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Recalling the Young Citizen

Kathy Laird shows the page she laid out for The Young Citizen.

Kathy Laird shows the page she laid out for The Young Citizen.

I recall a very special good Citizen experience: The Young Citizen.

Local high school journalism enthusiasts were afforded the opportunity of a lifetime to work with grown-up, real reporters and photographers in a Citizen program called the Young Citizen. This program, under the direction of the late Citizen columnist Don Schellie involved an editor and a reporter from each area high school.

There were 12 participating high schools at the time.

Every Saturday morning we checked in at the old Star-Citizen building on North Stone Avenue.

We then gathered in a corner of the newsroom trying to maintain our high school cool, as we were in the midst of real newspaper reporters.

Weekly, we typed our highly relevant and newsworthy articles on IBM Selectric typewriters.

Each Saturday one lucky editor had the honor of laying out the entire page with all completed articles.

I still have the page I laid out from 1970 and all my printed articles.

As a group, we brainstormed on headlines and counted the point value of each letter to be sure they would fit (English, creative writing, layout and design, and math).

If we felt our articles warranted a photograph, we scheduled a staff photographer to shoot photos of what they probably considered some of the most benign, silly subjects.

They never complained (to us) and it was always thrilling to see not only our article but accompanying photos which, of course, lend credence to the value of our writing efforts.

Every Wednesday afternoon, we anxiously awaited the arrival of the Citizen to see our names and precious articles in print.

What a thrill this program was to me and other budding journalists.

As an assistant and editor representing Sunnyside High School from 1968 to 1970, I can’t tell you how terrific the gracious, gentle Schellie made us all feel as valued members of the newspaper staff. What an honor it was to work with him.

The Citizen treated us at the start of each school year with a breakfast and celebrated the end of the year with a nice dinner (one of which was at the historic Pioneer Hotel).

We all received our names in typeset and graduating seniors received silver and turquoise key chains personalized with their initials.

As if all that wasn’t enough, at the end of each month we received a paycheck representing $5 for every Saturday we worked.

Twenty bucks a month for writing four stories was pretty respectable compensation in 1968-70 (remember we baby-sat for 50 cents an hour and gas was around 25 cents a gallon).

As a three-year varsity pompom leader who cheered our Blue Devils on to victory (or not) every Friday night and who had to get up early every Saturday morning to head downtown to the Citizen newsroom (thanks, Dad), it was often a struggle.

But once you signed in with security, entered the smoked-filled newsroom, heard the sound of typewriter keys banging out the daily news, you couldn’t stem the excitement of starting your own story.

So, hats off to the Citizen for the innovative Young Citizen program to involve local journalism students in getting our stories out there, for the gracious and respectful manner in which they treated us, for the priceless opportunity they offered us. You have our love and respect – and they can’t take that away.

Kathy York Laird

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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