Carrboro Commons

High school class not for the wary

Posted on March 24th, 2011 in Carrboro children,Editorials/columns,School news,Uncategorized by jock

By Michael Bloom

Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Not many high school students take a class where criticism and backlash are as commonplace as formulas and midterms.

Jan Gottschalk's journalism class produces the Jagwire monthly. In the above image, the class discusses the importance of diversity, responsibility and law in the news (Photo by Kimberly R. Holzer-Lane).

But at Carrboro High School’s student newspaper, the Jagwire, disclosure and deadlines go hand in hand for juniors and seniors.

“It was a very difficult week for our paper,” said Emily Vaughn, senior copy editor at the Jagwire.

In the March edition of the student-run paper, a map was published showing the layout of the high school’s lunchroom seating arrangements. Each table had a label corresponding to the perceived character of the students who sat there.

“The map was in the entertainment section—not to be taken too seriously—but it became much bigger,” Vaughn said.

Tables were labeled “jocks,” “freshman preps,” “ethnic beauties,” “senior burnouts,” “people who always leave trash” and “pretty little liars,” among others.

The caption for the illustration read, “The map may be one snapshot of the Commons (the lunchroom), but is it reality for you? Why be constrained by a label? It’s Spring and time to branch out.”

“We were amazed at the response from the map—it was intense. We weren’t thrilled that we were getting heat, but we were thrilled that it was making news and that people cared,” said Josie Hollingsworth, co-editor-in-chief.

The student response was like no other the paper had seen in its four-year history. A simple illustration of a daily setting caused an uproar the Jagwire staff hadn’t expected.

Faculty advisor and Jagwire founder, Jan Gottschalk, said students were tearing up copies by lunchtime. She said a ruckus had ensued and that students resented the illustration—one intended to be comical.

Gottschalk said that some students even refused to go back to class.

“There was so much turmoil that a couple of our editors decided to do a formal apology on the PA system one afternoon,” Gottschalk said. “The next day, we had a forum in our journalism class that filled the room. We had kids sitting on the floor talking about issues like diversity in our newsroom, the harshness of the illustration and the stereotypes that went along with it.”

Vaughn said the paper doesn’t regret the illustration. She said editors had to figure out how to make the students feel better about the illustration while still keeping their integrity.

The Jagwire is the student run newspaper of Carrboro High School in its fourth year of publication (Photo by Michael Bloom).

Even after all the commotion, the paper doesn’t shy away from juice.

They’ve spoken with the school administration about student depression, interviewed a drug dealer and conducted a survey on anonymous drug and alcohol use.

For the next issue, they’ll focus on sex. They plan to do side-by-side editorials: one about waiting until marriage to have sex and one about not waiting.

“I think it’s important to delve deep into an issue,” said Mary Morrison, senior online editor. “And with sex, there is so much to look at.”

The paper is developed, written and published in class yet many of the editors come in on Sundays to help catch up. Gottschalk teaches about 35 juniors and seniors in what she calls a “production class” that meets daily in what they all call “the war room.”

Gottschalk said the paper needs to improve upon its diversity in staff, with only one African-American writer and three Latina writers. She said they are actively recruiting more diverse students for next year’s class.

The publication goes to print about once a month, giving students enough time to complete stories on deadline and juggle other schoolwork. The paper is struggling to keep afloat with funds because all advertising is student-run. Both Gottschalk and Morrison said the development of their online edition is crucial for the paper’s survival.

Editors say they love what they do, regardless of controversy and high stress. Vaughn said that she has stayed late after school copyediting, but it was all worth it in the end.

And with a 20-page paper on the horizon, they’ve got to be serious.

“I would pass up on other work to do Jagwire stories any day,” Hollingsworth said. “With a paper like this and a family like this, you wouldn’t want to pass it up.”

The paper is divided into five sections: “Jag Country” is where school news is reported, “Top Spots” is for features, “Roar” is the opinion section, “Craze” is the entertainment section, and the last section is sports. Hollingsworth said news values are hard to maintain with a monthly publication, so the paper strives to be a news-magazine.

Gottschalk said she is thrilled with the way her students perform, especially the editors. She said she tries to keep them motivated and excited about what they’re doing in the midst of all the other demands they have as students. She said she wants them to still have a life.

“It’s like a family because we’re working toward something together,” Gottschalk said. “And it’s like the best of coaching. You want to bring the best out of them, using coaching skills. So you work hard, then you find time to play hard and celebrate.”

The dry erase board in the Jagwire "war room" is where it all begins (Photo by Michael Bloom).

Editors say Gottschalk brings a motherly affection to their lives. They said they trust her and trust in her judgment as an overseer of production.

“She was out of town last week, so when I saw her this morning she hugged me and screamed, ‘Mary!’ I mean, she’s my school mom,” Morrison said.

