Never would I have guessed that joining Journalism my freshman year would be one of the most shaping moments of my high school career. My neighbor, Emily Jo Pahl, had suggested that I join the class, as she was Executive Editor and I was just an eighth grader who enjoyed writing. Now, four years later, I find myself designing centerspreads and writing columns, just as the people who I admired once did. It’s a bittersweet feeling, realizing that through the process of learning to write stylistically, edit and design pages, you eventually learn how to create a paper with the help of your peers (and brilliant teacher, who has supported me during my best and worse times, Mrs. Brenda Smith).
Journalism has opened up a world full of new concepts for me, including a unique dimension of design techniques, conveying school voice and storytelling. Numerous interviews have showed me the power of conversation and being able to accurately convey opinions, emotions and actions into words. As students grow older, the need for appropriate communication skills only seem to intensify, and as a young adult, I’m able to say that being a part of a publication most definitely sharpened my writing and interpersonal relationships.
Not only have my English skills developed tremendously, but through this class, I was able to meet so many new people of all different personalities who share the same creativity as I do. Last summer, I was lucky enough to have stayed at a journalism camp for two weeks at Eastern Illinois University where I was working on stories with fellow Illinois journalists, and this is arguably one of the best experiences I had in high school. In addition, I met many student leaders while I was just beginning who would mentor me and help me develop my stories (and met the Grammar Queen, Rebecca Watters).
Although all of these were excellent experiences to have, I believe the best thing that came about Journalism was the staff that I was a part of this year. I was a bit nervous to say the least that all of my seniors that I looked up to in the past were gone, and that ultimately it would be Connor, Ashley and I guiding the paper. However, since our Journalism conference back in October, I truly believe that all of us have grown tremendously as writers, editors, and a family. I’m so incredibly thankful to have been a part of this production; I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else.
To all of the journalism students continuing next year: cherish the years on staff and never stop improving. I’m grateful to have had such talented first year writers to work with and I can only imagine the accomplishments all of you will achieve in the coming years. Your dedication and hard work is greatly appreciated.