Pine Whispers Preservation Project

April 5, 2013 (updated 1/1/15)

Dear alumni and friends of R.J. Reynolds High School,

Greetings from the hallowed halls many of you called home for some of the best years of your life! My name is Traci Latta. This will be my second year teaching at RJ Reynolds and advising Pine Whispers, our student-run newspaper. Thank you for taking a moment to let me tell you about an exciting project we are undertaking and how you can help us finish it!

My office in Room 210 once served as a darkroom, but over the years turned into a cluttered storage room. In this room are nearly 6,000 pages of RJR history in the pages of Pine Whispers from 1924 to present!

The previous adviser, Steve Hanf, found a company, Small Town Papers, who would archive these treasures for $1.50 a page, as well as box and store them, which is fantastic. But, the NC Digital Heritage Center, based out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can digitize them for free and we can use the money that has currently been raised, as well as future funds, to store them in archival boxes. To check out what projects the center has worked on, click on this link: https://www.digitalnc.org/

Imagine current students wanting to research school history or reaction to changing social issues over the years. If someone glanced around our not-so-green campus today and wondered about the school paper name or “Amid the Pines” alma mater, they could discover this:

The 1924 edition of the newspaper explains how a $10 prize was awarded to the student who came up with the winning name. Pine Whispers won out over “The Acropolis” and “The Student Life,” and the writer explains why with beautiful prose: “On one side of our school grounds are a large number of beautiful, imposing pine trees. These are our reporters, for they see and know every phase of our school life. They see every prank that we play on our fellow classmates; they hear all our gossip, and guard all our activities. A whisper is a soft, low communication and it is by this means that our beautiful pines discuss our school life. No pupil can see or hear as much of our activities as these pines, and now their whispers will grow a little louder, so that in the future no student will be ignorant of the accomplishments of her school and classmates.”

Some of our current students are second-, third-, and even fourth-generation Demons. Imagine how much fun they would have looking up parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who are among our school’s 35,000 alumni? For that matter, how much fun would current alumni have trying to find old stories and photos about themselves or close friends? For example:

Front pages from 1966 and 1967 featured students Ellen Angel, Martin Ball, Mary Beth Blackwell, Edwin Conrad, Ted Culler, Tom Foster, Woody Fox, Lynn Houser, Ronald Jones, Tracy Lounsbury, Carole Nanzetta, Marianne Nifong, Lynn Orr, Sawyer Ramsey, Lucretia Sills, Bonnie Sparks, Beverly Totherow, Mary Lee Wilson, and Carl Younger.

An October 1987 edition included Tanisha Booe, Charlotte Brown, James Cox, Scott Craver, William Dodd, Linda Hartness, Kelvin Hunter, Eric McQueen, Helen McWhorter, Brad Schorer, Catherine Sellars, Jeff Smith, and Sally Watson.

Spring 2003 editions of Pine Whispers included stories on Jennifer Banks, Jane Beasley, Austin Boehme, Justin Bohlander, Mary Kathryn Bowman, Amye Brown, Hunter Brown, Martina Brtan, Ashley Cassels, Nick Chauvenet, Chad Cross, Betsy Duckett, Kate Fuhrmann, Roxanna Hayes, Beth Johnson, Nick Nielsen, Jeffrey Parker, CC Pearce, Will Pearsall, Reyshawn Terry, Brad Thomerson, and Qaiser Toqeer.

Do any of those names ring a bell, bring back some memories? Do you remember being featured in Pine Whispers (at least in the Honor Roll, right?) but don’t have access to the paper copy all these years later? That’s what makes this project so fun and so important, but we cannot do this without financial support.

If you would like to consider a donation to this cause – however large or small – please contact me at the email address below. If you own a business that would like to contribute and receive advertising in our paper, at the regular website, and/or on the archives site in exchange for any funding, that also would be a great avenue we could explore together.

And if you cannot donate, please know that you still can help support Pine Whispers’ mission of outstanding scholastic journalism simply by connecting with us at PineWhispers.com, @RJRPineWhispers on Twitter, and/or Facebook.com/PineWhispers. Our social media platforms have attracted more than 1,500 followers in our first three years – an exciting development as we embrace the future of media while taking steps to not forget our proud past.

Sincerely,

Traci Latta, Pine Whispers adviser

tllatta@wsfcs.k12.nc.us | 336-703-4145

Students covering students since 1924

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