No, that isn’t a screencap from The Atlantic. Our student-run newspaper The Hawk’s Eye has a brand-new look. The redesigned site is the result of a months-long collaboration between the expository writing class––“Expos” for short––and a team of computer science students.
Approximately forty Upper School students work on The Hawk’s Eye, reporting news and features, writing op-eds, and creating podcasts and vlogs. The students weigh in on everything from politics to pandemic proms, from in-class disccussions of current events to interracial dating.
“I think we really do important work in Expos––work that people in the community need to see,” says Cole R. ’22. “Our old site didn’t necessarily facilitate that.”
Back in December, explains Hayden T. ’23, Expos reached out to the computer science class for their coding and design expertise. They wanted to know what it would take to build a new website, one they could update frequently. Three students––Sean C. ’21, Arun P. ’21, and Justin W. ’21––knew they could help and adopted the site as their end-of-semester project for Advanced Topics in Computer Science.
“There was a moment early on when we considered constructing the site by ourselves,” says Cole R. ’22, “but I'm glad we went in a different direction! The site could have never reached this quality without the CS students.”
“The two big points that Expos wanted were a modern interface and customizability,” says Sean C. ’21. “We worked with them to create a site modeled off of The Atlantic, among various other sites. We also created a completely custom WordPress theme, so we have total control over the look and function of the site.”
In biweekly meetings with the three web developers, Expos talked about how they navigate their back-end, what tools would be helpful to add, and shared their creative vision for the public-facing site.
“The old site was aging and inefficient for creating and posting articles,” says Arun P. ’21. “It lacked quite a few of the features they needed to create and share their content.”
“With the WordPress CMS, we were able to implement roles for various Expos staff, such as reporter, editor, and admin,” says Justin W. ’21. “These roles allow for different permissions within the staff.” News sites like the Times and The Atlantic function similarly: junior editors can upload their work into the CMS, but only section editors can approve and post. This allows for a seamless workflow with quality control.
As far as the public-facing site, Arun P. ’21. says, “Expos had a clear vision of how they wanted it to look: modern, sophisticated, and engaging to the HRS community. We were honored to bring their vision to life.”
“We also added many features that they didn’t previously have, such as a sports score section, a popular article list, and embedded social media content,” says Justin W. ’21.
All agreed the collaboration was a valuable and fun experience, “truly amazing” in Arun’s words.
“I've been really impressed with the commitment of the computer science crew,” says Andy Spear, Upper School English Teacher and Expos Advisor. “They honored the design goals of the journalism students, and then developed a strong relationship that led to some good evolution from the initial plans. It’s felt like collaboration at its best.”
With the polished website, our community can better read, watch, and listen to the informative, engaging Hawk’s Eye content. “Our new site is meant to promote students' work, draw in readers, and create excitement,” says Hayden T. ’23. Mission accomplished. Once you’re on the site, you’ll get caught up reading article after op-ed after feature. These smart, informed students have a lot say about our current world. We’d be wise to listen.