even remember any specifics after that, just that I did it and Jim was supportive and nobody laughed at me or anything.

By the end of high school I’d become a primary organizer for those open mic things; we held them in the school library during lunches for a while, and I’d print up and xerox and tape up fliers for them in the halls. I made some great friends through that, and ended up going to open mics out in the real world after a while, including a regular thing at the late great Cafe Lena on Hawthorne, and got a lot more serious about songwriting (and a lot less nervous about performing) as a result. Full credit to Jim fuckin’ Doolittle for facilitating that.

Also, apparently there was a second annual staff croquet tournament on May 21st? I wonder if we covered that in the final issue of the year.

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Page 4:

- Scholarships not far to all students, Toby Green
- FHS students test their way to college, Nathan Saunders
- High standards should be universal, Kathleen Peterson
- Propaganda, Toby Green

Toby as Toby! Man, that staff box up at the top of this was full of red herrings. And it looks like we let a typo through on the hed for that first article, “fair to all” I’m guessing.

I don’t remember if Kathleen’s column about the behavior of Rose Festival princesses was prompted by some controversy at the time or if it was just speculation. Maybe there was some scandal I’ve forgotten? Maybe we just need to fill another ten column inches that month.

Propaganda was Toby’s regular column, sort of a free-form Stuff On Toby’s Mind thing as far as I can remember.

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Page 5:

- Senior Blues, Toby Green
- Protesting wrongs in front of school is a fundamental right, Savanna Walls
- High School in not the place for radical abortion protestors, Joy Geren
- Hometown fans find new attitude on the controversial “Jail” Blazers, Derek Moore

I remember having misgivings sometimes about just how much room to move we had as student journalists printing a paper at the discretion of a school administration — I think there were at least a couple dustups over one or another topic or article getting spiked from on high when I was working on the paper — but that whole abortion protest point-counterpoint thing is a nice reminder that it wasn’t all bake sales and hugs. I don’t even remember the actual protests now, though it sounds like it was the “wave pictures of dead babies” variety, which, blerg.

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Page 6:

- Shifting stereotypes, Josh Millard
- Girls in the game, Kathleen Peterson

That lead paragraph on my article makes me want to travel back in time and smack myself. I feel that way about a lot of stuff I wrote back then. I wanted too badly to be clever, and it shows. The whole article is full of problems, though; assertions that beg for citations, sloppy writing, qualifiers and flowery turns that don’t really accomplish anything. And it feels like most of it was just built around the quotes, finding excuses to transition from one to the next.

But at least “Men sucks” was a pretty good soundbite. Go Kaufman.

And how did I collect these quotes, anyway? Corner people in the hall? I don’t think it could have been very attack-dog-journo; I knew all of these people at least reasonably well at the time.

Snort credit due Nicole Pace for her “in the delivery room” deadpan down in the bottom right.

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Page 7:

- In the dressing room, April Rautio
- Who pays for dinner, Savanna Walls

Man, check out those pie graphs. I can’t tell what’s going on with that first pair — were male and female students actually wildly at odds about gender differentials, or did we just accidentally swap the “yes” and “no” values for one of the graphs? And the second item uses different colors for each cohort from one graph to the next, and so does the sixth. And the proportions for the third and the fifth are bonkers — 16% and 40% wedges are the same size in the former, and 40% manages to get to seriously different wedge sizes in the latter. And we couldn’t spare a line to mention at least the size of the polling sample?

I would flunk us. Wittke was too nice.

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Page 8:

- Rave Reviews, Beth Coleman
- Grosse Point Blank, Beth Coleman
- It came from the 80s, Joy Geren

I wonder if there was any pushback about sticking a drawing of a handgun in the paper at the time? Also, how the hell is that movie fifteen years old? Christ almighty.

That Franklin 2-for-2 card: save what on some of your favorite food etc? And look at the mess of fonts in that Mr. Formal ad.

I don’t remember who was responsible for the ad buys; was that something we did as a student staff activity, or something Helen Wittke handled? Hmm.

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Page 9:

- Unconventional Sports, Joy Geren
- Dragonboat, Joy Geren
- Varsity and JV Baseball keep chin up, Bryan Hunt
- Making tracks, Derek Moore

Looks like I killed the left edge of the top half of this page. I’m going to give Jesse Traver points for the noblest description of hackey sacking I think I’ve ever encountered, though, with his “demonstration of kinesthetic intelligence”. For me it was mostly a demonstration of how crap I was at hackey sack, but I think that’s mostly on me.

And prom: uh oh yeah, be sure to get your tickets.

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Page 10:

- Speaks Sports, Nathan Saunders
- FHS student gets inside look at Blazers, Derek Moore
- Bright future for JV softball, Kathleen Peterson
- Varsity softball charging for PIL championship, Abbie Vaught

I’m guessing Nathan’s column was supposed to be byline-then-title and just got screwed by our house style for column headings that year.

I had zero interest in organized sports in high school, so the sports pages were always kind of a dead zone for me; I got some some assignments over the course of the year, and did them, and did an apparently decent job of it, but I didn’t really have a good attitude about the whole thing.

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Page 11:

- Franklin tennis teams overcome the adversities of young teams, Jimmy Ho
- Franklin golf teams swing for excellence, Joy Geren
- Sports Talk, Bryan Hunt

GOLF.