Hollingsworth said Gottschalk has a good read on the school.

“She knows what’s hot—she knows what’s not,” Hollingsworth said. “She can write six headlines in like two minutes.”

Gottschalk said students are proud of their paper and that the student body has also embraced the publication, even with a sticky relationship as of late.

“Students who are not a part of the staff still see something that they are proud to take home,” Gottschalk said. “It’s colorful, relatable and has a lot of stuff they enjoy reading.”

The paper is one of the most successful in the district—placing gold in a Columbia University award competition.

With a group of senior editors graduating in June, the Jagwire looks to the future to maintain its gritty reputation.

And maybe, more awards are to come.

For a printer-friendly version of this story, click here.

My first one-night stand for UNC Dance Marathon

Posted on March 4th, 2009 in A&E,Editorials/columns,Features by jock

By Corey Inscoe
Carrboro Commons Co-Editor

Members of the overall committee of the UNC Dance Marathon hold signs above their heads spelling out “$394,278.94!!!” the total amount of money raised. Since 1999 the event has raised more than $2 million for the N.C. Children’s Hospital.
Staff Photo by Carly Brantmeyer

Sitting on the floor in Fetzer Gym B, I didn’t know what to expect. Hundreds of other dancers were sitting around me organized into 24 teams, each wearing a different color T-shirt. Countless colorful banners with random quotes, statistics and jokes covered the walls. Butch Davis, the UNC-Chapel Hill football coach, stepped onto the miniature stage at the front of the room and thanked us all for what we were about to do.

Then, just a couple minutes after 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 20, we counted down from 10 and rose to our feet. When the count reached zero, the silver door connecting the two gyms opened and the mass of students charged through the tunnel and into the other room.

The 11th UNC Dance Marathon had begun.

Violence hits home

Posted on April 25th, 2007 in Editorials/columns by Robert Matteson

By Robert Matteson

America was beginning to lose its innocence at the same time as my generation lost its own.

I remember playing with toy soldiers the day that the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed in Oklahoma City. Four years later, I remember my teacher crying as she walked into class, undoubtedly looking for the words to explain to 7th graders what had happened at Columbine.

On September 11th, 2001, I was sitting in my physics classroom watching news coverage about the plane that had collided with one of the World Trade Center towers when the second one hit.

It seemed up until that day, the national mentality was that terrorism was something that happened in the Middle East. Even afterward, I felt completely safe knowing that Chapel Hill would probably not rank high on any terrorist target list.

And after a Jeep was driven through the Pit last year, injuring nine, we were unsure how to react. Was that terrorism?

And on Monday, another sad chapter was written in our coming-of-age story when 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech by a fellow student.

The events mentioned have very little to do with one another except the magnitude of their effect on me. Each of us can claim a different set. I’ve grown up watching the world through the evening news. I remember Peter Jennings’ voice reporting the Gulf War, and then that in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The violence seemed far away and artificial.

But no longer can I fool myself by saying “That could never happen here.”


Posted on April 25th, 2007 in Editorials/columns by jock

By Jock Lauterer

Earth Day number one, I remember like it was yesterday. 1970. As a young upstart editor at a start-up weekly in rural western North Carolina, I was called the “hippie editor” by some locals.

But that’s OK. There was this “hippie teacher” at the local high school, too, a gifted young visionary who, when he heard about the outrageous notion of holding a day to focus on the environment all across the nation, latched on to it with all fours. So we did it. And between the two of us — Mike, the hippie teacher and Jock, the hippie editor — dang if we didn’t launch Earth Day in li’l ol’ Rutherford County.

All these years later, 37 to be exact (I can always remember because my first kid, Selena, was one year old at the time), Earth Day has evolved into a more than just a single day; for many it has become a way of life.
My years in the mountains of North Carolina as a 24/7/365 small-town newspaper editor left me with what has become now a sacred legacy: a cabin on 50 acres not far from Lake Lure. And it was the building of that cabin during those “back-to-the-land” days of the ‘70s that really schooled me in ecology.

I built the cabin in a wide, lush hollow to be close to water — a creek that meanders affectionately around the house, so that sitting on the deck, you can see Silver Creek for 180 degrees and hear her gentle chuckling as she trips and falls and laughs over mossy rocks.

