A Brief History of the “new” Sentinel


Toby and Simon collaborate on new content

Two months ago, Hammond’s school newspaper, The Sentinel, almost suffered a quiet and unnoticed death in the classroom of Sr. Azpurua-Borras. It was time to pay the annual web site fees, and yet student journalists had only produced one story during the entire first semester. Azpurua-Borras and his newspaper co-sponsor Ms Crabb were ready to throw in the towel.

Today, The Sentinel is back with a new look, new staff, new leadership team, and about ten new articles ranging from teacher and athlete profiles to breaking news and media reviews.

Simon Lumpkin, who is our new editor-in-chief, recalls the meeting where the lack of articles and momentum was discussed. “The thought of the Sentinel shutting down was not a pleasant one, but nevertheless one that galvanized us to make a push to save the newspaper,” Lumpkin said. “Although I had only recently joined, I became invested in the organization and its survival. 

Once the team decided to push forward with a plan to “re-boot” the newspaper, the next step was a display at the club fair, and core staff members only had one week to put it together. The goal was to find at least six people willing to commit to one story per month. A small group of boys that included Simon Lumpkin and Toby Brock switched into high gear to keep The Sentinel alive and managed to recruit more than six new writers.

Lumpkin recalls that “the days running up to the deadline for completed stories were nerve-wracking, but it became more and more apparent that we would have enough articles to successfully reboot the Sentinel and proudly perpetuate the newspaper for the coming years.”

The Sentinel has been around since 2019 when the founding editor-in-chief Hannah Wasserman approached her English teacher, Ms Breen, with the idea for a student newspaper. Breen agreed to sponsor the paper as a club and did so until moving to Mexico last summer.

Speaking through Facebook Messenger from Mexico, Breen tells us that Wasserman “was the one to really push for the newspaper and ran the meeting where we voted on a name. If I recall, a big reason students wanted a newspaper was to ‘guard’ students’ voices, and the idea of the newspaper as a sentinel took off from there.” Breen added that “there was also some talk of alliteration—The Skyhawk Sentinel, maybe—but we dropped the skyhawk part pretty quickly.”

A sentinel is a soldier or guard whose job is to stand outside a fortress and keep watch. The medieval connotations of the term inspired Crabb and Brock, who is the paper’s social media and public outreach manager, to design a new logo using a medieval shield and feather quill.

Prior to 2019, Hammond’s only student-written publication (besides the yearbook and the literary magazine, Ornithos) was a photocopied newsletter called Hawk Talk that was handed out during lunch about once a month. A brief attempt was made to resurrect Hawk Talk in 2015 soon after the Gills Creek flood, but it only lasted one edition.

The current Sentinel staff includes about 12 writers who meet on Tuesdays for an optional “eat & edit” session over lunch (Crabb’s room) and on Thursdays for story pitches and updates (Azpurua-Borras’s room).

The Sentinel is still seeking a movie critic, video game critic, sports reporters, photographers, a local events editor, and anyone else with interesting story ideas. Contact our editor, Simon Lumpkin, or one of the newspaper sponsors for more information.