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Page 12:

- Pulp, Josh Millard
- Top Ten List, Josh Millard
- At the Polls, Abbie Vaught
- Mystery Picture, Nick Wolchesky

I loved the back page of the paper. I loved my stupid humor column. I loved the dumb top ten lists. I loved the random jokey crap we ran in the spare column inches.

The top ten list was a rotating feature; different staffers took it on different months, though there may have been some group work involved depending on how open any given person was to spitballing. I’m reading my list here and wondering if we were on deadline or if I just actually thought those were all slam dunks, the best work I could do. Most of that wouldn’t qualify for drunktweeting at this point.

Staff Haiku was a recurring feature; I saw at least one other collection of ‘em in the other issues I found. Probably my fault? I was pretty into poetry at the time, and liked bad poetry jokes in general, so I could see me pushing the idea and begging submissions off the other staffers.

But man, my humor column. I remember at one point somebody stopped me in the hall the day we’d published one issue or another, and was like, point blank: “Nice Dave Barry ripoff.”

Which was a pretty shitty and brutal thing to say, but also really really on the nose. Touche, whoever the hell that was.

Because I loved Dave Barry. I’d grown up reading Dave Barry columns and books, to myself or out loud to my parents. We were a Dave Barry family. I had strong opinions about the sitcom Dave’s World. If had to honestly pitch my humor column at the time, it’d have been pretty much “like Dave Barry”.

But at the same time, I wanted that column to be mine, I wanted to be writing something that was me showing off how funny I was and I hadn’t really put any previous serious effort into developing a voice as a writer or thinking about what a humor column was supposed to be. So I wanted this thing, and I got this thing, and then I had to come up with a few hundred words every month for this thing and it tended to come out as me riffing very much in the aesthetic mode of, but not nearly up to speed with, my humor column hero.

True to form, this one is basically Ask Mr. Language Person fanfic. And I spelled limerick wrong.

But at least Wilder knocked that poetry reading illustration out of the park.

Miscellaneous clippings

These are bits that caught my eye from a few other issues; I wasn’t up to scanning several more full papers by hand, but it seemed worth grabbing a few things. I didn’t take note of the date for any of these, but it’s all from the 1996-1997 school year.

FranklinPost-clipping-beth-coleman-aol

- AOL: Busy is a state of mind…, Beth Coleman

Seriously, fuckin’ AOL. Consumer dialup the norm. Feels like a lifetime ago.

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- Enron vs. PGC, Josh Millard

I remember I had to fight to get this into the paper, and in reality it’s a fight I should have lost. Why the hell would there be an article about utility company takeover bids in a student newspaper? Which I think is what Wittke asked me, probably more politely, when it came up.

But I’d been reading Willamette Week and I guess I had a bug up my butt about it and pitched it during the editorial meeting, and pushed for a few hundred words. It’s possible I just didn’t have enough other ideas that month or wanted to ward off another sports assignment? I dunno.

The concession I made was to make the article relevant to the student body, and it looks like all I could come up with there is “the school, and also your parents, will have higher utility bills!” Which is pretty weak sauce, in retrospect. Even if Enron did turn out to be sons of bitches after all.

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- Pink Floyd, Savanna Walls

I think this was from a special music-issue feature spread, along with a bunch of other bits of like Music Through The Decades writeups.

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- Saying Anything, Josh Millard

Entirely possible this was a reaction to one of the weird school-admins-spiking-an-article thing mentioned earlier. I do seem a little angry here. Not trying to be terribly clever, though, so that’s something at least. Someone should have red-penned that “to whom” bit.

FranklinPost-clipping-lisa-norene-kravitz-dream

Lisa Norene, responding to a “student in the halls” question about recurring dreams:

I always have this nightmare where Lenny Kravitz tries to kill me with his dreadlocks.

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- Varsity Football becomes pride of FHS, Josh Millard

One of those sports assignments that I hated because I didn’t give a crap about sports and didn’t know where to start. I think I ended up doing more work than I needed to, and since I was totally unused to tracking people down for interviews I took that whole bit overly seriously — I remember Coach Alton seeming a little dog-tilting-head-to-side about it at the time, like what is this kid doing here, but he was polite and supportive in any case — and basically I put a bunch of effort into it and it was like pulling teeth for me.

And looking at it honestly fifteen years later, it’s probably the least pretentious thing I wrote that entire year for the paper; it’s a bit puffy, but it’s straightforward and reads like a story about a football team rather than a collection of bad jokes and half-clever riffs about things I thought about football. The “isolationist stardom” line’s a bit much, but we’re not working miracles here.

There was a regional student journalism competition of some sort that we sent stuff off to at some point later in the school year, and I sent in some of my “Pulp” humor columns and also a couple other newsy bits including this football writeup. The humor columns crashed and burned; I actually got some kind of pretty decent response to this article. I was pretty upset about that at the time.

FranklinPost-clipping-subwayad

Shit yes, Subway. Though I actually mostly just went to Dial-A-Pizza, since they had some nutty deal for two slices of cheese and a can of coke for two bucks.

4 thoughts on “Notes on The Franklin Post

  1. Yeah, our workstations had all the fonts you could ever hope for at the time and by god we were all about using ‘em.

    Wilder’s illustrations were probably the most consistently solid part of the whole production in terms of actual skill level. Appropriately enough he’s gotten some work in more recent years doing illustrations for the Merc.

  2. Wow…thanks for sharing this. What a blast from the past. Not a little embarrassing, lol. And is is just me, or is that ad from Woodstock in Focus featuring our very own Bryan “Mike” Hunt?

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