The HiLife marks 90 years of publication


Arlen Addison, Former Editor-in-Chief

This final issue of the 2013-2014 HiLife Newspaper marks a very special occasion for the paper. It is the ninety years of contentious publication of the HiLife Newspaper. For nine decades now, HiLife staff members, known as HiLifers; have been training future leaders and journalists, as well as producing an outstanding paper.


The HiLife newspaper has been around to cover most all-major world events of 20th and 21st century. From the Great Depression, to WWII and the Korean War, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam War and the Moon landing, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disaster to 9/11, the War in Afghanistan and Iraq and Hurricane Katrina and Ike. For all events members of the HiLife staff has been reporting from not just a student perspective but as global one as well.


The HiLife newspaper began back in 1925 at Webster High School by local students. This small building was located in roughly the same place as Webster Intermediate now stands. The school housed grades one through twelve. On the first day of the 1929 school year, 118 students were reported to be enrolled, 82 of them being High School students. Webster High served students of Webster and parts of Seabrook and Kemah. As a 1928, hand-drawn masthead declared “Webster HiLife; the only school paper on the Gulf coast serving 6 towns and 3 counties.” According to letters from previous editors, the first HiLife issues were hand typed by the first year typing class and most illustrations and mastheads hand-drawn.


Different grade levels has their own section in the HiLife, including Third and Fourth grade Babble, Fifth and Sixth grade Shocks, Fish Flops, Soph News, and the Senior Report. The students of the 1920’s were no strangers to the tough academic struggles of school. Groundbreaking news in a paper (circa 1929) included “The fourth grade are busy making maps of the countries of Northeastern Europe. We are afraid, however, some of the countries wouldn’t recognize themselves.” While in the Soph News it was complained “We Sophs will never have a chance to win the ‘Best Attendance’ banner if teachers don’t let up on our lessons. Only last week we had 40 lines of Shakespeare to learn and an English and Algebra Exam.”


As times changed, so to did the HiLife. As Webster High grew larger, the paper took on a more modern and sophisticated look. Column layout, pictures, and type layout began to emerge. However, the 1930’s HiLife still featured a gossip and joke section, known respectively as the Spy Life and Gay Life. The gossip section featured such coverage as “Martha Nell Stewert has her heart set on Billie B. because she thinks he is cute…Mildred Iccet can’t seem to make up her mind. Now it’s B.R. Gorsett. Not bad HUH??…What’s this we hear about Ellen N. and Jasper Coker? Is it true Ellen?” as well as such jokes as “Mrs. Connor to Victor: How dare you, I’ll teach you to kiss my daughter! Victor: Too late, I have already learned.”


During the early 1940’s the HiLife shifted focused on the topic on everyone’s mind, WWII. A 1941 holiday editorial read, “Within twenty four hours the greatest change that has ever been witnessed came over the people of America. For the first time we began to appreciate this land of democracy. Yes, we began to think of a lot of things that we’d been overlooking”. As the world entered WWII the school began contests to see who could buy the most bonds and stamps to support the war, with the HiLife frequently printing who was in the lead. The paper also listed the names of all senior boys who enlisted in the armed services and every afternoon the school would gather around the flagpole outside to say the pledge of allegiance and sing patriotic songs.


Following WWII and the 1940’s, the HiLife experienced its next major change, the opening of Clear Creek in 1956. Webster High students moved to Creek following the open and the HiLife followed. Creek had a relatively small student body at the time of its opening, having only having only 62 graduates its first year in 1957. During this time there was a small weekly issue, normally a single sheet front and back. As well as a larger issue printed every month that contained large news stories, poems and short stories from students, as well as the occasional crossword puzzle.


In the decades to come Johnson Space Center would bring large numbers of people to the Clear Area. As Creek’s enrollment greatly increased, HiLife stories shifted from small school stories to stories for the masses. With advent of better photography and technology, more picture and better layout could be seen in the HiLife. Given that the paper was completely student run, each group of editors had complete creative freedom the shape the paper to their vision. This led to vastly different design styles and layouts through the years.


The HiLife would experience its biggest change, however, in 1981 when Wynette Jameson took the role of Newspaper teacher and adviser. Under her experience and guidance, waves of new HiLifers were trained to be good journalists and produce an award winning paper.


During Mrs. Jameson’s tenure at Creek, she has impacted hundreds of students for the better. Former HiLifers have gone on to be career journalist, teachers, engineers, moviemakers, found non-profit organizations and much more. Previous HiLife editors had a lot to say about her and their experience in the HiLife.


