Indian Hills Journalism Students Hold a Press Conference with Local Police Officers

IHMS Press Conference
Shawnee Mission School District

To gain experience as interviewers, middle school students in Rachel Basden’s journalism class recently held a press conference.

They invited their school resource officer Detective Kelsey Houchen and Sergeant Adam Tayler and Patrol Officer David Poindexter from the Prairie Village Police Department to help them practice their skills.

Basden said the assignment was designed to help better prepare students for any research or writing assignment, whether they pursue journalism or not. It also gave students the opportunity to gain experience interviewing individuals from their community, including those who work outside their school environment. 

To prepare for the event, students spent time writing questions for the guests. They students were encouraged to form their questions without leading the interviewee.

Some of the press conference guidelines Basden emphasized included speaking clearly, addressing questions to a specific person by name, and looking at the interviewee as the question is asked. The students were also asked to take thorough notes of the answers they heard.

During the press conference, each student had an opportunity to ask a question. The students asked a variety of questions about going under cover, the most difficult and most rewarding parts of the profession. They asked about training, education, and how to pursue a career in law enforcement.

“I really liked that we were allowed to ask any question,” Daniel Sullivan seventh-grader, said.

The common answer or response was each officer related back to their hope to make a difference or have a positive impact on their community. They encouraged the students to think about the decisions they make now and emphasized the impact these decisions could have on their future.

“I didn’t know much about police work and learned a lot,” Hadley Seibert, seventh-grader said.

Basden provided a variety of resources and websites the students used to research the profession of law enforcement and each position. She received questions from the students about their preparation up to right before the press conference, which demonstrated their dedication and commitment to the process.

Scholastic Journalism Week is February 18-24. The Shawnee Mission Board of Education proclaimed the week at their February 11 meeting. Click here to read the full proclamation.