On the first day of high school, I tripped walking up the front sidewalk.
It wasn’t a flat-on-your-face trip that you laugh about with your peers as they help you up. It was a discreet, didn’t-see-that-curb-there kind of trip that only took a moment to recover from. Or so I thought.
Aside from embarrassing myself in front of the cheerleaders who were greeting the freshmen, my tiny blunder actually set a standard for what was to come throughout high school.
The next time I “tripped” was a year later when I found myself in a class called Beginning Journalism, an experience which would define the rest of my high school career. When teacher Kathy Habiger asked me to join the newspaper staff, I unknowingly began a headlong plunge into the best accident that could have ever befallen me. I cannot spend enough time thanking the people who have put up with my fumbles, or helped me up off the ground to make me a better journalist. Journalism is by far the best tumble I have ever taken, and if I remember anything from my time here, it will be the lessons I learned in C-101.
I’ve lost my footing several other times too, with less graceful results. I let myself get frustrated, tired and stressed much too often. I tried too hard to go full steam ahead, which often led to my biggest blunders. Had I moved a little slower, I would’ve seen many obstacles before I stumbled into them head-on. Some of them I would have been able to walk peacefully around. Sometimes, though, I needed to lose my balance. Sometimes it made me a better person.
These past four years have been characterized by my missteps. I won’t look back and remember when everything was going smoothly, but when I was flung out of my comfort zone and forced to grow as a person. As for tripping on that first day of school freshman year, I would like my last comment to go to the cheerleader that giggled at my discomfort and said, “Well, that’s awkward.”
You’re right. It was. And it was totally worth it.
This is the last week of newspaper, and therefore the last week that we will be editors-in-chief. We decided to dedicate our last blog to saying goodbye and reminiscing on memories from the year.
Throughout this year, there have been a couple of times where I have either had to write or talk about the impact being on the newspaper staff has had on my life. On each of those occasions, I thought about how impossible a task it is to describe everything that has come to be important to me in high school in merely a page or two. I first joined the newspaper staff because I liked to write. It was pretty simple. However, when I reflect back on my journalism experiences now, I can pinpoint specific moments when my journalism involvement altered some aspect of my life. I first felt myself gain independence when I went to Washington D.C. my sophomore year and I first did something truly spontaneous (at least for me) when I jumped in a fountain in the middle of the night with my staff at the first journalism camp I went to. There were other moments, too, when I felt myself age years when articles I or my staff members wrote prompted unexpected reaction. Most importantly, journalism made me recognize the good in people. Often times journalists see people in their most honest moments simply because they ask the questions no one else ever bothered to. I saw that kind of authenticity interviewing sources and I saw it too in the staff members who had never found a place they belonged before journalism.
Clearly I am biased, but I have long since decided that journalists are the best kind of people because they really care about others. Each and every one of the people on the journalism staff has made an impact on my life. I loved raving with a&e editor Austin Gillespie and web editor Kaitlin Rounds, saying awkward things to managing editor Sarah Fulton, driving around in the middle of nowhere with photographer Kelsey Floyd and yelling at and often laughing with the man cave row in class, to name a few memories. And to top off such an amazing staff, I couldn’t have asked for a better co-editor in Jill. Jill is such a strong, caring and talented person and she helped me become a stronger person this year. I don’t think any of you could ever imagine the joy you bring to my life. The tears will be rollin’ next week at our end of the year banquet! Thank you for the time of my life.
This has by far been the best year of high school that I have had in all of the four years I have been here, and if I could pin that on any one reason, it would be newspaper and being an editor-in-chief. It has been so great to manage a publication of so many passionate students and I enjoy being able to say that at one point, I was able to be a leader on this incredibly successful paper. I love Sarah, and there is no one I would have rather done this with than her. I am proud of the strides this paper has taken, and I am so proud of all of her success this year. I will never forget the ridiculous worknight conversations the staff had, the stressful situations we got ourselves into and being able to spend time with 30 awesome people for hours every week. Some of my favorite memories include making fun of Sarah with Austin Gillespie, or rapping to “The Show Goes On” with Jack Lopez. Teasing Austin “Gudez” Gude and Adam Henderson was always a joy and I loved getting to teach people about design and watching new designers make things they can be proud of. I would like to thank everyone on newspaper for making this a fantastic year, and I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things the returning members do next year.
Seeing as it’s the end of the year, our time learning lessons as editors-in-chief are over. However, just for old time’s sake:
Lesson 34 of being an editor-in-chief: Check.
