Get to know...Allie Neugeboren and Jake Neuberger, co-editors of NCHS paper
NEW CANAAN — Last year, the New Canaan High School student paper, the Courant, had a total of six editors-in-chief. This year, that six-person task was passed on to two seniors: Allie Neugeboren and Jake Neuberger.
“Our communication is better than last year,” Neugeboren said with a laugh, with Neuberger nodding in agreement.
“With Neugeboren and I, it’s obvious that we’re the end of the line before students get to the teacher,” Neuberger said, in a natural, booming voice that solicited “shhh’s” from a librarian and a patron during an interview at the New Canaan Library.
Neugeboren, 17, had eyed journalism ever since her older sister had been in the same school paper and she herself joined as soon as she could her sophomore year. Neugeboren, who is the print and copy editor-in-chief, doesn’t hide the fact she plans to continue writing at the Bucknell University paper, The Bucknellian, in Lewisburg, Pa. next year.
“My older sister, who was two grades above me, had taken journalism and knew it would speak to me,” Neugeboren said. “I wanted to challenge myself more and this could help me for when I go to college.”
Neuberger, on the other hand, got into journalism his junior year, deciding to focus more on media and video as opposed to writing which, the 18-year-old admits wasn’t his strongest suit back in his sophomore year. His hands-on approach as the media editor-in-chief has him feeling like a producer and cameraman at times.
“It’s difficult to set up lighting and cameras but it’s a good experience for us. Everything that we do, even if it’s a failure in others’ eyes, it’s a success for us because we’re doing something new,” Neuberger said on the Courant’s emphasis on video and visual storytelling.
A most recent endeavor for the editors, who manage nearly 30 writers, was covering the New Canaan High School walkout March 14 in which an estimated 1,000 students participated. The walkout, meant to honor the victims of gun violence in the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., was closed to the media but Neugeboren and Neuberger had insider access.
They hit the ground running.
“We had a group of dedicated students assigned to the story to focus on the walkout and school safety,” Neugeboren said. “Kids volunteered and brainstormed and went through important stuff, like school polls and asking what they could about school safety and the students’ thoughts on that.”
The Courant had reporters cover the walkout with live tweets and eventually a video story and additional articles.
“We were proud to see all our work,” Neuberger said. “Many kids showed promise in journalism; it was a great time.”
While the larger, nationwide movement on gun violence had a voice in New Canaan, both editors are aware of having grown up in a predominantly white and affluent town. Neugeboren and Neuberger recognize some of the limitations that poses, particularly in the months before they venture out to college in different parts of the country.
In a Feb. 28 editorial published in the Courant, Neugeboren described New Canaan as a “bubble” where “school life doesn’t directly relate to current events,” referencing the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements.
“We definitely live in a bubble,” Neugeboren reiterated. “There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you know that there are other diverse places out there. You can’t blame us, but we also need to be aware of it.”
Both students recognized the lack of diversity in New Canaan High School and Neuberger specifically referenced the creation of the Black Student Union in the first semester of the 2017-18 school year, a noticeable development for the school.
“A lot of students like this bubble and stay here and that’s OK,” Neuberger said. “But it’s important to go to other towns — being in a place that is different from your own just for the sake of meeting new people is very important.”
Neuberger plans to venture far from home, applying to schools like New York University in Shanghai and American University in Washington D.C.
And, as a majority of reporters will attest, the ever-looming presence of the deadline has also been a formative part of the students’ experience, represented by their “late night” sessions before the paper goes to print, which happens six or seven times a school year. The journalism students will stay after school until late evening making sure everything is good to go.
“We try to make it calm and relaxing but also with a ‘need-to-get-this done’ attitude,” Neugeboren said.
The seniors, who will graduate in almost three months, reminisced and mentioned how those moments would be the ones they would remember fondly after leaving high school.
“It definitely shows the intersection of where we are as editors-in-chief, the ‘big boss’ and also your classmate who is trying to make this a fun course,” Neuberger said.