Ancient History

As the great Roman orator Cicero once said, “Not for ourselves alone are we born.” Ever since the founding of the school, students have taken it upon themselves to write and educate their peers on what is happening around them. They have given their time and effort to tell a previously unknown story.

The student publication has gone through a lot of changes since its inception. It all started with the Squawk in 1931. After a couple of decades, the name changed to The Cicerone, and the style of the whole publication changed. The Cicerone lasted until almost the end of the century when Fr. Tribou decided to stop printing it. But after just a few years, the student publication was revived and took the name Rocket Times. Then, in 2013, the school’s first-ever online publication, Liftoff News, took flight. Currently, the journalism class prints the Rocket Times and continually updates Liftoff News.

The Squawk became the school’s first official newspaper in the 1931-1932 school year. The name came from the school mascot at the time, the eagle. In the 1932-1933 school year, the staff published one issue. It came in the spring 1933 when the eight Squawk members featured a “Who’s Who” contest. The students voted on several superlatives, such as the smartest boy and the most athletic boy. 

“The Squawk looked like something you would put out in sixth grade,” said current journalism teacher Mrs. Gretchen Gowen. “The students wanted to have a newspaper, and they wanted to have fun with it. They did the best they could with what they had. It was typed, but all the pictures were hand-drawn.”

It is unclear when the Squawk officially stopped, but The Cicerone, which started publication in the late 1940s or early 1950s, followed it. The name ‘The Cicerone’ means a guide or someone who gives information about a topic. It comes from the ancient Roman orator Cicero.

Staff members of the school newspaper have always been a part of the school in many ways, and this has helped them write good stories that are relevant to the school. The staff was never very large, but these students did all sorts of other activities for the school. For example, the 1952-1953 editor Bob Hardin was also the center on the football team. Another member that same year was in the choir. James Harrison, who was on the staff from 1953-1957 was a National Merit Scholar and the vice president of his junior class. 

Even continuing into today, the staff members do many other activities and play sports. Current senior and editor-in-chief Rosh Ranaraja is on the soccer team and is a student body officer as well as the Rocket Times staff. 

The Cicerone focused mainly on news stories, while today, the Rocket Times prints stories that focus more on the students and their experiences relating to the school. 

Mr. William Doe, the editor of The Cicerone during the 1969-1970 school year, remembers what the publication was like back then. “As I recall, it was just four to six pages, and we only put it out twice a semester,” said Mr. Doe. “We had a pretty big staff that year, around twenty-five boys, but it was so involved to get it done. I remember having to go to a publishing firm somewhere near the school, where we had to get it submitted and type everything up. We covered sports and the student elections and things like that.

“I remember one big thing that happened when I was there,” said Mr. Doe. “The famous comedian Bob Hope came to our school and gave a talk. I know we covered that. Back then, it wasn’t a course. It was just a club.” 

Fr. Bernard DeBosier was an important person to The Cicerone. “He was a famous English teacher who had control of the publications at that time,” said Mrs. Gowen. “Fr. DeBosier was involved with the yearbook, as well as The Cicerone. He was a very literate man.”

Miss Jo Schneider, an English teacher who began working at the school in 1976, took over The Cicerone from Fr. George Tribou. “I started advising The Cicerone around 1988 after Fr. Tribou asked me to do it,” said Miss Schneider. “I enjoyed working on it very much. On average, fifteen students were on the voluntary staff.” At that time, the staff had to meet before or after school on account of there not being time in the day to work on it.

The Cicerone, however, was not meant to last. It stopped in 1996. “Miss Schneider and Fr. Tribou decided to stop printing The Cicerone, but I don’t know what the reason was for that,” said Mrs. Gowen. “But when it stopped as a student publication, the alumni association took up that name.” 

Students noticed the absence of a student publication, and it made an impact on them. In the fall of 1999, during the student elections, senior Mike Roach promised to bring back the student publication. “He followed through with his promise,” said Mrs. Gowen. “He was elected, and he contacted Miss Schneider and asked her if she would advise the publication again, and she agreed.”

Yet there was a problem. The alumni association was still using the name ‘The Cicerone,’ so the staff needed to make a new name. This marked the birth of the Rocket Times. “The name Rocket Times was originally suggested by the principal at that time, Mr. Mike Rockers, but it was the students who eventually voted on it,” said Mrs. Gowen.

After the student publication’s revival with the Rocket Times in 1999, not much changed until the fall of 2013 with senior Josh Moody spearheading a brand new online publication called Liftoff News. Mrs. Gowen, who had taken over the advisory role of the Rocket Times, wanted to have an online presence in addition to the printed version.

“We had been interested in doing something like this for several years,” said Mrs. Gowen. “We have lots of stories that we don’t have room for in the regular print newspaper, and Liftoff News gives students a chance to be published.”

Liftoff News was also effective last spring when a print publication was impossible because of the pandemic. “It worked out great that we would have a place to put the articles,” said Mrs. Gowen. “It really just serves as a great venue for lots of things.”

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