Before I say goodbye, you must first understand what I am feeling. I feel frozen. Time treads on with a painful grogginess as I approach my last few days of high school. Yet, even so, I feel as if I have run out of time. As cliché as it may sound, my last four years of high school felt like they slipped through my fingers. They were a dizzying blur of AP exams, Teams meetings, and toilet paper shortages. So now, I’m in a limbo between here and there. I can sense the infectious eagerness and apprehension around me as the class of 2022 gets ready for the next phase into adulthood. The class must wave goodbye like hundreds of other senior classes before it, the only difference is that now, we are the ones who are leaving. So, as I say goodbye, I wanted to speak to you and thank you. This letter is my homage to all of us.
Extending My Gratitude
Warning: Sappy writing ahead.
My journey as a high school journalist began as a Yearbook staff writer, so I would like to thank my Yearbook advisers, Mrs. Trainer and Mrs. White, for their guidance. Mrs. Trainer, thank you for taking the time to answer my incessant questions about captions and photos when I was a freshman. And Mrs. White, thank you for guiding us in Mrs. Trainer’s absence. It is in Yearbook that I grew to appreciate photojournalism and collaboration in writing, which helps me even now as the Production Manager and Copy Editor of The Forecast.
From The Forecast, I would like to thank my fellow reporters, the journalists who write for this wonderful newspaper. I felt honored to be the one to read your articles and critique them, just like I felt humbled to have my work reviewed by you. I also extend my sincerest gratitude to Mr. Allen, the adviser of The Forecast. Thank you for your mentorship and encouragement, Mr. Allen. Our team wouldn’t be the same without you. You help us evolve both as writers and people.
Finally, I would like to thank all of our readers. Your ongoing support emboldens us to continue writing. It is my hope that the articles we have written have informed you, given you a voice, and even made you smile.
Throughout my time at The Forecast, I have authored eight articles and contributed to three others. So, it is difficult to pick a favorite. Nonetheless, I finally have.
I’m happy to see that my articles are pretty diverse in terms of topics. I’ve written a movie review, discussed the history of our school, and even denounced a lack of cultural awareness. Perhaps my favorite article to research and photograph was my piece on the bus driver strike that plagued our county back in October. For that article, I had the privilege of interviewing one of the owners of the Downs & Downs bus contracting company, Mrs. Bowie Downs. That interview was perhaps the longest I’ve ever conducted, spanning almost an hour, but allowing me to provide an in-depth examination of the issue. The real challenge came when it was time to take photographs.
It stands to reason that an article about bus drivers would include photos of buses. However, when it was time to photograph the modes of transportation, I was tasked with capturing images while there was an ongoing bus evacuation drill. So, it was chaotic, to say the least. Worse yet, when I asked for permission to photograph the event, the drill supervisor agreed, but only if I took part in the drill myself. So, each of the photos included in that article was taken after I jumped off of the back door of a bus. As soon as my heels thudded against the pavement, I had to spin around and position my camera at the perfect angle. I was worried about the quality of my photos since everything was happening so quickly. Yet in the end, those photos were some of my favorites this year.
Another notable mention among my articles is my review of Encanto. I thoroughly enjoyed giving a movie review such an unusual spin by embedding some of my cultural heritage and perspective as a Latina writer. However, neither my article on the bus driver strike, nor my review of Encanto are my favorites. Rather, Does HHS Overlook Black History Month? is my top pick. I’m not claiming that that article is perfect, nor do I think it was my strongest. Instead, what makes it dearest to me is that it had a tangible impact on our community. I noticed a disparity in our school, a lack of willingness to celebrate diversity. So, being lucky enough to have a platform on which to publish my writing, I brought it to light, and thankfully, some teachers listened. I started seeing posters in the hallways and displays on bulletin boards celebrating the accomplishments of Black Americans. Although I am not African American, these small changes put a beaming smile on my face. They are a testament to the fact that what we write matters.
My Hope for What is to Come
Before I leave, I’d like to address an issue that has always bothered me: journalism’s unfavorable reputation. I’ve had countless people tell me that they hate reading/watching the news. They reject journalism because of its bias, lack of accuracy, and even sensationalism. Although these are valid issues, they cannot be used to discredit the entirety of a field that is so vast in scope. There are journalists out there who write earnestly to inform and evoke laughter. My time with The Forecast is just a small example of this. Writing can be used to advocate for cultural representation or even crisis relief in war zones, like we did for our Ukraine Issue. Journalism is thus a way to capture the human experience. So, I hope people will become more open-minded towards it. It is my wish that future Huntingtown High journalists write with pride and devotion, continuing this legacy, which strives to give a voice to the community.
“If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” – Mark Twain