Letters From The Editors: Breaking Barriers


Jena Smith and Justin Curto

Welcome back to Letters From The Editors. If you haven’t noticed, this week wasn’t a normal web week for us — we didn’t post our typical fare of sport and club updates, and we didn’t post any newspaper content. Instead, we posted 12 in-depth profiles of students who have overcome adversity for a special project called Breaking Barriers.

Mill Valley News started doing special projects during second semester of last year. The idea — creating a collection of profiles around a certain topic — was the brainchild of senior Shelby Hudson (a former web editor), and she led the yearbook staff in Putting Family First, a project about students and their family situations. That semester, the newspaper staff also profiled the 15 staff members who had been at the school for 15 years in a special project called 15 For 15.

This year, we decided to keep special projects around, doing one each quarter and alternating between yearbook and newspaper. After some internet stalking of our favorite online high school publications, J-Curt came across a similar project titled “Glass Ceilings” on Acumen (his favorite online high school publication), an online magazine at Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana. We adapted the idea, naming it Breaking Barriers and making it about students who have overcome adverse situations, and assigned it to the yearbook staff.

Unbeknown to us, the yearbook staff had several major deadlines around the same time we introduced the project. We were blown away by the yearbook staff’s talent for feature writing and non-awkward environmental portrait taking. Additionally, the staff had to work around conflicts with scheduling interviews, and some of the profile subjects changed around (ask senior Kate Ocker, who changed sources twice).

So, if you can’t tell, we’re super proud of the way Breaking Barriers turned out. If you haven’t been able to yet, you should read some (or all) of the profiles. And, don’t forget to check back in a month or two for our second quarter special project, completed by the newspaper staff.

Lessons of the week:

J-Curt: Like we mentioned earlier, Breaking Barriers came with its fair share of problems, like sourcing issues and scheduling around work and school. So, we had to work through these problems. The process of making Breaking Barriers gave me some valuable problem solving experience, and I’m grateful for that. It taught me how to compromise to make things work out in the end, and that, sometimes, just talking through an issue out loud can lead to a solution. While I don’t want to wish something negative upon Mill Valley News, but I’m kind of looking for another problem to solve now, just because I’ve become more cognizant of how to do it.

Jena: Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to a realization. I’m turning into J-Curt. When at first I just joked about it in the j-room, it’s safe to say there are definitely more similarities between J-Curt and I than there were at the end of our junior year. Our similarities don’t seem to hinder us though. We make a great team, both bringing different qualities to the table. After only one quarter of school, I’ve learned through J-Curt how to be a stronger leader and more effective communicator. If you see qualities in someone that you admire, learn by example and let that person make you a better human being.

That’s all … for now.

Seniors Justin “J-Curt” Curto and Jena Smith are the editors-in-chief of Mill Valley News online. They appreciate captioned photos, categorized and tagged stories, staff members who don’t text about web assignments at 11 p.m., teachers and students who talk about things they read on Mill Valley News and all things multimedia.

(Visited 12 times, 1 visits today)