In the fall, the newspaper staff spends a day selling ads to businesses and continues to try and sell ads throughout the year. The district pays for some of the newspaper publication costs, but the staff has to raise the rest of the funds. This year, the staff sold enough ads every issue to print a 20-page paper every month and this year’s senior issue will be 24 pages long.
While on staff, I have quickly learned to dread the words, “We’re going to have to cut this issue.” In the event that the staff couldn’t sell three pages of ads, editors would have to pick pages of the paper to “cut” or leave out of the issue. Now that we have the website, content that has been cut can still be published online. However, in the past, if your page was cut, it meant all of your hard work would go to waste. For the first time I can remember, our staff has sold enough ads to print a 20-page paper every month. Even more exciting, this month, we sold an additional full-page ad that will allow our staff to print a 24-page senior issue. I don’t want to reveal too much, but our staff is working to create a very unique issue. I am so excited that we have the opportunity to try new things with the paper this late in the year.
I am very excited that we have been able to have a 20-page issue every single time this year. Normally, at least the first issue can only be 17 pages long. Even then, there used to be times throughout the year that we would have to cut three pages because that issue didn’t happen to get enough advertisements. I think it is a testament to our staff that we worked hard to get 20 pages every issue this year, and I also think it helps our paper with its consistency, which I really enjoy. Cutting pages would have been very difficult this year since we have so many pages that stay the same every issue, like the map page or the flip side. Like Sarah, I am also super excited for our senior issue, because we have those extra pages to do something cool with. I think everyone will like what we came up with, and will be excited to see an all-new type of senior issue coming out. I am looking forward to seeing it all complete!
Lesson of the week:
1. Sometimes, the bigger the better as far as issues of the newspaper are concerned.
Lesson 33 of being an editor-in-chief: Check.
Journalism staffs attended the 2012 Journalism Educators of Metropolitan Kansas City awards ceremony at Johnson County Community College on Wednesday, April 25.
The awards are as follows:
The JagWire website, second place
The Jag yearbook, second place
Senior Sarah Darby, Opal Heatherly Writing Award for Seniors Scholarship and Michael Dunlap Excellence in Journalism Scholarship
Sophomore Jack Lopez, second place in Newspaper Critical Review
Senior Sarah Fulton, second place in Newspaper Editorial
Senior Jill Applegate, honorable mention in Newspaper Single-Page Design
Applegate and senior Adam Henderson, first place in Newspaper Infographic
Junior Hanna Torline, honorable mention in Newspaper Sports Story
Junior Miranda Snyder, honorable mention in Newspaper Sports Action
Junior Kelsey Floyd, first place in Newspaper News Photography
Snyder and senior Sarah Gonzales, third place in Newspaper Multimedia Online
Junior Ellen Bodine, honorable mention in Yearbook Clubs Design
Senior Allie Love, honorable mention in Yearbook Portrait Copy
Senior Carly Granato, third place in Yearbook Student Life design
Seniors Rachel Mills and Katherine Beck, first place in Yearbook Theme Presentation
Senior Lauren Shurley, honorable mention in Yearbook Overall Coverage in a Single Spread
Bodine, second place in Yearbook Sports Design
Mills, honorable mention in Headline Package Presentation
Granato, second place in Yearbook Activities Photography
Senior Austin Becker, second place in Yearbook Sports Reaction
The JagWire website and newspaper were also named All-Kansas by the Kansas Scholastic Press Association. The newspaper was one of six 5A papers in the state to be recognized and the website was one of two in the state to earn the honor. A total of 48 schools submitted publications and 22 earned the honor.
“We’ve had a strong showing at every competition we’ve been at this year. We have a lot of talented journalists and a lot of students who are passionate about journalism,” Darby said. “I’m so proud all of our hard work has paid off.”
It’s the time of the year when the staff earns awards through JEMKC (Journalism Educators of Metropolitan Kansas City) and the Kansas Scholastic Press Association. We have gotten many awards in the past week and are now looking forward to our state competition this coming Saturday, May 5.
