Quill & Scroll Seniors Reflect on How Journalism has Impacted Them and Their Communities
For the last three years, I have been a part of Tompkins’ newspaper The Nest and website Nestline. Being a writer has enabled me to keep students, teachers and people in the Katy community aware of what has, is and will happen. My role as a staff writer was to interview, create and write articles that featured people, clubs, and events, entertained and even dealt with controversial topics. My content was crafted with the intention of getting the reader’s attention and hopefully sparking some desire in them to be a part of the community more. As a managing editor, I not only wrote, but revised and edited other’s work. I was exposed to different writing styles that diversified my own and gave me new perspectives to consider and challenge. My experience as a staff writer and managing editor prepared me to take on the role of editor in-chief. I approached this new position by simply being open to ideas and questions, and lending a hand. Newspaper as a whole benefitted me as an individual by giving me confidence in my writing and leadership abilities. The Nest and Nestline’s shared responsibility is to keep the reader informed and promote spirit throughout the school and community, and I believe that every issue successfully did that. Journalism confronts people with a reality they may or may not want to accept, provides new perspectives people may have never considered before, informs and entertains. It makes people question and seek answers, debate and inspires. Journalism affects each individual differently, but it still makes an impact on people’s daily lives. This experience has been one of a kind.
Journalism and being on the yearbook staff has been a cornerstone of my high school career. Putting the events of the year into words creates a record for anyone to look back on. Through victory, defeat, or draw there is direct evidence of what it takes to get through a year. Some people are not aware of something happening until they see it in the yearbook or magazine and learn new things about their classmates. Putting our year into one book of words and photos is a responsibility I am glad to take on. Throughout my four years, we have been able to cover floods and the destruction of the city we love, as well as state titles and an occasional snow. Each and every photo, caption, and story mean something and put together the pieces to make a great year.
It has been an amazing experience to be an Editor in Chief this year as well as a Managing Editor last year and be able to help my classmates create an amazing book. It brings me so much joy at the end of the year to open the cases of books and finally have a finished product. After spending many afternoons in Cypher’s room going over every word and pixel on every page it is so euphoric to see it all printed at once. While everyone else looks at it as just a keepsake, I see it as a culmination of a year of hard work. I know each page like the back of my hand and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Twenty years from now everyone that buys a book will be able to look back at the three books I have written, designed, or edited and reminisce about all the crazy times we had at OTHS. When we hand them out in May, everyone flips through them, fills them with signatures, and then puts them on a shelf, but someday when they have kids of their own and want to share what their high school experience was like, they will have my book to show. The lasting memories we preserve will serve to remind us all that we were once a silly kid in high school with dreams of the future and no exact way to get there, but we did it together.
From my first day as a publications student my sophomore year, I have been able to have a hand in the formation and creation of imperative information that will impact not only students in Tompkins but also individuals in the community. This unique position has allowed me to dive deeper into the mechanisms of the school and community, and ultimately learn about aspects of both areas that I can then use to craft a thorough article providing the reader with new knowledge.
This responsibility has allowed me to serve the students and staff at Tompkins High School as I have had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from outrageous student ability to common student issues. Through my various and ranging topics, I have been able to expose the unknown strengths of both students and the community, illuminating not only Tompkins as a unique place, but Katy as well. My time in journalism has allowed me to shed light on the unique aspects of the community we live in and inform others of events of circumstances that people may have been unaware of. Informing others in an engaging way has benefited the growth of Tompkins as one entity by finding and relaying the academic and extracurricular achievements that distinguish Tompkins from other schools. Uniting the community through involving events in the Katy area has also allowed for me to impact the atmosphere of the place where I live for the better.
Having the ability for my writing and perspective to benefit the reader would never have occurred if it were not for the journalism program. I have the opportunity to influence Tompkins students, and beyond that, the community where simple facts or the wording of a statement could ignite a fire for change within someone. Journalism is a powerful and trusted source of information that can negatively or positively impact the way that a person thinks about a subject, therefore my role as a journalist is to provide all of the information necessary for the reader to make a judgement and act upon it. Once people read something new their behavior and thoughts change in response to it, revealing its powerful role in sparking new perspectives and ideas that could ultimately change the world.
Even as my passions have changed throughout life, two my most constant ones have been writing and sharing knowledge with others, illuminating them. Considering this, I suppose it was only natural that I became interested in journalism. One of the great things we as journalists are able to do is spread information, expanding the readers’ view of their community and the world. Knowledge is power, as the old adage goes. And that’s what I love most about journalism—it gives us the power to empower others.
As a yearbook staff member, I received the unique opportunity to chronicle the school year and create something that my fellow students will be able to look back at years later and find fond memories. The effort we put in to create a book that is both aesthetically pleasing and informational is truly worth it when we see the happiness of our classmates as they flip through the book. During my senior year, I was advertising manager, a position I loved because I was able to utilize my graphic design skills in a way that helped parents give their children a tangible reminder of how much they loved them and how proud they were.
