From PMW to the big leagues

Catching up with FHS alumni on college journalism


Alumnus Hannah Shumsky poses after winning first place for news writing in a PSPA competition in March 2017.


Most people have that one class that impacts the rest of their lives. For some it’s physics, for others it’s Freedom Fortune 500. For a select few, that class is Print Media Workshop (PMW).

Many students that started in PMW have moved on to bigger and better projects in college. They have taken staff positions on their college newspapers and have even won special awards.

Hannah Walden – who graduated from Freedom in 2016 and is a sophomore at Point Park University – was heavily impacted by PMW. She is writing for her school’s newspaper, The Point Park Globe, while majoring in journalism.

Walden is a staff writer, as well as a copy editor for the Globe. She is also a beat writer for the United Student Government. They have their meetings and Walden must write a beat, an article reporting what had happened at the meeting, her deadline falling only hours after the meeting has ended.

“It’s much more fast-paced than PMW and I feel like it takes up less time since we edit  and put finished stories into layout Sunday night and Monday,” Walden said.

Her success and ambition all began right here at FHS.

“I fell in love with PMW and journalism as a whole. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else… I feel like I lucked out by finding my passion so early,” Walden said.

Grace Hutchison, a sophomore at Waynesburg University, is also still continuing in journalism. During her time at FHS, Hutchison was Managing Editor of the FHS Press her senior year.

On the Yellow Jacket newspaper staff, Hutchison is the Associate Editor of the Arts and Life. In this position, she reports entertainment and art-related events on the campus and makes sure there is coverage at those events. She creates newspaper layout and comes up with ideas for story ideas.

“I think that Print Media really prepared me for reporting at college. My knowledge of AP style and photography that I learned in the class still help me when putting together stories. Also, Print Media helped me learn that meeting deadlines is crucial in creating a good product,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison was offered to join the Yellow Jacket staff in the spring semester of her freshman year. During that time, an issue of their newspaper won the title of Best All-Around Non-Daily Newspaper across four states by the Society for Professional Journalists.

Hutchison is also on the yearbook staff. She is in charge of a number of spreads in the Mad Anthony, Waynesburg University’s yearbook.

Michelle Keith, a 2015 graduate, also is on the Yellow Jacket staff at Waynesburg. She works as the photography editor for the publication.

“I did both [newspaper and yearbook] my freshman year, but only the newspaper now because that’s all I have time for since I’m not an actual communications major,” Keith said.

Another alumnus, a recent graduate from 2017, Hannah Shumsky, is continuing on the path of journalism by writing for The Rocket at Slippery Rock University.

Shumsky was previously the Editor-in-Chief of the FHS Press. For The Rocket, she is a writing contributor for the news section. This means that her editor will email her at the beginning of the week with the basic information for her story, the topic, details, interview subjects and deadline, which is usually the following Thursday morning. This process gives her about three days to contact her sources and write the first draft of the story, which is more fast-paced than high school.

“The Rocket publishes five printed papers a semester and posts online articles on rolling deadlines. So far, my four published articles have been online only, and I had about three days to complete each of those articles. With PMW, I had about a week to write an article that would be printed a couple weeks later in the print copy at the end of the month,” Shumsky said.

The Rocket has many awards under its belt, including First Place with Special Merit through the American Scholastic Press Association. This award was also granted to the FHS Press during the 2016-2017 school year at the high school level under Shumsky’s editorship.

Finding a passion, club, organization or activity to get involved with going into college can help make students feel more at home, especially if they are moving from home to stay on campus.

“Being able to write about news on campus right away has made me feel more comfortable with moving away from Freedom to Slippery Rock. I’m having a lot of fun with it so far and I genuinely look forward to a new assignment each week,” Shumsky said.