At the JEMKC awards, individual staff members as well as our staff overall (our website took second place in the competition), won many awards. The contest recognizes Kansas City area entries and is always a blast to go to. The awards ceremony takes place at Johnson County Community College, and this year two schools brought mascots. Later this week, our staff also found out that both our newspaper and website were named All-Kansas. An All-Kansas designation for a publication is the highest honor that can be earned in the state. A total of 48 schools submitted publications for the contest and 22 schools received the designation. Our newspaper was one of six newspapers in the 5A category to earn the award. Even more exciting for me, was being named All-Kansas for our website. A total of 16 schools submitted their site and only two websites, including JagWire News Online, were named All-Kansas. I am constantly proud of how amazing it is to receive an award like that given that this is only the second year we have had the website. I can’t think of a better place, staff or adviser to learn journalism at and with. It has been an awesome year.
I am so happy to see that we got an All-Kansas award for both our newspaper and our website. It just reinforces all of the hard work that we have put in this year. At the JEMKC awards, our staff did an amazing job and racked up awards for design, writing and photography. Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in the scheme of things that we don’t realize just how great our staff is in the bigger picture. I think it is fun to see how we stack up to our local competition and show how great we have been doing all year long. When I first became editor-in-chief, I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to help keep the staff and the paper to the same standards that we have held ourselves too in previous years. I now see that I shouldn’t have even worried because we have such driven and motivated people on our staff that are winning awards from all over the metropolitan area. I can’t wait to see how this tradition continues next year and to see what all these amazing staff members do next.
Lesson of the week:
1. Our staff rocks.
Lesson 32 of being an editor-in-chief: Check.
Every year, returning staff members spend one to two class periods reviewing applications turned in by students wanting to join the newspaper staff. Seniors are not involved in the decision making process, as they will not make up the staff next year.
One of my favorite days of the year in the past has been picking news staff members. I have been involved in the process the last two years and it seems strange now to not be involved in picking a new staff. Returning staff members spent two class periods last week choosing new members. One of the things I have enjoyed most about being on the newspaper staff for three years has been how the class is run by students in many ways. The process of picking staff members is a prime example of the amount of say students have in the making decisions for the staff. While adviser Kathy Habiger explained the staff decision process to the staff members last week, she was not present in the room where the students actually made the decision. Students have the final say in picking their staff. Students evaluate writing and photography samples along with teacher recommendations to pick staff members. Last year, our staff decided to accept a larger number of applicants than we had in the past. We ended up with a total of 30 staff members, the most in our newspaper’s history. That was completely a student decision. When I got the letter telling me I had been accepted onto the newspaper staff as a freshman, I couldn’t have been happier. I hope the new staff members, who will be notified this week, will enjoy their time on staff as much as I have.
It was so weird having the staff members pick the new people for next year’s staff and not being a part of the process. It is the first of many reminders that newspaper will go on even without Sarah and I here, which is weird to think about. It is also fun to see my underclassmen friends, which I have helped over the years, move on to teach other people. Newspaper is a constant cycle and it takes a real dedication from new and old staff members to keep it up to standard year after year. The staff next year I believe will be smaller than the staff is this year, and it will be so interesting to come back and see how things are continuing even when I’m not a part of it. I know everyone who is a part of staff will make next year’s paper even better than it is this year, and I can’t wait to see the results.
Lesson of the week:
1. While being an editor-in-chief is fun, it’s almost time for it to come to an end.
Lesson 31 of being an editor-in-chief: Check.
This past weekend, some of our staff attended the JEA/NSPA National Convention in Seattle. During the convention, we came back with many awards including fourth place for Best of Show for the newspaper, 10th for special section and second for website. Editor-in-chief Sarah Darby also was named a JEA runner-up for National Journalist of the Year.
For the first time ever, our school placed in every Best of Show category it entered. In addition to the awards the newspaper won, the yearbook also placed fourth in its category. The Best of Show competition judges every publication entered at that specific convention. It is exciting to know that out of the hundreds of schools in attendance at the Seattle convention, our publications stood out. At the convention, we also officially received a plague for being an Online Pacemaker Finalist. Although our website did not win a Pacemaker at the convention, I was still ecstatic to be a finalist in only the second year of the website’s existence. Additionally, this weekend I found out I was named a runner-up for National High School Journalist of the Year. A total of 37 state winners competed in the national competition and I was one of six runner-ups. One additional student journalist was named the overall winner. Opportunities like the Seattle convention are constant reminders to me of how much I have been able to experience because of journalism. Journalism has truly defined my high school experience and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am so excited and proud of our staff for all of their hard work this year. It is exciting to watch it pay off, especially after last convention’s results where we didn’t place in nearly as many categories. I am also really happy that we placed at all in special section because that was kind of an experiment for our staff as we had never done anything like that before. It’s funny that we were able to figure out what category our newspaper should be in (tabloid) and that we were successful in that category after not placing last convention in newsmagazine. Sarah being a runner-up recipient makes me so proud of her, even though I already knew she would get something. She is definitely the most deserving high school journalist I know. Congratulations to our staff for all of their hard work this year. Even though we are on our last issue, I know that the returning staff will make next year’s newspaper something they can continue to be proud of.
