By Uriel Molina, Staff Writer
Notification sounds are heard frequently throughout the Verbum Dei High School community when Dr. Brandi Odom, Chief Academic Officer, sends an email “blast” so that stakeholders can access her recently updated newsletter article. Programmed and created by Odom herself, the newsletters provide detailed information on the latest campus news to all students, faculty, and parents at VDHS.
Based originally an idea from John Stradley, The Present Dei moderator/teacher, Odom created the newsletter program a couple of years ago for the students, teachers, faculty, staff, and parents associated with Verbum Dei to be informed of everything that is happening at Verbum Dei.
“It first started as me creating the newsletters and sending them as Microsoft attachments through email,” said Odom.
Determined to “up her game” in the newsletter business, Odom decided to use Smore, a newsletter publishing website that allows editors to create online newsletters such as The Verbum Dei Community Letter. Smore allows Odom to create newsletters quickly and easily, so that the Verbum Dei community can access the newsletter quickly and easily in their email inboxes.
Odom sends modified newsletters to the faculty/staff and to the community, which are suited to their particular concerns.
As she sends a separate newsletter to the faculty and staff, Odom explained, “I try to have something on their newsletter that is focused on teaching: I have videos, articles, or anything for the faculty and staff that helps them to improve in the teaching area.”
The information contained in the faculty/staff and community letters are not dramatically different aside from the motivational teaching information Odom sends to personnel. Generally, all the school information gets sent to everyone in the community.
In a different school publication, The Present Dei Online News Source shares all content with the entire Verbum Dei community (and the world through the World Wide Web).
The Present Dei, an online school publication, was initially created as a extracurricular club by Stradley, the “philosopher” behind the Community Newsletter Dr. Odom publishes today. A lack of student interest prompted the publication to go into hiatus, until it was revived in the 2018-2019 school year as Journalism, a senior elective.
Odom’s community letter has an established publishing record, yet under the positive progression and expanding readership of The Present Dei, Odom’s newsletter may face competition for readership.
“I don’t see The Present Dei taking over my newsletters; my newsletters are more dymanic – maybe if The Present Dei were to step up [its] game and come over to Smore, then maybe we’ll work something out in the future,” said Odom.
Stradley is proud of the achievements of the 14 student journalists who have collectively written more than 130 articles, editorials, and features since reviving the publication last October.
“The two publications serve the same audience, but they serve different needs,” said Stradley. “The journalism students are learning to think like reporters: to anticipate what readers need to know about the news they are writing and to report it fairly, accurately, and objectively.”
“Dr. Odom’s goal is to keep the community abreast of critical information and to inspire parents, faculty and staff, and the student body,” said Stradley.
Without passing over Present Dei articles, all stakeholders in the VDHS community might be advised to take a minute to view Odom’s newsletters to be updated quickly with the latest Verbum Dei information.