The Gift of Journalism

The Jetstream Journal's 2018-2019 class went on a field trip to

The Jetstream Journal’s 2018-2019 class went on a field trip to “review” (enjoy the food) at Il Vicino’s, eat some candy at Rocket Fizz and visit the UCCS Art Museum exhibit on May 1st, 2019. It was awesome.

So.

High school.

It’s really almost over for seniors like me, huh?

I spent the last three years of it doing journalism. I started out as an ordinary reporter and grew to copy editor and finally, this year, to managing editor.

Was it worth it? Was The Jetstream Journal worth it? Has high school been worth it? Most importantly, should you take a chance on journalism?

Well…Yes, you should, but here’s why:

Before The Jetstream Journal, I was a writer/formatter for my last high school’s publication at Lemoore Middle College High School in California, The Panther Post, which only published (on paper) twice a semester. The school had a total of 200 students. It was small, informal, and most of all, it never pushed me out of my comfort zone. In fact, I only joined journalism in the first place because my friends were in it.

Compared to that, moving to Air Academy in Colorado halfway through my sophomore year, a school not only featuring a population of over 1,000 students but also a newspaper that publishes bimonthly online, was…terrifying.

On my first day in AAHS journalism, I sat in a classroom of strangers who knew way more than I did about a writing style I’d never really practiced on a website I’d never even heard of using before; I was more lost getting interviews and following the style guide than walking through D building during passing period (which is saying something, because I once got lost standing right outside one of my classes on the first day).

I was way, way out of my comfort zone.

The learning curve was steep, but the other journalists helped me along with patience and kindness. Pitch meetings (“pitching” stories for issues to publish), editing days (where editors read over your stories and make suggestions about content and style), and publishing (the best days, where we were able to look over the stories we sent out for the world to see and eat pancakes) all went by in a flurry of education, practice and fun.

Even though I was a fish out of water at first, that awkward starting semester at AAHS my sophomore year was bearable because of those funny moments in the publication classroom.

Then, the 2018-19 school year’s managing editor, former student (and absolute rock star) Kaitlyn Waynick, made me a copy editor for my junior year, and for the first time in my life I was expected to be a consistent, helpful leader who knew what she was doing. Journalism is, by and large, a student-led endeavor, so I truly had to be on top of my game as editor.

From fixing grammar mistakes (and going crazy over them–periods inside quotation marks, please!) and trying to help brand-new journalists troubleshoot problems I barely knew how to fix myself all while continuing to write my own stories, it was a long, exhaustive year of faking my way through way too many issues to count. Almost by chance, I gained experience teaching and leading in an environment I otherwise would never have encountered.

Still, though, journalism was my outlet. I loved it. I still love it.

This year, I graduated to managing editor, the official head student leading journalism.

It has been…interesting. Once again, I was out of my comfort zone, and it’s taken nearly the entire year to get used to being in charge.

To be honest, I still have no idea what I’m doing (do any of us?). But I’ve handled pitch meetings, editing days, announcements, leading classes, working with the class advisor and AP/Honors Senior Literature teacher Mary Anderson (she’s a genuine inspiration to me and many other students) and, for the most part, I’ve done it pretty well. The independence and ability to problem-solve this class requires has forced me to become a much more organized and capable person.

But I couldn’t have done it alone. Fellow seniors Parmida Mahdavi, Casey Hogan and Kailey Baldwin have helped me tremendously as copy editors (and in Mahdavi’s case, marketing manager). Plus, every journalist in this class has been amazing, intelligent, compassionate and hardworking through the entire year. They helped me just as much (if not more than) I’ve helped them. They taught me how to collaborate just as much as how to lead.

I’m so thankful to every one of my classmates, past and present, for being in The Jetstream Journal. I don’t know if I can ever express how much they’ve meant to me.

Obviously, though, journalism wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. At times, I still wonder how I survived writing 500+ word articles every two weeks for almost three years (it gets exhausting after a while even if it is really fun) and spending a more-than-healthy number of hours staring at my computer screen editing stories, but it’s been 110% worth the effort, especially for what it’s given me.

And it’s given me a lot: friends, memories, purpose, happiness, pancake days(!!!!) and especially confidence–not only in my writing, but in myself.

That’s truly been the best part about The Jetstream Journal. By putting a part of me out into the world for people to see, I began to realize that my work had more value than I first realized.  For the longest time, I didn’t really see myself as a particularly impressive person. I’ve always been okay at writing, math, science and history, but when I joined journalism, I found something I was actually proud of instead of being merely okay with. By extension, I began to be proud of myself as a person.

The sense of accomplishment and of genuine happiness I felt when I published an article, a snapshot and especially an entire issue of work I and my fellow journalists had spent so many hours on has been, undeniably, the greatest thing about The Jetstream Journal.

So to answer my questions at the beginning:

Yes.

Journalism has been worth the blood, sweat and (sometimes literal) tears I’ve put into it. By extension, it’s made high school as a whole worthwhile.

(And yes, you should definitely sign up for it if you want an experience like mine. It’s awesome!)

I found something that sparked my passion for learning and set a fire under me to keep my spirits up for three years straight. I love journalism so much. It’s become a home away from home, my heart and soul, my inspiration to keep going even when I didn’t know if I could. It’s given me countless gifts and experiences that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

And soon, when I leave The Jetstream Journal nest and spread my wings to fly off to new horizons, I can go confidently, happily and freely with all the gifts that journalism gave me.