Lesson of the week:
1. Hard work always pays off.
Lesson number 30 of being an editor-in-chief: Check.
Every issue deadline, the Newspaper has two “worknights” designed to help our staff complete the issue. The first worknight of the month lasts from 3-5 p.m. and then the following week on a Monday after the short worknight, we always have a “long” worknight which lasts from 3-9 p.m. Being in a room full of crazy journalists for that long inevitably leads to some funny memories.
Most of my memories involving worknights involve jokes about taking clothes off. The journalism room has 30 computers, all generating heat, and when the air conditioning turns off through out the school after 4 p.m., the room only gets hotter. Many staff members bring their worknight clothes, often bringing shorts and a tank top to change into even in the middle of winter. Even with staff dressed as appropriately as possible, the number of times I have heard people say they’re going to take their pants off or start singing “It’s getting so hot in here, I’m gonna take my clothes off,” are hard to count.
Another favorite memory of mine involves something we have called the quote pumpkin. The quote pumpkin is a plastic Halloween candy bucket that gets filed every year with funny quotes from our staff. The quote pumpkin is entertaining every day but on worknights, tons of quotes are added to the pumpkin. Here are a few of my (appropriate) favorites in the pumpkin right now:
“Children love me,” newspaper a&e editor Austin Gillespie
“AP style gold digger,” Gillespie
“The man cave is filthy,” newspaper reporter Sydney Wilson
“KRounds [Kaitlin Rounds], you sound like my diabetic cat when we don’t give it its meds,” newspaper managing editor Sarah Fulton
“Why are you wearing my jacket?” newspaper photographer Alec Santaularia
“Because I wanted to smell like a man,” newspaper ads manager Austin Gude
“I don’t hate this song, that would be like hating butterflies,” yearbook editor-in-chief Katherine Beck
“It would be funny if we threw out some random candy, like dental floss,” adviser Kathy Habiger on things to hand out off the newspaper Homecoming float
“Does anyone here have a phone charger?” Mama Flinn [newspaper reporter Alana Flinn’s mom]
Worknight is always a time when tensions run high, which consequentially makes everyone’s jokes that much funnier. Some of my favorite worknight memories involve Gillespie and I making fun of Sarah. He and I enjoy photoshopping funny pictures of Sarah and hanging them on the back wall. I, like Sarah, also enjoy the many jokes about people taking their clothing off. We have even talked about making shirts that say “Newspaper worknight: I took my pants off for this,” an idea that has, unfortunately, never come to fruition. Lastly, one of my favorite worknight memories in specific comes from not this year, but last year. Our adviser Kathy Habiger came running out of her office with photographer Taylor Young’s caption rough draft in her hand, screaming about how Taylor had decided to abbreviate March to Mar. Upon hearing this, then editor-in-chief Kaitlyn Butko began to promptly run around the room, changing every page’s folio from Mar. to March. What made if even better was the the song “We No Speak Americano” by Yolanda Be Cool was playing at the time, which provided the perfect setting for Kaitlyn to be scurrying around the room to fix her mistake.
Lesson of the week:
1. High stress situations can lead to some funny experiences.
Lesson 29 of being an editor-in-chief: Check.
Editors’ note: The intent of this article was to feature a growing trend in America that has made its way to Shawnee. The JagWire staff stands by its original decision to run the article, however, we regret any misunderstanding about the intent. According to the Center for Disease Control, smoking tobacco out of a hookah has been associated with cancers of many sorts, decreased lung function and decreased fertility. We hope that our readers will learn more about the dangers of hookah smoking here. Read more about the JagWire’s decision to run the article here.
The sound of Middle Eastern music fills the smoky room where people lounge on various chairs and couches. The visible smog in this Westport hookah bar, Sinbad’s Cafe & Hookah Lounge, and many others like it, is created by the customers who are smoking flavored tobacco out of multiple, multi-colored hookahs.