We serve others in many different ways, whether it be through giving our time, skills or material goods. I have loved being a part of the journalism program these past four years—the friendships I have made, the skills I have learned, and, above all, the ways I’ve been able to help my fellow students.
Journalism has been an active part of my high school life, and I believe it has truly served and bettered my school and community in multiple ways. I first took a journalism course during sophomore year. I have since become a writer and editor for my school’s newsmagazine, The Nest.
Writing for The Nest and, for a year, The Nestline online news was a great experience. It helped me not only become a good writer, but become a good storyteller. Through journalism I was able to serve my school by spreading news and assorted topics to the student body, allowing them to stay up-to-date on the happenings at school and better feel engaged with what is going on around them. Through The Nest and The Nestline, I also was able to serve and better the Katy community at large by being in touch with different outlets, such as local shops and restaurants. This helped businesses in the community receive more attention and feel more acquainted in the Katy area.
Another such way that I served and bettered my school and community was when I was a volunteer writer for a Katy-based news blog by Whitman Realtors.
The blog itself consisted of multiple high school writers from around the Katy ISD area. I was proud to be a part of the volunteer writer staff, where I was able to submit difference news pieces and features about the Katy or greater Houston area. Some of these articles included topics like “Best Fourth of July Activities in Houston” and “What to know about the Katy Spring and Garden Show”.
By writing for the blog in my spare time, I served my community and made an effort of keep Katy and Houston residents in touch with their society. There are so many incredible venues and activities that happen in South Texas, and I wanted to make it my job to spread the word as best as I could. My school is only part of the community: it is about both spreading news content and impacting their day. My volunteer journalism with the Katy-based blog was able to fulfill these things.
My job is to connect a reader with new information that they may learn from or use in life, whether it be about what new restaurant to try or about the latest school bill update. The journalism that I take part of affects the people around me in multiple ways as they not only gain more information and insight with whatever news or features I write, but also in how it brings people together with each other and the community.
I had originally joined Journalism because of my sister, but instantly fell in love with all of the aspects to it. Making the yearbook is a lot harder than you would think. There is a lot of effort put into the pages including: following the rules of proper attribution, conducting in-depth interviews with follow ups, and crafting a creative piece that goes with the theme. Practice makes perfect and the more you create and write, the better you get at it. Not only is Yearbook solely about the writing and being creative, it’s also about getting involved. Not every student is into sports or possesses musical talent, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t get involved with their school. Joining the yearbook staff gets students involved on all levels: from mingling with students, to attending school events, and actively participating in something that benefits the entire school body. Students benefit from yearbooks just as much as the schools do in creating a positive school spirit.
Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. A yearbook staff is never short on deadlines. Even though they sound stressful, deadlines can be very beneficial in helping students learn skills that they will use through school, college, and the rest of their lives. Time management, prioritizing, reliability, and the responsibility of following through on tasks when others are depending on you are just the tip of the iceberg of skills that students learn when working on a yearbook. Along with hard work comes creative experiences. Putting together a yearbook from start to finish is full of tasks that get the creative juices flowing: photography, Photoshopping, page layouts, yearbook themes, and design ideas. It’s very rewarding for students to have the physical proof to show for all of that hard work they put in over the course of the year. When anyone first starts a project, it’s easy to get lost in all of the details, but being able to look back at the end and see your creation is a great feeling that gives students a strong sense of pride.
With that being said, Journalism is not only important to me and the students who take the class, but also the community. News reports are the sole source of information to us most of the time. If it had not been for the constant presence of the media all of the time in every place, we would never get to know about events occurring in different parts of the world. Journalism is different from reporting, so journalists attempt to follow up a story and uncover new details, and keeps the public informed about the same. A powerful piece of journalistic writing can influence the common people in a way nothing else can. A journalistic report is not an opinion piece, but it certainly provides insights into a matter that is informed, educated, and highly analytical. Thus, the information present in the piece can strongly act toward shaping popular public opinion.
Overall, Yearbook has helped me become a better writer, photographer, facilitator, and person. To anyone who might consider being a part of a yearbook staff, I would highly recommend it. The skills learned through the class or club can be transferred to most fields of study once you graduate. Oh, and the memories you make will stay with you forever. Once a yerd, always a yerd (Yearbook + nerd = yerd).
I have been in journalism at Tompkins High School for four years and during this time I have moved up in the ranks to ultimately be co-editor in chief of the yearbook. As a freshman, I had no idea what impact my work would have on the community. I understood that I was making a memento that hundreds of people would keep with them for the rest of their lives, but the magnitude of the content that I would be able to encapsulate. Over the years, we have been able to cover hurricanes, floods, and the rare snow in Texas. As a journalist, these events are the ones that have a lasting impact on people’s lives so it is important to document them. I have served my community through my work on the yearbook staff over the last four years of high school, and I think it has been mutually beneficial, making me a better person in a better community.