Real-life final exam turns students into reporters

January 12, 2018
Pete Winslow

It’s the end of first semester, which means many of our students are just finishing up final exams. For students in Rachel Steil’s journalism class at the high school, the end-of-semester test looks much different than most. Instead of taking a pen and paper test, journalism students spent their final exam time interviewing interesting community members and alumni and writing news articles about them.

“I actually remember this final,” said Pete Winslow, a 2012 alumni who returned to the high school this week to be interviewed by student journalists. “It was one of the best finals I’ve ever taken. It’s what you do in the real world and it really prepares you for what you need to know.”

With a group of students typing notes, Winslow spent about a half hour sharing his own remarkable story of representing Team USA in the Power Soccer World Cup competition. He was a member of the championship team in 2011, while still a high school student. He was also a member of the 2017 World Cup team, which finished in second place. After graduating from college with a degree in journalism, Winslow continues to train with the team and is preparing for the next international competition.

During the interview, he talked about his experiences balancing school work and extra-curricular activities in high school and in college with the intense training required to be part of Team USA. He also described the experiences of traveling to Europe, competing against other powerchair athletes from around the world, and ultimately, bringing home a gold medal.

Students had the opportunity to ask Winslow follow-up questions, and then spent the rest of their allotted time developing and writing a feature story about his experiences. WCCO-TV Meteorologist and Distinguished Alumni Chris Shaffer (Class of 1988) and Herb Winslow, trumpeter for the Minnesota Orchestra, were also interviewed by some of the journalism students as part of the final exam.

“Everything we do in newspaper is designed with the idea of a creating real world journalism experiences for our students,” Steil said. “Having them listen to a source, take notes, and craft a newspaper story is the heart of what we do every single day.”