Hookah smoking, a practice that originated in ancient Persia and India, has gained popularity among youth in recent years. Sinbad’s owner Sami Mahmoude has his own theories about this heightened popularity.
“[For] young people, I think, it has become a Starbucks idea. In this age, you want to go hang out where there is no responsibilities. You want to kill time,” Mahmoude said. “This is something new.”
Hookah smoking becomes legal to do at bars or at home when the user turns 18, and allows for people 18 years or older to purchase hookah tobacco called shisha, a moist and sticky tobacco. When smoked in hookah bars, customers can then sit down with a small group and smoke the shisha out of a hookah provided by the bar.
Senior Jake Waters, who occasionally works at Sultan Hookah Bar on Shawnee Mission Parkway, believes the popularity of hookah bars in youth results from the freedoms that come from turning 18.
“I think it’s exciting for 18-year-olds to go there because now they can go legally,” Waters said. “I just think it’s because they’re excited they’re turning 18.”
Senior Margo Bradley went to a hookah bar for the first time on her 18th birthday in January.
“It’s just relaxed. You get to hang out with friends,” Bradley said. “You get to try different flavors and meet new people.”
Senior Andrew Geise also began going about a month ago.
“It’s just a social thing. It’s a lot of fun to hang out with friends and do something while you’re talking to them,” Geise said.
Mahmoude enjoys allowing his customers to have this experience. According to Mahmoude, Sinbad’s atmosphere is a combination of American and Arabic styles. It is inspired by Mahmoude’s childhood home of Palestine, where he first experienced hookah smoking and its cultural significance.
“In the Middle East, we follow religion a lot. For example, we’re not allowed to drink as Muslims. People there, they cannot have a drink, they cannot go to bars,” Mahmoude said. “That is why they come to the hookah bar. They’re kind of like a club, but a quiet atmosphere.”
Bradley agrees with Mahmoude that the bars are a comfortable place for people to hang out, as well as with his statement that hookah bars have become “a Starbucks idea.”
“I’d agree [it’s like Starbucks] because it’s just one of those fads that’s growing and it’s becoming more and more popular,” Bradley said. “Plus, they serve coffee and tea, so it really does have the same atmosphere except with hookah.”
Geise holds a similar view.
“To the people that know about them, then yeah, I would definitely see it being like ‘the new Starbucks,’” Geise said.
Hookah also allows for experimentaion with new flavors and smoking techniques. According to Geise, the best part of smoking hookah is “making the cool smoke rings. It’s so much fun.”
Bradley agrees this is best part.
“I am not good at [making smoke rings] at all, but I try,” Bradley said.
Both students also enjoy getting to try new flavors of shisha. Bradley’s favorites are “any kind of fruit mixed with mint,” while Geise’s favorites are rose and berry.
This freedom to experiment along with the atmosphere of hookah bars are what make Mahmoude believe that are so popular.
“People want to lose their minds sometimes,” Mahmoude said. “It’s a nice way of getting away from problems or also to have fun.”
After spending so much time working with journalism throughout our day to day lives, both of us find ourselves sometimes dreaming about journalism. The following are just a few of those dreams.
While Jill’s dreams related to journalism seem to be easy to laugh about, my dreams have been a bit more frightening because of how realistic they are. I don’t typically remember my dreams, but I vaguely remember a dream in which I kept bringing Habiger copies of different stories and she kept yelling that each story was terrible. About two months ago when I was in the process of submitting my portfolio of work to apply for KSPA Kansas High School Journalist of the Year, I again had a dream about criticism. Thye judges looked at my portfolio and questioned why I thought my portfolio would be remotely good enough to enter. I’m not exactly sure what all of these dreams, or rather nightmares, mean, but I am sure the countless number of hours I have spent in the journalism room have contributed to the madness.
I have had many little dreams involving journalism related topics. However, my most recent one was probably the most odd, as it involved the apocalypse. That’s right, the world was ending and apparently, us journalism kids had figured out a way to survive this catastrophe by swimming out into the ocean. I distinctly remember our adviser Mrs. Habiger, staying true to form, yelling to us as we paddled out, “Did somebody bring a camera? We need to get pictures of this!” I’m sure, had my dream not ended to the sound of my alarm, I would have enjoyed this post-apocalyptic society full of journalism nerds.
Lesson of the week:
1. When you spend so much time thinking about something, it can find it’s way into your dreams. Journalism is no exception.
Lesson 28 of being an editor-in-chief: Check.