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A section for teens, by teens

January 29, 2006|By JAKE WOMER

When I was a teenager, a band by the name of Nirvana was taking the music scene by storm. That was a big deal, something new to banish all the big hair acts, something revolutionary for rock.

Most of the cultural ideas my friends and I embraced now can be found as the subjects of books. That's when you know the things you like have become old hat.

Now I have no idea what is big in contemporary youth culture, but we in the Lifestyle department of The Herald-Mail are charged with creating a relevant weekly teen section - with all the things we knew as teens having passed into history. It's an understatement to say we're not on the edge.

So we're doing the smart thing - passing the buck and calling in experts.

Teenagers are now the driving force behind the Tuesday teen section.

They generate story ideas, write the stories, take photos and draw comics, and a few have been helping redesign the section.

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A new version of what is now named Next is coming in mid-February. It will have a new look, new content and renewed focus. The constant will be that the teens will be driving the section with stories that affect them. Topics will be drawn from their lives, rather than the editors just guessing at what might interest them.

Otherwise, readers might be stuck with stories about who is the latest Nirvana or why flannel wears well. Fortunately, that's not the case.

There are about 20 people ages 12 to 18 who are doing the hard work and making the teen section more relevant to themselves and their peers.

Regular contributors are:

Espe Martinez, a senior at Boonsboro High School; Sarah Brown, a sophomore at Boonsboro High School; Nick Ritchick, an eighth-grader at Western Heights Middle School; Robert Keller, an eighth-grader at Western Heights Middle School; April Vesely, a sophomore at Boonsboro High School; Katy Haupt, a sophomore at Boonsboro High School; Matt Newton, a 16-year-old student at Washington County Technical High School; Stephanie Snyder, a freshman at Boonsboro High School; Rowan Copley, a 16-year-old home-schooler living in Hagerstown; Sarah Johnston, a junior at North Hagerstown High School; Hira Zeb, a junior at St. Maria Goretti High School; Ana Jantz, a junior at Boonsboro High School; Fedora Copley, a 13-year-old home-schooler living in Hagerstown; Nell Barber, a 12-year-old home-schooler from Keedysville; Brad Smith, who attends Boonsboro Middle School; Lydia Hadfield, a home-schooler from Jefferson, Md.; Alan Sokol, a sophomore at St. Maria Goretti; Racheal Hall, a seventh-grader at Springfield Middle School; and Jim Klick, a seventh-grader at Western Heights Middle School.

Teens helping to redesign the teen section include Sarah Johnston; Robert Keller; Summer-Rain Quintana, a senior at North Hagerstown High School; Mary Kavanagh, a junior at North Hagerstown High School; and Becca Slate and Erica Hernandez, students at Clear Spring High School.

We're always looking for new teen contributors. If you or someone you know is interested, call or e-mail me.

Jake Womer is Lifestyle editor of The Herald-Mail. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2340, or by e-mail at jakew@herald-mail.com.

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