Upper school Communications Department Head and Chronicle adviser Melissa Wantz is leaving her position after one year.
Former journalist and adviser to The Occidental Weekly at Occidental College Jim Burns has been hired to oversee the program next year.
Wantz taught three sections of journalism classes, advised the quarterly sports magazine Big Red and served as a member of the Faculty Academic Committee.
She came to the school from Foothill Technology High School in Ventura, where she was an English teacher, technology coordinator and adviser for its online newspaper, The Foothill Dragon Press.
This year, she made it a priority to introduce new digital tools for staff communication and multimedia storytelling.
“Communication has really changed in the past 10 years with the rise of smartphones, and I think journalism has to respond to that and the fact that news is coming in all the time,” Wantz said.
Wantz facilitated the release of a new app and new website, which gave the Chronicle a greater online presence than it had in previous years.
Under her leadership, the Chronicle was named one of the top high school newspapers in the country. Harvard-Westlake is one of just three schools in the U.S. this year to win the Hybrid Gold Crown from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, along with both Print and Online Pacemakers from the National Scholastic Press Association.
“Awards are really indicative of consistent hard work over the course of the year,” Wantz said. “For me personally, the awards were an indication that the [staff] is doing some of the best quality work in the nation.”
Wantz decided to leave due to her long daily commute, which took two to three hours per day.
She will return to teaching near her home in Ventura.
Wantz was well-respected by the Chronicle staff, the student journalists said.
“She was a great adviser who made her presence known in the newsroom, helped us revamp our website and ushered in a more media-focused mindset,” Editor-in-Chief Henry Vogel ’16 said.