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Although the pandemic has forced schools to close for the remainder of the academic year, members of the Philadelphia Student Union are determined to make the best of the situation.

On May 1, a group of PSU members launched The Bullhorn, a first-of-its-kind student newspaper that involves kids from all parts of the city.

“We all have really good ideas and we want to support each other during this time and organize more direct events to alleviate some of the stress,” said Aden Gonzales, a junior at Masterman High School. “For students to have an outlet for this is perfect.”

Discussions around starting a collaborative student newspaper actually started at a chapter meeting last fall, Gonzales said, as a way to bring students from across the city together in a collaborative effort.

Back then, the major issue wasn’t the coronavirus — it was the deteriorating condition of city school buildings.

When the Philadelphia School District discovered approximately 80% of its facilities contained asbestos, PSU organizers felt that despite social media, students weren’t able to effectively communicate with one another about the issue. A newspaper, they realized, could provide students a direct way of communicating and receiving news outside of school channels.

The paper’s name was chosen to exemplify its role in calling out problems and giving students a voice, Gonzales said.

The Bullhorn was officially announced on March 30, with social posts advertising the need for students to join the paper’s editorial, financial, design, and outreach teams.

So far, 30 students have signed up to be on staff, and 14 schools have agreed to take an active part in production — some that have existing student media, and others that don’t. The list so far includes:

  • Masterman
  • Palumbo,
  • CAPA
  • SLA at Beeber
  • Parkway Center City
  • Central
  • SLA Center City
  • Benjamin Rush
  • Girls High
  • Constitution
  • Frankford
  • Saul
  • Ben Franklin
  • Furness

The Bullhorn’s primary is to create unity among schools and create a platform that’s not only useful, but also allows for creative expression. An additional goal is to provide media opportunities for students whose schools don’t already have them.

From a mission statement posted on the Bullhorn website:

The Bullhorn is an entirely student-run newspaper that aims to equitably give a voice to students who might not otherwise be able to express their opinions. We want to cover systemic problems but also how those problems manifest in our day to day lives. Ultimately, we want to connect public school students across Philadelphia, creating a district-wide identity that mobilizes and positions students to leverage the powers controlling the district.

The paper will consist of six sections: news, opinion, sports, art, senior spotlights, and guidance. That last part will include useful resources for career preparation, advice for incoming college students, student employment and more.

Founded in 1995, PSU holds monthly Saturday meetings — which are now happening virtually. The organization also has multiple school-specific chapters, the first of which were founded at Simon Gratz High School and West Philadelphia High School in 1997.

Though the idea came from student union members, it’s no longer connected to the organization, according to PSU Director Fred Pinguel. It’s now a completely
independent newspaper. Organizers plan to fundraise for print editions that will be distributed the coming academic year, Gonzales said.

If you want to show support or contribute, email Bullhorn staff at thebullhorn215@gmail.com.