Q&A with the advisor


Graphic courtesy of Canva.

Devon Helmer and Rylee Dang

This previously ran in the April 2022 print issue. 

This school year, 2021-2022, marks the Stinger’s 100th school year as a student media source for the East Penn School District.

The Stinger, a student-run news outlet, has been producing content for the EHS population regarding school, community, and nationwide topics since its founding in 1921. From continuous media coverage over the course of a global pandemic, multiple school lockdowns, and ever-changing political climates in addition to everyday events such as various athletic, musical, and theatrical accolades, The Stinger’s staff has stayed on top of developments. 

Student journalism gives young adults an opportunity for their voices to be heard in regards to important matters and changes happening within their communities. In addition, this outlet allows for more perspectives of an issue to be shared with readers, watchers, and listeners. A student-run paper provides a healthy environment for the growth and development of young voices, fostering passions that can develop into careers later in life.

Hearing the perspectives of students, staff, and community members within each individual article, The Stinger serves as the artist in painting a full and accurate picture of each issue they tackle. Most recently, English and journalism teacher Denise Reaman has occupied the position of advisor to the paper, guiding these students to successfully complete their mission in producing and printing the publication.

Stinger: How long have you been an advisor to the paper?

Reaman: I’ve been the advisor for The Stinger for roughly 13 to 14 years. I’ve lost count. Before that, I advised the student paper at Freedom High School in Bethlehem for about nine years.

Stinger: What is your favorite memory in your time as advisor?

Reaman: That’s a tough question. Over the years, I’ve watched many students go on to win national awards in Orlando, Chicago, Dallas, and D.C. It’s a tremendous experience to see them walk onto a stage in front of 5,000 other student journalists and be named one of the top 10 in the country for outstanding work. Some of them continue on and earn top awards in college as well and become national newspaper and magazine writers. But really some of the best memories have been simply mentoring writers and editors in a day-to-day newsroom setting, showing them how to tell narratives, search for all sides of a story, question authority, seek the truth. 

Stinger: What has been the most difficult story to complete? Your favorite story?

Reaman: Over the years, students have tackled very difficult topics, particularly those that relate to social and community issues. From my perspective, any story can be difficult to complete, depending on how a writer approaches it. Then again, it can be easy if you put in the work and the effort. As with all writing and other crafts, being thorough helps you throughout the process. If you skip steps, the work becomes more difficult. So I don’t think there is any single difficult story, nor is there a favorite story. I’m proud of every story that a kid can publish for the community.

Stinger: What role do you think the paper plays in the Emmaus High School community?

Reaman: The Stinger provides a forum for the diverse and dynamic group of people within our microcosm. EHS is home to so many people, and they all have stories to tell. The Stinger tries its best to tell the stories of people who may otherwise be underserved or underrepresented. The paper also provides information about the school and the community that students should know, and why they should know. 

Stinger: What has been the biggest change since you started as advisor?

Reaman: Clearly, student journalists work continuously to deliver information to their readers thanks to digital platforms. The Stinger staff works yearlong. News doesn’t end in June. We cover events throughout the summer, such as when President Biden came to Lower Macungie last year. Digital media provides the staff with ongoing coverage. While print remains important to the product, students use social media and its website to deliver content consistently. 

Stinger: Why do you love journalism/Why is journalism so important to you?

Reaman: As someone who came from a news family, I covered South Philly in college and never thought I’d do anything but be a journalist. It lasted for about 15 years before I switched to teaching. But my love for journalism remained. The Stinger has long had an exemplary reputation, particularly during the years of J.F. Pirro, who retired a few years ago. When I worked at The Morning Call, I remember we would get scooped by Emmaus High School students, and I remained in awe of the paper under Pirro’s leadership. Little did I know that I would advise The Stinger one day when I switched careers. I think I’ve held similar tenets to Pirro in that I expect all staff members to follow my FAT rule: be fair, accurate, and truthful. Our nation fought for the First Amendment – yet today journalists still die in other nations for the right to report the news. As the Washington Post states, democracy dies in darkness. The Stinger students – like many of their peers across the nation – look to see that the truth comes to the light.