Skills found in high school

I can still remember the day I fell in love with journalism.

I was sitting on my bed, nervously staring at the phone – pen in hand, notebook on my lap. I had the phone number memorized by now. I had dialed it and hung up so many times I lost count.

But I couldn’t bring myself to make the call, couldn’t muster up enough courage to ask the questions, couldn’t find the words I needed.

My high school athletic director had turned in his resignation that day, and I wanted the story. I wanted to taste hard news…or at least as hard as news gets when you’re 17.

He answered, we talked and I wrote the story that changed my life forever – it wasn’t even that bad.

Some people don’t see the value of high school journalism, of yearbooks and newspapers, of stories and articles.

In fact, high schools all over the country are considering eliminating these programs to save money, to make ends meet.

While the notion of this concerns the junior mass media major that I now am, it’s the nervous 17-year-old I once was that I feel sorry for.

Seek Truth and Report It<em> Seek Truth and Report It</em> Seek Truth and Report It

The name of my high school newspaper was The Optimist.

But we were anything but optimistic, upbeat, idealistic. We were truthful, frank and sincere. We considered ourselves to be watchdogs, protectors. We were the defenders of free speech, of press.

We were, for lack of a better word, journalists. And that meant the world to us, to our cause.

Minimize Harm<em>Minimize Harm</em> Minimize Harm

In the midst of the resignation, the rumors, the lies, the stares, were my high school athletic director’s children.

He had three of them within our school district, and each one of them carried a different weight following their father’s resignation, following the controversy of it all.

As a newspaper staff, we decided to address that, to be conscious of that.

Act Independently<em>Act Independently</em> Act Independently

My high school principal never censored us, never told us not to run something, not to print an article.

But even if he had, I’m not so sure it would have stopped us, would have prevented us from producing something we were proud of.

In our minds, we were independent, self-governing, we were free. We believed in our cause and we were willing to stand up for ourselves, for our beliefs.

Be Accountable<em>Be Accountable</em> Be Accountable

We weren’t perfect.

At times, we were careless, inattentive, sloppy even. But we were built to admit that, to reprint articles, to make corrections. We were created to make mistakes and to correct them. And believe me, we misspelled plenty of names, mislabeled numerous photos, we probably even printed some pretty inaccurate nonsense every once in awhile.

But we were learning, growing, challenging ourselves and those around us to become better, to work harder, to fight for something that mattered.

Most of what I know about journalism, about freedom of speech and the power of the press didn’t come from college. Rather, most of what I know about journalism, about telling stories and providing a voice to the voiceless, came from my high school journalism class.

And I can’t imagine not having that experience to build off of.

And because of that, I can't imagine why any high school in the country would be willing to sacrifice the lessons I learned to save money, to make ends meet. <br/>