Journalism Electrifies the High School Experience

Journalism plays a key role in life at school.


Anna Woodward, Staff Writer

Editor’s note: This story was written for the FSPA on-the-spot newspaper team contest. The FSPA State Convention was held from April 11-13 in Orlando, Fla.

The Florida Scholastic Press Association welcomed a record number of students this year: 1,400. This weekend, these students from all over the state came together to utilize and better their journalistic skills. Despite coming from different schools and even different methods of journalism (broadcast, newspaper, yearbook, etc.), all of these participants have something in common: being in journalism has shaped their school experience.

For Abbie Tuschman, a junior at Cooper City High School, journalism has allowed her to become more involved at her school. Tuschman took Journalism 1 her freshman year and joined the newspaper staff her sophomore year. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of her school’s online paper, The Lariat.

“I’m an introvert, so I’m not super involved in school but being in newspaper has made me involved in the role of the observer,” Tuschman said. “I get to document what’s going on and be involved in that way, without actually being in the midst of things, so I get to have a unique high school experience.”

Not only has journalism provided a direct impact on Tuschman’s involvement at school, it’s given her a new perspective towards her peers. Being in journalism and getting to interview people has given Tuschman the opportunity to hear new opinions.

“Something that’s really stuck out to me is getting student opinions on current events going around, because typically, you don’t hear teenagers discussing foreign policy, but they actually do have opinions on that and when you write stories about it you get to see a different side of your peers,” Tuschman said. “You get to witness them becoming citizens of your city, or their nation or even the world by making these opinions, so I guess you get to get a different perspective on the people you’re surrounded by every day.”

Connecting with peers through journalism is the way that Emily Colon, a senior at Astronaut High School, saw a change in her high school experience. Colon has been in the journalism program for three years and enjoys people seeing what she’s written.

“Knowing that people would read my stories [and think they’re] really interesting, I never thought in high school there was a journalism class or anything like that, so I thought that was really interesting,” Colon said.

Even those who haven’t been in journalism for a while have seen the impact that the program has had on their experience. Journalism allows for people to improve their writing skills and truly practice those skills in a variety of subjects, from news to opinion. Aleksandra Masiulis, an eighth grader at Pine View School, joined journalism this year and says that being in journalism has increased her confidence as a writer.

“I just wrote a paper on the gifted education bill that the Trump Administration is trying to cut, and several of my upperclassmen told me that it was well written, which really increased my confidence,” Masiulis said.

Journalism can shape a student’s experience through its impact on the community. For Paulina Guajardo, a freshman at Gulliver Preparatory Academy, this impact made an impression on her career in student journalism. When a student at her school passed away, Guajardo wrote a story that reflected the importance of her community coming together in a hard time.

“I wrote a story about it and we all contributed and were very caring towards the family and everything, and that was really an important thing,” Guajardo said.

Using her position as a journalist, Guajardo was able to give a different type of aid to the community in the form of this story.

“In journalism I took more action to it and I was able to write a story about it, but if I hadn’t been in journalism I wouldn’t have taken the time to do all that,” Guajardo said.

Those who are in journalism-centered programs also are shaped by their work through the direct impact that it has on them every day.

Sabrina Martinez, a junior at Doral Academy, took her love for photography and used it to improve her journalistic skills. Martinez is in a program that focuses on performing arts photography and has been involved in journalism since the ninth grade. She loves the story that a photo can convey in a single frame and loves telling a story through her work.

“It’s helped me better my photography but especially journalism because we focused on covering all events,” Martinez said.

The same goes for Collin Aull, a sophomore at Blake High School. Aull is a film major at Blake, whose arts magnet program gives students the opportunity to focus their studies on a variety of subjects including creative writing and film. Like many journalists, Aull has acquired new skills through participating in journalism.

“It definitely teaches you to be more professional with people and how to talk to people…you just have to be polite and [journalism] helps you learn that,” Aull said.

Through the program, he’s had the opportunity to see journalism from behind the scenes, something that is essential to creating any sort of work in the field of journalism.

“There’s been some school events where instead of being a part of it we were someone who was filming it or reporting on it…sometimes you wish you could be enjoying it, but it’s equally as fun and interesting to document it,” Aull said.

Scholastic journalism has had an impact on every teen involved in one way or another. Besides teaching students how to better write and take photos, it gives people the opportunity to better connect with their school and their peers. Not only do all of the students at FSPA have a common passion, they have common experiences: learning these lessons through journalism will have a lasting impact as those involved further their school experience and their experience in the profession of journalism.

“Writing news stories or any articles for that matter has made me realize how influential words can be, so it’s made me view the media with a different lenses, so I can see how reporters are using their words to possibly influence people without even meaning it,” Tuschman said. “It also makes me value the world and the coverage of it even more because I have a new appreciation for how much work it takes and how little appreciation reporters get day to day throughout the world.”