Looking Back: Past Paw Prints Reveal Wilde Lake’s Yesterday and Now



Since its creation, The Paw Print has gone through many different editors, writers, and designs, but it has always been the sole student news source at Wilde Lake High School. “The Paw Print” is the student newspaper of Wilde Lake High School, and has been written and published by students since the 1970s. The archive is composed of 87 past newspaper issues dating back to 1985.

Over 30 years after the first issue of “The Paw Print” was placed in the hands of Wildecats, “The Paw Print” staff has released a digital archive. The archive gives current Wildecats a look into the history of the Lake.

  As the archivist, I believe that one of the main goals of “The Paw Print” archive release is to give students access to records of their school’s history.

I had the opportunity to go through decades of Wilde Lake’s history as I scanned and uploaded the pages. When I first started, I did not think I would find much more than a bunch of dusty old papers, but in reality, I was opening a time capsule. These papers allowed me as a reader to immerse myself in the history Wilde Lake–although I had attended the school for the past four years, I knew nothing about its past.

 One of the best things I saw were pictures of our current building while it was still under construction in Volume 24, Issues 2 and 4 (1995). From 1994-1996, the old Wilde Lake building was torn down and replaced, and during these years, all Wilde Lake students attended River Hill. In the first issue of Volume 24, published in 1995, many articles were published about the transition to River Hill, with headlines such as ”Lake and River Flow in Different Directions” and “School Spirit Endures Change.” I think this is one of the most interesting papers because it really gets down to who Wilde Lake was at the core, even while attending a different school.

Most notably, I uncovered the opinion pieces written decades ago. A number of these pieces were written about issues that still affect us today: final exams, eating lunch at the village center, and diversity and inclusion at school. 

Mrs. Fetchko, “The Paw Print” advisor from 2000-2010 said of the archive, “I think it’s interesting to think about what kids were thinking about then. What was on their minds 20 years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago? It’s a different world.”

Some of the articles remind us that despite the age of the newspaper, the article topics are not as unfamiliar as a student might think. An article titled “Proposed 7:30 Starting Time Awakens Concern” from the February 1993 issue, addresss students getting to school safely and having to get up earlier were brought up. This year, as history repeats itself, “The Paw Print” will release an article titled “High Schools to Open 35 Minutes Later Next Year: Students and Teachers Conflicted.” 

Also, in an article titled “Committee Suggests Five Day Advisory” in the February 1998 issue, “The Paw Print” wrote about the backlash against the reduction of advisory. Since the reintroduction of advisory in 2021, “The Paw Print” has released five articles about the implementation and then the cutdown of Advisory.

Mr. Berkowitz, an adviser of “The Paw Print” for decades says, “Reading the archive can give people a glimpse into the character, the operations, and the “lifestyle” of the school in its beginnings. “It’s like a window to the past,” says Mr. Berkowitz, one of the advisors of “The Paw Print” during the first few decades of the paper.

Current students might not know the rich history of Wilde Lake’s approach to education.  When the school first opened in 1971, Wilde Lake was a “project school” with unconventional approaches to learning like a different grading system to other schools in the county, which was mentioned in an article in the November 1986 issue titled “ABCDE Is Not For Wilde Lake.” 

Students might not know that the building used to be circular and had many unique features. This was outlined in an article published in the June 1994 issue titled “Explaining Our Unique Design.” The original schedule also used to be different, with one lecture day a week, and the rest of the days reserved for independent work time, as remembered in the June 1994 issue. These are just a few of the stories that helped shape Wilde Lake over the years and are now all immortalized in the archive.

The newspapers of the past allow for students to learn about the history of Wilde Lake. Newspapers report on what matters most at a given time. Students will be able to choose a year and an issue of paper and understand what the students at Wilde Lake cared about at that moment. The ability to navigate through the history of their school by themselves is an opportunity that Wilde Lake students have never had before.

The release of this archive also helps reinforce the importance of student journalism. In the words of 2019-2021 Paw Print Editor-in-Chief Sarah Rubin, “I think the importance of student news is honestly the students. Student news is meant to get students involved, and help them understand that they matter.” Whether it be from a Letter to the Editor sent in by a student or an opinion piece written by a newswriter, the archive helps to show that a student-run newspaper ensures a student’s right to freedom of press. 

This archiving experience has helped me learn that while many things have changed over the years, the spirit and values of Wilde Lake have stayed the same, like with the numerous satire newspapers we’ve published over the years to poke fun at current events or when Wildecats were sent to River Hill and still maintained their Wildecat spirit. Long before we took on the name “Ohana,” Wilde Lake was a family. 

If you know someone who has copies of any of the papers you don’t see in our archive, please don’t hesitate to use the tab on our website to send it to us.