Carrboro isn’t commerical; it’s community

Posted on April 25th, 2007 in Editorials/columns by Liz

By Liz Thomas

Joining the staff of the Commons in January, all I knew about Carrboro was that it was a town of hippies. But of all the times I passed through, I had never seen any barefooted flower-power children that matched my pre-conceived notion of a hippie. I was aware of Carrboro’s love for organic, locally grown vegetables, and I worried I would be limited to writing about produce.
Paris of the Piedmont?
What if this small town would not have enough to offer a staff of journalists? Carrboro had never had a newspaper when the Commons started last fall, and maybe that was for good reason. To me, Carrboro was just a destination of the J Bus that I rarely visited because I was stuck in the university bubble of Chapel Hill.
I thought Chapel Hill was a stronger community because, even abroad, I can find someone wearing a Tar Heel baseball cap. This instant bond with Tar Heel fans is the same as my bond with ATLantians. Growing up in a famous city made me think that I had a strong community — a community that drank Coca-Cola, held Olympic Games and discussed the Braves when conversations went dry.
How could Carrboro-ites have a strong community? There is no easily recognizable, unifying symbol that defines Carrboro.
Maybe it is the advertising major in me, but I wanted to brand Carrboro. The Paris of the Piedmont did not suffice. Unless there were a breathtaking tower or a world-renowned museum that I somehow overlooked, Carrboro could not hold a candle to Paris.
Talent without the fame
When attending The Second Friday Art Walk for my first story, I discovered that Carrboro is an infinite creative outlet. Its impressive arts and music scene was enough to have me in awe. I had never noticed it before because Carrboro promoted local artists without the need of bringing in famous speakers or talents. Atlanta and UNC had conditioned me into thinking that towns had to be commercialized in order to be great. Without bragging rights of impressive enhancements, Atlanta and UNC would lose creditability
and hype; they would lose money.
But something besides money compels Carrboro to provide a rich array of opportunities and events.That was the difference between Carrboro and the communities I once considered more enriched.
Bigger isn’t always better
Community means something different in Carrboro. Bigger isn’t better for this small town. The people have a close-knit community with fairs and markets that enhance Carrboro. They don’t rely on commercializing themselves to entice visitors to become tourists.
Carrboro is captivating because new residents and visitors truly discover that the congeniality is pure. Carrboro is entirely genuine.
I get the hippie description now.
Love for a town like Carrboro is not measured in fame. Carrboro-ites keep their priority on the community – locally owned and organically grown.

Dear Carrboro: Ode to an old friend…

Posted on April 11th, 2007 in Editorials/columns by jock

From the 1963 Chapel Hill High School yearbook, the Hillife, Gouger’s sense of humor comes through in labels he applied to this photo of fellow “Banshees Three” singer, Davey McConnell, left, and himself, at right.
(Photo by Jock Lauterer, CHHS ’63)

By Jock Lauterer
Carrboro Commons Adviser

When my childhood chum Johnny Gouger laughed, it was no delicate matter.

No, not Gouger. When something struck him as funny, which was more often than not, he would cut loose with a trilling soprano cackle, a rooster’s crow of joy, a peal of merriment that went on much too long and much too loud for most public settings.

I am sure that his distinctive yelping laughter was well known at Elmo’s Diner in Carrboro, where he dearly loved his huevos rancheros.

At his funeral last week in the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery — the last place on earth you would expect to find a good laugh — many of us celebrating the life of John Sifford Gouger found ourselves chuckling at the memory of this latter-day Mark Twain.

His sister Judy, whose laugh is similar but more polite, told me that Johnny was “telling West Virginia jokes on his last good day” at UNC Hospitals.

That would be my buddy Gouger.

Carrboro residents shouldn’t forget about alternatives…

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in Editorials/columns by Robert Matteson

By Robert Matteson

The globe is still warming.
We’re still in Iraq.
But what we’re really ticked off about is signage.

The posting of the “Good Neighbor Rules” signs by Carr Mill Mall was met with resistance because of their placement and wording. The signs quickly were removed. The explanation posted on Weaver Street Market’s Web site stated, “The error resulted when the wrong file was sent to the sign maker. When the error was discovered, Carr Mill immediately arranged to take down the signs and have the wording changed.”

[ has a good (if colorful) explanation of differences between the wording here ]

In October, Mayor Mark Chilton and Alderman Dan Coleman met with Nathan Milian, and Paul Greenberg, manager and general partner of Carr Mill Mall, respectively. They worked to resolve the issue and set up guidelines for the space’s use. The group also met with Bruce Thomas. Last we heard, Bruce is dancing again.

The rules they came up with aren’t that unreasonable. Here is Weaver Street Market’s open space policy direct from its Web site:

1. Carr Mill Mall buildings, lawn and parking lots are for the use of customers while shopping and dining, for tenants and their invited guests, and for those attending public events. Event attendees must use satellite parking.
2. Solicitation and distribution of literature or handbills is prohibited except as specifically authorized as part of a Weaver Street Market event.*
3. Loitering is prohibited.
4. Persons panhandling, exhibiting drunken behavior or substance abuse, sleeping on benches, disturbing the peace or acting in a way that is threatening to persons or property will be evicted and subject to trespass.
5. Unauthorized performances and unauthorized large or publicly advertised gatherings are prohibited. “Performance” means any activity intending to attract or having the effect of attracting a crowd of spectators, or that’s volume disturbs others. Performances need to have the advance written permission of Carr Mill Mall.
6. Dogs must be well-behaved (no barking at or sniffing around customers), leashed, attended at all times, not relieve themselves on the property (accidents should be promptly cleaned up after) and watered with disposable bowls.
7. Stay out of all trees, garden areas and the pond. The edge of the pond can be used for seating but not for walking or running. Do not throw anything in the pond.
8. Alcoholic beverages can be consumed only in eating areas and not near the entrance to the offices or the edge of the lawn.
9. Table and chairs should remain in the designated dining areas.
10. No smoking is permitted anywhere on the premises except in specifically authorized smoking areas at the edge of the lawn.
11. Sidewalks must be kept clear for passage at all times.

