Liz Russo, the daughter of Paula Russo and Scott Russo, of Chico, is a henna-haired 17-year-old senior at Chico High School who is serving as editor-in-chief of its student newspaper, the Red & Gold. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the paper, making it the oldest publication under one name in Butte County and one of the oldest high-school newspapers in Northern California. It’s been a good year for the newspaper class but not an easy one, beginning with the absence of the regular instructor, who has been gone this semester. Then, two months into the year, the class learned that its substitute teacher had gotten a new, permanent job and was leaving. Like newspaper staffs the world over, however, the Red & Gold crew didn’t fold in the face of adversity. On the contrary, as Russo describes.
What’s the year been like so far?
It’s been different. Our regular teacher has been out all year on maternity leave, but even so it’s gone fairly smoothly. People at the school have been very helpful, especially the technical staff.
How about the substitute teachers?
We’ve had two, and both have been real eager to help, but neither had any experience making newspapers.
So the students took over?
Yeah. We’ve really taken charge, and we made some changes that have needed to be made. We now print in Chico, at the Enterprise-Record, instead of in Gridley, and we come out every two weeks instead of every three. We’ve also had a really intense experience just thinking how to make the paper better, since we’ve been kinda on our own.
How many students were returning from last year’s Red & Gold?
Only five. Everyone stepped up a lot.
I understand your principal, Jim Hanlon, didn’t even expect you to publish this semester?
That’s right. He came to the classroom last week and told us how well we were doing, especially that we were publishing every two weeks. I think more people are aware now of how much effort goes into this paper.
Are you going into journalism?
My family is a bunch of writers, but we’re all expected to get a business degree before specializing in anything else. My grandmother is generous about paying for college, but that’s her requirement. I like journalism, but my first love is fashion design.