The Sword and Shield of the 80’s

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The Sword and Shield of the 80’s

By ELAINE ZHOU
Staff Writer

Describing UHS during the 80’s, the teen years of our ancient high school, can only be paralleled by the description of our teenage years: radical change. As teenagers, we mess up and mess up and keep messing up to try to figure out who we are going to be and, in the process, we change. We change how we act, what we look like, what we say, who we talk to, and who we spend time hoping that who we are will reveal itself in the change. In the 80’s, the Sword & Shield was the embodiment of that teenage lifestyle. 

For the first 15 years of the school newspaper, the Sword & Shield didn’t exist. The name our founding class of Advanced Journalism came up with was Univine. The name was modeled after the idiom “through the grapevine,” defined as an informal or unofficial means of communication or information. The name suited how the newspaper ran at the time. In its infancy, Univine had monetary and printing deadline restrictions that prevented news from traveling in a timely manner. Only a few issues came out each year, highlighting short-blurbed news stories that could not be accurately called news because the event covered occurred too long ago. 

The newspaper staff acknowledged their lack of efficacy and adapted. 

The new staff of the Sword & Shield wrote in the cover of their first issue, “There comes a time to pack it up and move on to bigger and better things.” 

And thus, “Univine” was put in the past, and a magazine replaced the newspaper.

At first glance, I wondered why a newspaper would suddenly switch to a magazine. Perhaps, the off-white, low cost, wood-pulp newsprint upgrade to the shiny new, glossy, color-covered was an imitation of the flashy, colorful fashion trends of the 80s. Maybe the change marked a celebration of University High School’s 15th anniversary. 

October 25, 1985 marked the birthday of the Sword & Shield.

The Advanced Journalism class of 1985 promised “the first issue of UHS’ new magazine, Sword & Shield…would be probing news features, humorous essays, biting editorials, interesting photography essays and an entire array of modern graphics.”

Not only did they add brand-new writing styles, but they reached out to all students to write their own articles to be featured in future magazine issues. The newspaper that only showcased a select few grew into a magazine for the masses, by the masses. The Sword & Shield was integrating itself into the culture of UHS. 

Originally, people had to find a Sword & Shield staff writer or go to the journalism classroom to turn in their written piece. This system later evolved into Journalism Club, which allowed any student outside of Advanced Journalism to contribute to the newspaper. Instead of just handing in their work to be published, contributing writers were able to learn different writing styles and get feedback from the newspaper editors through the club. 

The Sword & Shield eventually strayed from being a glossy magazine and converted to the newspaper Sword & Shield that UHS is now familiar with. The then-called “news notes”, made of small, crammed blurbs of news ranging from orchestra concerts to calendar school events turned away from advertising upcoming school events. “News Notes” split into two sections, News and Arts and Entertainment (A&E), both of which now write on events that have already occurred. Also, less news articles were stuffed into the Sword & Shield as access to the internet became available. Now, the Sword & Shield has an online platform with more news stories than shown in the paper. The Features section built upon the introduction of true features style writing focusing on figures and major events of the community from the magazine editions. Of course, some things never changed. “Sports Notes” remained the Sports Section. The “humorous essays” and “array of modern graphics” first promised by the Sword & Shield became the expressions section full of artwork and poems. The half-page Academy Driving School ads of the 80’s magazine were the ancestors of those glossy Varsity Driving Academy advertisements stuck in the middle of our newspaper.

So, the 80’s were quite a turning point for the Sword & Shield. The school newspaper learned to encompass what it truly meant to be a newspaper for the students, even if it had to become a magazine beforehand. It became a timely means of telling news stories and became integral to the culture of UHS. It lives up to its name as the sword and shield for the Trojans.

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