Colton High School’s Pepper Bough recognizes the power of community news

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Photos CHS: The 2021-22 Pepper Bough staff. Back row (from left): Edgar Lopez Perez, Myles Garza, Corinne Miranda Anton, Jicell Gutierrez Urenda, Alexander Sanchez, Briana McMullen, Misael Terriquez; front row: Alexander Cespedes Montiel, Alexus Perez, Emmanuel Ramos, Erin Dallatorre, Sadie Larios, Aireanna Romo.

Although Pepper Bough has been keeping Colton High School (CHS) informed since 1917, it wasn’t until recent years that its digital presence caught the attention of the community with its quick turnaround, timely news. 

While the news publication was once physically printed, yes on paper,  now it’s making headway with its website, pepperbough.com, and social media channels; giving parents and the greater community a stronger insight into impactful stories on- and off-campus. 

“Over Christmas break, we had a student named Sadie Larios, who’s also an editor of the Pepper Bough, write a six-part award-winning series called ‘Second Chances.’ She was passionate about telling the story of homeless individuals, and how powerful it is to provide this population with resources instead of letting them wither away,” said Jeremiah Dollins, Pepper Bough advisor and English teacher. 

Sadie Larios (4th from left standing) shares a moment with the men of Mary’s Village in San Bernardino after touring the facilities as part of research for her series about resources for the unhoused in Colton and the surrounding area. Also pictured is Mary’s Mercy Center Executive Director Dan Flores (second from left, standing).

Dollins said he had the contact to Mary’s Mercy Center’s Executive Director Dan Flores, who connected Larios with four men living in Mary’s Village, a transitional housing facility, to tell their stories.

“This six-part series is the most powerful piece I’ve seen published in any media. We published a new ‘Second Chances’ piece for six weeks straight, she didn’t miss a deadline, and all of this was during the Christmas holiday break. I’m extremely proud of her,” continued Dollins. 

Emmanuel Ramos interviews Colton Mayor Frank J. Navarro for comments on a story involving the girls' basketball team's petition for improved traffic safety conditions along Rancho Avenue after an accident severely injured one of their teammates.

Another notable article published by the student-led publication recognizes 11th Grade student Hector Medina, who was recognized for an act of heroism by Colton Police Chief Henry Dominguez, for potentially stopping a child abduction. 

“One of our staff writers, Sarah Sanchez, wrote this piece regarding a male student named Hector Medina, being awarded for potentially having stopped a child abduction when he noticed a suspicious man following his female classmate home. He jumped into action by joining her so she wasn’t alone, before urging a nearby adult to call the police,” Dollins said. 

It’s those impactful stories that have the CHS students and community engaged week after week not only on its website, but its Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages as well. 

“I want my students to understand the value of creating a community news publication. If a story isn’t impactful to CHS or the Colton community, we aren’t running it and the students understand that. I’m proud of the contributions they’ve made,” concluded Dollins. 

For inquiries, email pepperbough@gmail.com.