Student Leadership

This project-based course is designed for students with a serious interest in leadership. Class work centers on discussion, development, and implementation of crucial aspects of good leadership (teamwork, self-awareness, effective communication, conflict resolution, etc.). Students reflect on their beliefs and opinions about leadership, exchange ideas and perspectives with their peers, and then apply what they learn to a project proposal. Students engage in in- class activities designed to help them put theory into practice. These activities enable students to identify their leadership style and recognize the strengths and contributions of others. In the final project, students consider the type of leader they are currently and the work they would like to do to benefit the Harvard-Westlake community. Elected ninth- and eighth-grade Student Council senators are required to enroll in this course.

News Magazine Journalism

Students apply journalistic skills to produce The Spectrum, the middle school news magazine: writing articles, conducting interviews, covering newsbeats, assigning stories, laying out pages, and editing. Editors assist the faculty advisor in setting policy, participate in meetings, supervise sections of the magazine, and oversee layout and overall design of the publication. Students must attend either a labor-intensive afterschool or Saturday layout session three times per semester and spend several hours each issue researching and writing stories.

Introduction to Publications

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of publication writing, design, and production. Students learn to interview and write news, feature, sports, opinion, and review articles. Design skills are developed through the use of Adobe Photoshop and InDesign as students create news and feature layouts. The course provides a strong foundation in responsible journalism and student press law. Students interested in joining the staff of the middle school's news magazine (The Spectrum), the school yearbook (Vox Populi), or the upper school newspaper (the Chronicle), or in contributing to the middle school literary magazine (The Tenth Muse), are encouraged to take this class.

Introduction to Yearbook Journalism I

Students cover middle school student life, special events, activities, and organizations for the yearbook. They make editorial decisions and are responsible for page layouts and designs. Management skills are developed as students learn to meet deadlines and communicate with the upper school yearbook student staff. Students are introduced to basic concepts in yearbook design and to the production values and procedures of the Harvard-Westlake Vox Populi yearbook. Introduction to Digital Photography is strongly recommended and may be taken concurrently. Students must attend labor-intensive layout sessions three weekends per semester and spend several hours each deadline on photography, research, and writing stories.

Introduction to Yearbook Journalism II

Students spend the spring semester meeting final yearbook deadlines and completing The Tenth Muse, the middle school's literary magazine, and Pathways, the middle school's community service magazine. Students continue to attend labor-intensive layout sessions three weekends per semester and spend several hours each deadline on photography, research, and writing stories. Students taking Introduction to Yearbook Journalism I are encouraged also to enroll in this course.

Public Speaking

Students learn to express themselves with confidence and clarity. The course is designed to develop presentation, listening, and critical-thinking skills. Students become aware of the elements of verbal and non-verbal communication and how to effectively incorporate visual aids. They deliver both impromptu and prepared speeches, including biographical introductions, informative "how-to" explanations, and persuasive arguments. Students gain additional insights into the basics of good public speaking by watching and critiquing speeches. They provide constructive feedback to their peers, articulating insights that can be applied to improve their own performances as well as to help others.


This introductory course is designed to teach parliamentary-style debate. Students explore both sides of an argument, support their points with evidence, and effectively communicate their positions. Key skills include public speaking, argumentation, reasoning, comprehension of empirical evidence and data, source analysis, refutation, research, note taking, rhetoric, and teamwork. During class, students work in groups to create research outlines, write and practice delivering speeches, and debate each other.


Intermediate Newspaper Journalism

Members of this class learn ethics and best practices for digital and print journalism. Serving on the Chronicle and Big Red staffs, students interview; report; write; produce infographics, video, and audio; and use social media to cover the news. First semester lays a foundation of best practices for scholastic journalism. Second semester offers greater autonomy and the opportunity to specialize in photography or video journalism. Students are expected to make time outside of class to research and prepare articles and assist with occasional weekend print- layout deadlines. There are some quizzes but no final examinations. Prerequisite: A middle school journalism course.

Advanced Newspaper Journalism

Students are reporters for the Chronicle website, Chronicle newspaper, and Big Red sports magazine. Working in section teams, students interview, report, write, and design for immediate publication and longer-term assignments. They create industry-standard infographics, video, and audio. Students cover a news beat, produce articles, and learn how to manage peers. They are expected to work independently outside of class and sometimes on weekends. There are no quizzes nor examinations. Prerequisite: Intermediate Newspaper Journalism and permission of current instructor.

Advanced Newspaper Journalism: Editors

Students develop advanced journalism skills serving as editors of the Chronicle and Big Red, student-run, nationally recognized publications. Students produce digital, print, photographic, and video journalism; sell advertising; oversee daily digital operations; and manage a regular print publication schedule. This class also works with the staffs of HWTV and the Harvard-Westlake Vox Populi yearbook. Senior editors serve on the Editorial Review Board, determining policy and content. Senior reporters, photographers, and videographers mentor younger students. Independent work outside of class and on weekend layout sessions is required. This fast-paced course emphasizes ethical leadership and appreciation for First-Amendment issues. Prerequisite: Advanced Newspaper Journalism and permission of current instructor.

Broadcast Journalism

This course focuses on developing content for live and prerecorded HWTV and KHWS news and sports programs. It builds on skills required to produce compelling TV, radio, and public service announcements. Students learn how to use a variety of studio-based video, audio, lighting, and teleprompter equipment. They develop basic audio- and video-editing skills while actively engaging in all aspects of live television, field-reporting, and broadcast journalism production. This class requires an extensive commitment from students after school and, occasionally, on weekends because the majority of content is produced outside of class.

Intermediate Yearbook Journalism

Students help to create the school yearbook, Vox Populi. The topics covered include principles of design and layout, caption writing, feature writing, photojournalism, advertising, and budgeting. Sophomores who have worked on the yearbook at the middle school and students taking yearbook for the first time enroll in Intermediate Yearbook Journalism. A strong emphasis is placed on developing leadership skills to prepare students to be editors as juniors and seniors. Students must attend labor-intensive layout sessions six weekends per year and spend several hours each deadline on photography, research, and writing stories. Prerequisite: A middle school journalism course.

Advanced Yearbook Journalism

Students are the page editors and photographers of the school yearbook. Editors provide the structure for the development of the yearbook, while page editors have specific areas of responsibility. Students research, write, take pictures, and design spreads. Page editors are encouraged to attend the summer journalism conference. Students must attend labor-intensive layout sessions six weekends per year and spend several hours each deadline on photography, research, and writing stories. Prerequisite: Intermediate Yearbook Journalism.

Advanced Yearbook Journalism: Editors

The senior editors of the school yearbook enroll in this course. Each editor has a specific area of responsibility and is expected to attend a summer journalism workshop. Editors supervise the work of other students and are responsible for creating the yearbook. Seniors must organize and attend labor-intensive layout sessions six weekends per year and spend several hours each deadline on photography, research, and writing stories. Prerequisite: Advanced Yearbook Journalism.