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The "Pitt 6" (listed from left to right) Gina Mathew, Kali Poenitske, Maddie Baden, Trina Paul, Pat Sullivan, Connor Balthozar

Photo by: Maddy Robison

Photo by: Maddy Robison

The "Pitt 6" (listed from left to right) Gina Mathew, Kali Poenitske, Maddie Baden, Trina Paul, Pat Sullivan, Connor Balthozar


After a month of interviews and a swarm of media coverage the journalists, now known as ‘The Pittsburg Six’ have yet to return to their  normal class schedules.

On April 29 the journalists attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, in Washington D.C., as The Huffington Posts guests of honor. While in D.C. the students visited the Huffington Post and the Washington Post.

On March 31, an intro article for the recently hired principal, Amy Robertson was published. The article exposed discrepancies in Robertson’s resume and resulted in her resignation.

“I began writing the story to introduce her to the community,” junior Maddie Baden said. “I set up an interview and talked to her, after the interview I had some more questions so I looked her up and when I did I found articles stating that she violated regulations at her school in Dubai.”

Baden was one of six journalists to write the story, other journalists include juniors Connor Balthazor, Gina Mathew, Patrick Sullivan, and senior Trina Paul, under the advisement of student publications advisor  Emily Smith.

“It was a collaborative effort, we all have experience and we all shared the responsibility of writing the story,” Paul said.

The article started receiving national attention after The Kansas City Star published an article on April 4.

“The story was getting a little bit of attention on Twitter but then we started getting more media attention. I could really tell that this was a lot bigger than we ever expected it to be was when a writer from The Boston Globe re-tweeted the story,” Balthazor said. “I was overwhelmed at first because as a student journalist you don’t ever expect your work to be relevant outside of your community, and in this case it didn’t just become relevant, it became prevalent.”

Other major news organizations such as People Magazine, ABC News, The Washington Post, CNN, also covered the story.

“I think this story went national because the fact that this is the power of what a high schooler can do. It’s just an example that you don’t have to be a professional to accomplish something like this,” Sullivan said. “We were just doing our job as journalists and I think a lot of professionals saw themselves in our shoes when they first started out as high school journalists.”

The students took part in over a dozen interviews from in person to skype.

“It’s been difficult balancing what we say and how we portray ourselves while still handling the subject delicately but I think that we were able to find the right balance and we made sure that our information wasn’t swayed or bias in anyway,” Mathew Said. “All the attention was just a constant reminder that this was more so about shedding light on an issue that we had uncovered, more than making us look like ‘super stars.’”

The journalists received positive feedback from peers and the community.

“All of the media contacting us was really surreal, we were sitting in the class jumping and screaming because none of us expecting a little town in Kansas to get this much recognition,” Poenitske said. “I think I can speak for all of when saying that we’re really humbled and excited and glad that there has been so much positive feedback.”

Smith hopes that this will inspire young journalists to write more and not be afraid to speak up.

“Everyone looks at newspapers like they’re going away and they’re not, journalism is evolving, it has changed, and it will continue to change, the model is changing,” Smith said. “When teenagers do something that is good, it is celebrated because it gives people hope for the future. When somebody helps a hurt person or solves a difficult problem it is celebrated because these kids are the future of tomorrow.”

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Faith Turner

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