The Forum

What Did We Report on 50 Years Ago? A Look into the Archives

By Vienna I. Austin

November 17, 2023

A section of the front page of the first issue of The Forum as depicted on a Forum poster.

The Forum has been a vital source of information and reflection for Florissant Valley’s students for five decades. In its 50th-anniversary edition, published on October 25th, the newspaper celebrates its history and encapsulates the dynamic changes in student journalism across the nation. The Forum’s legacy is not just that of American student journalism but also a testament to the evolving tapestry of students who have filled its campus and staff. The exceptional archiving and record-keeping efforts by The Forum’s team over the years provide a unique opportunity to delve into the campus’ past and the reporting done by its predecessor, The North Star, in the year of its inception in 1973. 

In May 1973, The North Star, which continued publication until August of that year, featured diverse stories. From a controversial frontpage opinion piece opposing the recent Supreme Court Ruling in Roe v. Wade to student-submitted poems, the four-page newspaper covered timely issues such as abortion, media misinformation, legislation protecting it, and the Student Senate. The edition, overseen by the eightperson staff led by editor Tony Abbacchi, also included kind and critical letters to the editors, reflecting the campus community’s engagement. The June edition marked the summer release, signaling a change with a new logo and a larger physical format. The ten person staff, now led by Patsy Ruth Lally, addressed community-oriented topics like library thefts and the Student Senate on the front page. The inner pages explored campus activities creative writing contests, and even featured an amusing letter about a student’s drunken dream unrelated to campus matters. The back of the paper celebrated Flo Valley’s sports, particularly the successes of the golf team. 

The final issue of The North Star in August highlighted a bold headline projecting an impressive fall enrollment of over 6,000 students, a noteworthy statistic compared to the current district-wide enrollment in 2023. The front page covered events like Cheech and Chong performing on campus and an overview of the campus radio station, KCFV-FM, at 89.5, in its second year. Despite the robust content, the staff had diminished to only four workers, indicating a shift in the publication’s dynamics. 

Regrettably, the first issue of The Forum remains elusive in the archives. The staff found only a poster featuring its front page, outlining the transition from The North Star to The Forum. The second edition, mirroring the design of the first, focused on presidential issues, including a poll on whether then-President Richard Nixon should be impeached amid the Watergate scandal. The eight-page newsprint, led by editor Louis Barkhouse and an 11-person staff, tackled various national and campus issues, such as abortion and bike thefts. 

The third edition of The Forum for 1973 witnessed a substantial increase in staff, doubling to over 20 contributors under the editorial oversight of Scott Bandle. While continuing to address major issues, this edition also featured a sports article as its main headline, highlighting the achievement of the FVCC winning the national JC soccer title. A prominent theme was a 302-student poll on sex, providing insights into the views and behaviors of Florissant Valley students on sexual topics. The edition captured diverse opinions, recommendations, and shared knowledge through editorials, analytical articles, polls, quizzes, and puzzles.

The Forum’s journey, though warped with age, mirrors the transformations at STLCC and Florissant Valley. As the newspaper is revitalized post-COVID, it can draw inspiration, information, and entertainment from decades of charming and essential work. The Forum remains a crucial outlet for the people of Flo Valley, continuing its legacy as a source of community engagement and reflection.