Some of the points could be debated, such as what exactly would constitute loitering, but it’s one of those “in the spirit of the rule” situations. We’re all adults here. If there weren’t so many cigarette butts and beer bottles lying around, would the signs even be up?

The mentality in Carrboro is that the Weaver Street lawn belongs to the community and that people should be able to use it as they please. There’s certainly some validity to that mentality — Weaver Street Market is a co-op. According to its Web site, its second principle is democratic member control.

However, it’s not direct control. Representatives are elected who are beholden to the membership. Sort of like state government, only less bureaucracy and more organic food.
And like state government, if you disagree with it, the most effective method of change is not printing T-shirts. Speak with your representatives by telephone, or show up at their office and knock politely.

The Carrboro mentality is a little too quick to arm itself.

We are a small community, and rash, outspoken behavior doesn’t make good neighbors any better. There are alternatives available.

Just down the street, there’s a lovely place called the Carrboro Town Commons. Most of the time, it’s empty.

According to section 7D of its use policy, “No reservation shall be required for spontaneous gatherings.” A full version of the policy is available at

It’s a nice spot — there’s a playground for the kids and plenty of open space for the critters to stretch their legs. The best part — we’re all paying customers there, all the time, regardless of where we bought our herbal tea and organic blueberry muffin that morning. That’s the beauty of taxes.

There are better things to get twisted into knots about. We all want to protect the sanctity of our favorite places, but sometimes the best thing to do is take a step back and breathe.
If Weaver Street Market’s new policy really cooks your goose, then talk to one of the member representatives.

And in the meantime, go check out the Town Commons — the gazebo is pretty neat.

Carrboro High School goes green

Posted on March 14th, 2007 in Editorials/columns by jock

Tales from a Jaguar

By Daniel Matchar
Carrboro High School Columnist

Along with Carrboro High School being up-to-date on all of the latest technology and a highly professional atmosphere, the school is also “going green.”
It was recently given a certificate naming it an environment-friendly school. Staying true to its location, the new high school is building on Carrboro’s already excellent reputation for caring deeply about the environment.
Policy 9040, written by the Chapel Hill Carrboro Board of Education, states that it “supports the definition of High Performance Schools provided below and will incorporate it during the design and construction phases of school development. High Performance Schools (HPS) are designed to improve the learning environment while saving energy, materials, and natural resources.”
Without a doubt, Carrboro High School is staying true to the School Board’s wishes; surpassing any environmentalist’s wishes for a school. In fact, Carrboro has recently been registered as a LEED project (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) through the U.S. Green Building Council. The intent of LEED is to give schools that are willing to be eco-friendly means by which they can measure the buildings’ “green” performance.
According their Web site, LEED “promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.”

‘Web 2.0′ giant Blogads calls Carrboro home

Posted on March 7th, 2007 in Editorials/columns,Uncategorized by Graham Russell

By Graham Russell
Deputy Design Editor

When Blogads moved to its new office on Weaver Street, founder and CEO Henry Copeland and his staff were worried about one thing: The signal for WXYC, their favorite radio station, didn’t reach into the building. That didn’t stop them, though.

“Now we’re streaming it through the Internet,” Copeland said. “So all is well in Carrboro.”

Dear Carrboro

Posted on March 7th, 2007 in Editorials/columns by jock

The Report from Your Man in Italy

By Jock Lauterer
Advisor, the Carrboro Commons.

Our man in Italy, Carrboro Commons advisor Jock Lauterer, hard at work getting the scoop on Italian café culture.
Commons Photo Italia by Jock Lauterer’s self-timer

Ciao, Carrboro! Your intrepid reporter here in Bellagio, Italy, on assignment from the Carrboro Commons to this alpine lakeside town to assess the similarities between our two communities.
Seated at a tiny metal table adjacent to the cobblestoned piazza, I am nursing a latte-frothed cappuccino as the village goes through its morning rounds.
If you can forget for a moment the eye-popping “The Sound of Music” setting of lovely Lake Como, Carrboro and Bellagio share one distinct and fundamental characteristic. People trump traffic. It’s that simple, really.

Next Page »