Mountain Echo changes over years


1975 AAHS yearbook

This 1975 yearbook features the Mountain Echo staff.

Allison Little, Reporter

The Mountain Echo has been around for a long time. This over one hundred year old publication was called the Maroon and White at first and then later changed to the Mountain Echo to avoid repeating the name of other publications

Many yearbooks showcase the history of the Mountain Echo.

“The staff has introduced many innovations this year that it will be wise for succeeding classes to follow,” a 1920 AAHS yearbook said. 

The publication was a print newspaper for a long time. A former co-editor of the newspaper Kelsey Nariania worked for the print publication when she was a student. 

“Print journalism isn’t always available to everyone in the community like online ones are now,” Nariani said.

“Since I have been adviser we have only had one print edition,” current adviser Wanda Vanish said.  “The Altoona Area School District Foundation provided a grant and under editor Ben Blackie’s leadership, the staff produced and published a print edition that was given to all students for free.  The budget just isn’t there for printing anymore since the online platform is such a reduced cost.  I don’t think most  people realize the student journalists provide 100% of the funding for their publication.  Although it is online, we use the Student Newspaper Organization for hosting and that must be renewed each year.  The student journalists also need equipment for photos, podcasts etc.”

Since its creation the paper has maintained professional  memberships in organizations such as Quill and Scroll, Columbia Scholastic Press Association, Pennsylvania Scholastic Press Association and the National Scholastic Press Association.  Student journalists also compete in contests and scholarship opportunities from organizations such as the Journalism Education Association.

A 1921 yearbook proclaimed, “The termination of the fifth year finds the Mountain Echo still a leader among the school papers of this state.” 

Former reporter, now head of theatre at the Boston Conservatory, Scott Edmiston feels that the topics covered on the Mountain Echo have changed drastically since 1916. 

“I think when I worked on the Mountain Echo it was mostly school information because that’s as big as our world’s view was. Now reporters get to have opinions about the world and culture and social trends and social figures and politics, and I think it would be an opportunity to hear students’ perspectives on a whole range of things, not just school activities,” Edmiston said. 

Changes in technology bring changes to the publication.

“Not only did the Mountain Echo come out once a month on paper….we laid it out on a lightboard and had the first computer program to do so, and we literally cut and pasted articles onto the proof sheets before it went to the printer! I also wrote a column and someone sent me clips of the column a few years ago….cringeworthy but also a bit of a time capsule,” science teacher Jessica Hogan said.

The newspaper used to only be a school sponsored club and not class. These changes have led up to the school newspaper that students, staff and people in the community now know and love. Advisers have changed over the years.  Prior to Vanish and Mike Baker, Edna Neely was adviser.

“I was not a Mountain Echo staffer during high school. I had class in Miss Neely’s room and had a few friends who were on the staff. At that time (1987), they were printing stories on a laser printer (the only one in the district at the time), then literally cutting and pasting onto a layout board. They had one Macintosh and that huge laser printer,” Baker said.

“Newswriting was where I learned Edna Neely’s famous quote: ‘Deadlines are to beat, not to meet!” Hogan said.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to currently advise this publication with such a long standing history.  Although I didn’t write for the high school paper when I was in school, I did write for the Blue and White at Roosevelt Junior High.  Watching student journalists mature and grow is the best part of my job.  I am proud of every story that is published and the student journalists quest to represent the school and the future of journalism.  I hope every student and teacher looks at what these students accomplish on the website they update on a daily basis.”