What’s a Vanguard? A newspaper club?

The story of the Vanguard News.

IMG_5061-core-groupMichelle Mora
BALDWIN PARK, CA — Yes. The Vanguard is that newspaper club that you may or may not have heard of, despite the various posters and flyers flooding the campus worse than El Niño. The journey to this point has been a story of bloated ambition, humbling
failure, and newfound optimism that began October of last year.

“I started a club. You want to be a founding member?” asked Francisco Cardoso, our club’s president.

“Yeah sure, why not?” I responded without realizing how many times I would be regretting that decision — but more on that later.

We conspired in Mrs. Lee’s fifth period AP Language class and online through Google’s collaborative feature.

Our first order of business was to find an advisor — someone crazy enough to help us achieve our vague and wildly ambitious goal of revolutionizing something. We didn’t know what we were going to revolutionize, but we were determined to do it. We found one: Ms. Milnes, AKA the one whose classroom is in West Covina.

There were six of us: Leo – the Lion; Edward – the Tech Guy; Francisco – just Francisco; Damian – the Debate Club President; Ravyn – the Revolutionary, and me – that guy from class. Phrases like “Let’s be a voice for the people!” and “Viva la revolucion!” were thrown around during our early days.

Four hours and one Google Slides presentation later, we were ready to lure students into journalism – none of us knew the first thing about journalism, mind you. In fact, none of us actually even read a newspaper regularly. Nevertheless, we began our recruitment effort.

Somehow, 12 students were convinced that we probably knew what we were doing and decided to go through our application process which included a series of on-the-spot questions and a wild card writing assignment (I decided to assign them stories at the end of the interview to gauge how dedicated they were to writing). Surprisingly, all but one completed the assignment and thus gained acceptance to our cult…uh club.

So now what? We had a group of students ready to write but there was no place for their writing to go. We needed a website and we needed money to buy that website. With only three days’ notice, we organized a fundraiser for the Day of the Dead event.

We showed up to the event at 4 PM and realized how unprepared we were. The donuts were at a Krispy Kreme in Puente Hills and our president/donut deliveryman was still at the cross country meet at Schabarum Park. I looked around and saw every other club ready to go with signs, members, and most importantly food.

At 5:00 PM we had a sign, members, and thirteen dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. One after another, the donuts began to disappear. We were pulling it off! Somehow we had organized and successfully executed a fundraiser – none of us really had much experience in fundraising but we pulled through.

With the confidence we gained from the fundraiser we continued our plot to take over the world… I mean start an online newspaper to increase community engagement and facilitate the spread of information across multimedia platforms. We wanted to create a brand – we wanted a Vanguard in schools across the valley but it was really difficult to start additional chapters when our very own school didn’t have a newspaper yet.

Several months later, we realized how little we had accomplished. We had no website, we had less members showing up to meetings, and our motivation was dwindling. We had, however, gone to LA to tour the LA Times and have lunch in Chinatown (disclaimer: this was not a club sponsored event – we were just a group of friends who got together one weekend and took a trip to downtown LA).

Towards the end of the school year we found ourselves having meetings with the administration and representatives from the school district. They were interested in our project and we were hoping to get approval to turn our club into a class. Thankfully, we received approval and were informed that the website would be paid for.

Throughout the summer our future was uncertain – we didn’t know if the class would actually become a reality. While we had received the go-ahead, we had very few members. Ravyn was probably not going to return to BP but we had gained a few more core members. Whether or not the rest of the club members would join the journalism roster was anyone’s guess.

Over the summer, our advisor and four of our members went to Cal State Long Beach to attend the Newspapers2 Journalism Workshop. The trip was funded by the school and the attendees got some hands-on training that would prove useful toward launching the website. However, no one really knew how things would turn out when we returned to school.

If it weren’t for the efforts of Andres Martinez, our class would have been cancelled. A week before school began, we only had four people enrolled in the class. On the first day of school there were a little over twenty people – some were placed in the class by their counselors and the rest were recruited by Andres.

Over the last two and a half months, we have been hard at work – writing, taking pictures, and learning. Despite a continued absence of an official website, we continued to work, gaining much needed experience in the process.

So – what is the Vanguard? It’s us. It’s you. It’s every single member of this community. We may be the ones covering the news, but without the student body there would be no news, thus there would be no Vanguard. Welcome. We’ve been waiting a long time for this moment.IMG_5052-Vanguard-group

Just share it.