MONETTE, AR (KAIT) - Tracey Yates Thompson spent 15 years building a journalism program at Buffalo Island Central High School.
Now it is time for her to move on, but not without finishing strong.
"It's our best year yet," Yates said.
Buffalo Island Central High School has one journalism class with eight students.
"It is so amazing to see what such a small staff can be capable of," student Cadyn Qualls said.
However, this small class was able to accomplish a lot, winning 13 national journalism awards this year.
"Our newspaper was named all Arkansas for the first time ever so all that hard work on the newspaper this year has paid off," Yates said.
"We won something that is amazing, it just shows how hard we work for it," student Shyla Clayton said.
Yates knew it was her last year teaching at BIC, but that did not stop her from pushing the limits for her students.
"We really hit the ground running especially with our online newspaper," Yates said.
The students added new segments in the newspaper this year to highlight students and community members.
She reminded the students hard work is not about the awards, but they do mean something.
"We're not doing this for the awards but if we do it right the awards will come," Yates said.
Yates said winning all these awards and recognition was not easy.
"A lot of hard work to get to this point," Yates said.
Especially when you compete against programs with 50 plus students.
"The whole room of 4000 people heard our little group because I started screaming and nearly feel out of my chair," Yates said.
The eight students worked hard this year for their beloved teacher and learned a lot along the way.
"It makes me feel proud I had a small part in that," Yates said.
They created news and history for the school and community.
"We are the historians of our city, nobody else is writing books about what happens in Monette Arkansas, our yearbook is the historical chronicle," Yates said.
Yates' students wish her well as she heads off to a new adventure.
"She works so hard and none of it would be possible without her and I think the sky is the limit for her," Qualls said.
However, they are sad to see her leave and will miss her dearly.
"You have a connection to her and she is someone you can look up to as a role model," Clayton said.
Some students even thank her for opening their eyes to a possible career in journalism.
"If it wasn't for her I wouldn't have all these opportunities I have been given. Without her I probably wouldn't be in journalism, I wouldn't want to be a journalist and I would want to teach journalism," Camden Metheny said.
Yates said she will miss the place that introduced her to journalism as well.
"This is where I went to high school and this is where I got my first taste of journalism," Yates said.
Even though she is moving schools, Yates said BIC and the students will always have a special place in her heart.
"It is always going to be a special place to me," Yates said.
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