Gazebo Launches New Website

The Stratford Gazebo is delivering the news to students where they live: online.

Stratford Academy’s student newspaper published its first online edition Friday on the Gazebo‘s new website, www.stratfordgazebo.com.

“I’m excited to see how people will react to the Gazebo online,” said 10th grader Wehbe Lee, who began reporting for the paper last year.

Journalism advisers Mr. Chris Loomis and Ms. Robin Schorr made the decision to move the paper online at the end of last spring after only two papers were published during the 2012-2013 school year, largely due to complications in design.

The main reason for the move, however, was to get more students reading the paper and make the Gazebo a more important part of the upper school, according to Loomis.

“As much as we love traditional print newspapers, we wanted to find a better way to reach out to and engage Stratford students. We believed going online was the best way to achieve this objective,” he said.

Built over the summer by a professional web design firm, Southpoint Media, the new website features separate pages for news, opinion, arts, sports, and the Gazebo’s social section, the Back Page. Southpoint Media modeled the website after the print version of the Gazebo with input from Loomis and Schorr.

One distinctive feature of the website is the new and increased opportunities for students outside the journalism class to interact with the paper. The user-friendly website allows for easy navigation. From letters to the editor to guest editorials and “Dear Becca,” a forthcoming advice column, the online Gazebo is full of ways for students to become a part of the paper.

The website is even connected via a live feed to the paper’s own Twitter account, @StratfordGazebo.

Students in the journalism class were a little nervous when they heard about the change, fearing their hard work and stories would be lost in the abyss of the World Wide Web.

But Upper School Principal Ms. Margaret Brogdon had a few reassuring words. “Our students are so accustomed to looking at EVERYTHING online that I think this is a good move and a good fit. They can pull it up on a smartphone or iPad or read it at home on their home computers,” Brogdon wrote in an e-mail.

Returning journalist Amber Datta can already see how the change has affected the class.

“It has become much more structured this year. I feel that we’re going to have more papers out and faster because of this change,” said Datta, a sophomore.

Bailey Toole, a 9th grader who is new to the class, said the move online was a pleasant surprise on the first day of school.

“From what I have heard people say, I think the design will be easier this year. Just because I’ve always known the printing and designing is the stressful part. This year it’s just write it, put it up, and it’s done. It’ll be faster paced,” she said.

Gazebo readers are excited about the transition as well.

“I think it will be very nice. We’ll be saving paper, which Mr. Bridges will enjoy,” senior Katie Hlavaty said. Senior Rudy Bowen added, “I’m excited because it will allow access for more people.”