HSJI class features investigation, education

High School Journalism Institute feature writing workshop students investigated the sudden and contagious mumps outbreak and learned about the structure of a feature story as part of their week long camp.

The workshop began with adviser and teacher Claire Burke introducing her class to the differences between writing news story and writing feature stories, which Los Lomas High School senior Kate Beeby said was very helpful to her. 

“I have only ever written news stories, so Claire educating us on news versus features helped me,” Beeby said. “She also taught us how to properly structure a quote in a way directly correlating to feature stories, which was new to me.”

During the classes, Burke also taught her students how to organize a feature story, and the class worked collaboratively while reading numerous stories and editing each other’s articles.

“Most of the class the teacher gave out worksheets and had us read the information out loud,” Marist High School junior Isabella Schreck said. “There was a lot of time to work on the various feature stories we had to write, and time to peer edit if we found it necessary, which I did.”

Burke assigned her students to write a feature investigating the outbreak which began in February. More than 17 mumps cases had been confirmed at Indiana University., according to People.com. While most students focused on the university students infected and the outbreak itself, Beeby focused on the staff. 

“After the interview with an IU nurse, I knew I wanted my story to be different,” Beeby said. “I wanted to make it personal to the staff and try to get the readers to understand everything they went through during this past school year.”

Overall, Schreck found the class interesting and enjoyed learning about feature stories and the different angles journalists can take while writing features. 

“I liked feature writing because it allows for more words, which to me means more expression,” Schreck said. “It also allows for storytelling and captivating the reader, rather than straight facts.”