Photo L-R: Senior Meghana Reddy, Sophomore Seth Facey, Souhegan HS teacher, Adam Theriault, Senior Sarah Eastland, Senior Sophie Nikolenko, Junior Anna Waldron.
DC bound; Souhegan students covering inauguration
By TINA FORBES
Five staff writers from the Souhegan High School digital magazine The Claw will be among
international news agencies and top journalists covering the presidential inauguration this Friday in Washington.
The students earned an expenses-paid trip to cover the event from Franklin Pierce University after publishing months of 2016 election coverage.
"I was incredibly excited," said Sophie Nikolenko, editor-in-chief of The Claw, recalling her reaction to receiving the invitation from Franklin Pierce. "This will be the biggest journalistic feat of my entire life."
The Claw editorial staff will be joining Nikolenko. They include fellow seniors Sarah Eastland and Meghana Reddy, junior Anna Waldron and sophomore Seth Facey. Adam Theriault, a teacher who is the magazine adviser, will accompany the students to the inauguration and on a tour of city sights.
As adviser, Theriault is charged with guiding students on writing, ethics and managing the digital content for the magazine.
"It's an extremely rewarding role," he said Tuesday. "It's about setting a base journalism can grow from."
Students are taught to uphold the ethics of journalism, he said.
"In an age where journalism is under fire, the truth does exist," Theriault said.
The group has been working toward this event since last summer, when they attended the political journalism conference "Presidency and the Press" at Franklin Pierce in Rindge. The conference included students across the state, and also kicked off months of diligent campaign coverage from The Claw staff as they worked toward earning the inauguration invitation.
Throughout the 2016 election season, The Claw covered local appearances by Sen. Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Gov. Maggie Hassan, Gov. Jeb Bush and Gov. John Kasich.
"We were able to interview a few people," Nikolenko said. "I personally got to interview John Kasich, which was a big moment for me."
The invitation for The Claw staff was well earned, she said.
"This has been all we've been thinking about," Nikolenko said, "and we've worked so hard to get to this point."
Eastland, the head photographer for The Claw, will photograph the inauguration.
"I was absolutely shocked when Adam told me we would all be getting to go," Eastland said in a press statement from the school. "I know I'm going to have some amazing photo opportunities."
Souhegan's signature magazine is more than just news.
"It's taken journalism pieces like news and entertainment and turned it into a combination of what students want to see," Theriault said.
The magazine includes student art, fiction and poetry, as well as broad coverage of politics, sports, district news, and fashion and lifestyle content.
Theriault, a former Souhegan English teacher, has been teaching video production and multimedia art for the last two years. He helped launch the magazine two years ago, but credits his students as the real Claw founders.
"It's been very exciting to be a part of it," he said. "It's a blast - I love it."
The students left New Hampshire Tuesday, Jan. 17, traveling by train from Boston. They will return home Saturday, Jan. 21.
As part of the invitation, Franklin Pierce is footing the bill for the trip.
"It's a great prize after a lot of hard work," said Theriault, who thanked Franklin Pierce for the opportunity. "We're really excited about our work with Franklin Pierce. I think this is a really pivotal point for journalism in New Hampshire."
The students' itinerary included a tour of the national monuments on Tuesday, a tour of the National Archives and dinner at the National Press Club on Wednesday and Thursday, and the inauguration on Friday morning, followed by a parade that afternoon.
While in Washington, The Claw staff will interview Hassan, now a U.S. senator, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter.
Nikolenko thanked her staff for their work throughout the presidential campaign.
"It's been just amazing, honestly," she said. "The magazine just started a year and a half ago, and the coverage has been amazing.
"I'm really proud of everyone who has been a part of it."
The Claw has 30 staff members, including the five editorial staff members.
Nikolenko said she plans to attend the journalism program at Emerson College in Boston in the fall to continue her career in journalism.
The Claw can be seen at shsclaw.sprise.com.
Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-1246, firstname.lastname@example.org or
© 2014, The Telegraph, Nashua, New Hampshire