“Ms. J and the HiLife taught me a lot. Specifically, she taught me to believe in myself in turn increasing my self-confidence. The HiLife was a great family of people that I had and I love still following what you all do. I still enjoy writing to this day; however, now I do mostly technical writing as an engineer.” Kim Hernandez, Editor-in-Chief Class of 1999


“I gained the confidence needed to launch a career in journalism…[M]y freshman year she asked us all what we wanted to be. I said a writer for the New York Times. She believed in me enough and encouraged me to the point where I felt it could be a reality.” -Chris Kirkham, Editor-in-Chief, Class of 2002, Pulitzer Prize winner writer.


“While I could speak forever about the HiLife, what I’d really like to say is how Wynette Jameson truly made a difference in my life. She’s an incredible woman, and her passion for helping people, students in particular, is why she has had such a successful and fulfilling career.” -Josh Shideler, Editor-in-Chief, Class of 2003.


“I can’t talk about my experience on the HiLife staff without sharing of my love for Mrs. J. Even before entering high school I had heard about Mrs. J and her incredible way of empowering her students. Even then I knew this was a woman I wanted to learn from. When I think back on my time at CCHS my fondest memories were made in Mrs. J’s classroom. I am so grateful to know her and to have learned from her.” -Micah Grace Wesley, Head Photographer, Class of 2008.


“Being on the HiLife staff is basically the reason I decided to major in journalism in college — I just graduated with a degree from the J-school at the University of Missouri and am hoping to land a job as a reporter when my internship this summer winds down. It’s kind of an intangible “skill,” but I learned that I really care about helping people understand issues that matter to them, and that gave me the fuel to chase after a journalism career.” -Allie Hinga, Editor-in-Chief, Class of 2009, Studied Journalism at Missouri State.


“Working for the HiLife taught me that young people are capable of vastly more than is usually credited to them. With the patience and faith of Ms. J as a teacher and a friend, and with the unique synergy that makes our students a team, the HiLife staff not only produces excellent journalism, but excellent young men and women who know how to express themselves and make a difference.” -Jacob Mancini, Editor-in-Chief, Class of 2012, Studying at University of Texas.


“People in the journalism world are always so concerned with what’s current or happening now and that’s not always print publications. That being said, the HiLife by nature is subject to change. Some traditions stay the same, but innovation has always been one of those traditions as well. With a new staff every year, and new stories to be told, it’s always going to grow and transform accordingly. As a HiLifer, I think we just learn to follow suit, and grow and transform, too, as our time on staff and the stories we tell shape us as individuals.”-Valerie Hellinghausen, Editor-in-Chief, Class of 2013, Studying Journalism at Missouri State University.


Following the arrival of Mrs. Jameson, the HiLife soon went through another historic change when in the 1980’s the staff received its first computer, a Macintosh 128k. Having only one computer, each staff member would have to take turns using the then state-of-the-art device.


In the next three decades the HiLife would continue to evolve and shift a more digital design of the paper. Typewriters slowly faded out as new computers replaced the previous king of typing. Film photography stayed around until the mid-2000’s. Many editors felt that digital photography could not compare to the quality of film.


HiLife kept advancing technologically until today when it has a classroom of Macs, digital cameras, printers and a scanner. The school has paid for equipment but the HiLife itself pay for the printing of the paper. Every month more than 2,000 copies are printed costing the HiLife more than $600. Printing is funded through advertisements HiLifers sell to local businesses.


Despite time constraints and the cost of monthly printing, the HiLife has always found the time and money to support worthy causes throughout the world. The HiLife raised money in 2001 for the NYC Red Cross following 9/11 and created the Ray Hutchison scholarship in memory of former HiLife photographer who was killed during active duty in Iraq in 2003. In 2005 the HiLife began correspondence with children victims of the 2005 Sri Lankan tsunami. The HiLife also raises money to Gracie, an orphan in Nairobi, Kenya through school for the past five years. For several years now the newspaper staff has also supported causes such as Invisible Children, Creative Visions, and the Cura Orphanage of Nairobi, Kenya.


HiLifers have also had the many great opportunities to bump shoulders with many inspiring people, such as the family of slain photographer Dan Eldon, Neil Moore, a journalist who follow the footsteps of Huck Finn by paddling down the Mississippi and collecting local stories, Hollywood director Jon Turtletaub, and many other inspiring people.


While the HiLife paper has covered many historical events and support many great causes, it is by far the HiLife staff members that are the most amazing part of the newspaper. Without the hard work and dedication from all the writers, photographers, designers, and editors the HiLife would not have been able to endure ninety years of publication. With the treasure trove of knowledge and experience that is handed down from each generation of HiLifers to the next, it seems likely that the HiLife newspaper will endure another ninety years and continue to produce an outstanding school newspaper.