The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

‘Observer’ writer reflects on her time in ‘The J’

Everything I need to know, I learned in Room 243.

I have been a part of this paper ever since I was a freshman and, let me tell you, I can’t think of a single force in my life that has been as influential or as beneficial. I owe so much of my personality and my happiness to this class. I don’t write this article as a plug. I write it as an act of charity. All I want to do is spread the gospel: Journalism is the only elective that has the ability to change your life.

I meandered into Mrs. Knarr’s J1 class on my first day of ninth grade as a shy, anxious and soft-spoken 13-year-old. Internally, I knew that I had a lot to say, but middle school had instilled in me the idea that my words weren’t welcome. I couldn’t raise my hand in class to ask questions. I couldn’t make friends outside of my quiet niche. I swore to myself that I could feel my classmates judging me even as I just passed them by in the hallways.

I joined Journalism because I loved to write. I found peace in the expanse of a blank page when I couldn’t find peace anywhere else. However, most of the people I know didn’t join Journalism for a nerdy reason like mine. Some joined because it was the only elective course they knew of that balanced real work with real fun. Some joined because they recognized that news-gathering and reporting are foundations our society can’t function without. Some joined because they really weren’t great at writing and knew that the class could whip them into shape.

Story continues below advertisement

It didn’t matter. Every single day of first semester, all of the J1s would skitter into Mrs. Knarr’s room ready to go. The first two quarters of journalism are what we like to call “Boot Camp,” which is much, much easier than its name implies. During Boot Camp, all the new mini-journalists learn the basic skills necessary to be effective reporters. They ace stylistic rules, study all the moral standards that journalists must hold themselves accountable to and watch Shattered Glass, one of those movies about human immorality so awful you can’t keep your eyes off the screen.

J1s can start writing for the newspaper by second semester. By the time that fated first day rolled around, I was convinced I was completely unprepared. I could barely talk to my own teachers. How could I be expected to just walk up to random people and ask them questions out of the blue?

But here’s what Journalism does. It makes it easy to approach people. The more you do it, the more you realize how truly unthreatening and human the people around you are. Simply the interviewing aspect of the paper can change socially-anxious teenagers into teenagers proud of who they are, teenagers who are fearless in who they approach and why. Journalism made it so much easier for me to connect with people, make new friends and own my own skin.

Beyond this comes the less icky-cheesy stuff. Here’s something that anybody who’s ever been in the job market for 10 seconds has told me: no matter what you do with your life, you are going to have to know how to write. No matter what you do, you’ve got to be able to articulate your thoughts onto a page in a way that is clear and concise. Without this vital skill, climbing the ranks in any field becomes difficult: How is anybody supposed to know how smart you are if you can’t explain your ideas to them?

Anybody who’s been in Journalism for even one month can tell you that writing an article every month improves your writing skills tenfold. In Journalism, you quickly—and almost subconsciously—learn the importance of word choice in conveying facts correctly. You learn “less is more.” Journalism takes a daunting task—writing—and makes it almost into an almost secondhand nature.

The Journalism staff is a machine. We all need to fulfill our role in the assembly line: the writers, the editors, the production editors and the adviser (Mrs. Knarr, the loveliest lady in the world) all need to do their work quickly and on time. Being a part of this machine teaches you what it feels like to have other people depending on you, making you a more effective team player.

Not only do you learn how to work with others, but you also become a part of a tight-knit community. There’s no feeling like it. The friends you make through Journalism are closer than those you make in any other class because you feel a sense of oneness and connection that other electives just can’t provide. It helps you to step outside of your niche as well, because most of the time, the people you meet in Journalism aren’t from your core group of friends. By the end of your time in Journalism, you will find yourself close with people you ever would have imagined yourself being close with.

Journalism appeals to almost every type of student. Shy students can come here to find their voice. Outspoken students can come here to find an outlet for their opinions and charisma. Students who love sports can come and support CHS athletics by writing articles detailing the behind-the-scenes tales of heroism that take place every day on the field. Students who love music can come and write articles about their favorite band’s newest album.

Journalism is for students who love to learn, love to challenge themselves and love to open their eyes to the world around them.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
‘Observer’ writer reflects on her time in ‘The J’