Going into high school, I knew two things were certain. The first fact was plain and simple. There were no gimmicks, no fine print to be picked apart by overzealous lawyers; it was all so crystal clear. All of my classmates knew what was about to happen as well. The fact was, we were now high school freshman, therefore, expect the worst. As a freshman, however, I knew that my schooling was about to get a lot more interesting. The days of hand holding, everybody being forced to be friends and play nice, mandatory planner checks and threats of the notorious “detention” were now over. It was time to get serious. Time to start getting down to business, or at least that’s what I believe the principal was attempting to drill into our 14 year old minds at freshman orientation. I was the typical freshman at the time; with my prepubescent voice that cracked when I got excited, my height that still had not caught up to the girls I liked, my acne starting to flare up, and braces still glued so tightly onto my almost perfect teeth; I realized one small detail that not many typical freshmen were aware of, however. This fact was one that got me through the gruesome year that everyone has to endure. The second thing I knew was certain; one day it would be my turn, and I would rule the school just as the seniors above me at the time were doing.
As I entered the classroom of Mr. Kevin Weed on the first day of my senior year, I knew my day had come. I stepped into room 210 with gusto, and sat down in the typical high school desk covered with juvenile doodles. As I opened my black and yellow “Journalism” binder, I knew that this would be my time to write. I could finally show the school what I was capable of. I had always been a fan of writing, and now I could actually learn how to write for an audience; one consisting of more than a teacher, and for the school newspaper, nonetheless. Did I really care if only about one fourth of the student body read the paper? No. I had the opportunity to write, and I was not about to waste it.
This was my first year in Mr. Weed’s journalism class. This wasn’t an obstacle for me though. I wrote my heart out, taking in every little piece of advice that I could get from my fellow seniors who were returners to the class. I started in the class as a “staff writer”, which meant I got first pick of the “bottom of the barrel” stories, this due to my seniority. Again, nothing stopped me from writing. I took stories as bland as student report cards not being mailed out, but emailed instead, and spiced it up so that it was the talk of the lunch room. Writing a story meant that I would need to get some juicy details. This information was acquired by going out and interviewing students, staff, and school administration. What would a senior do in a situation where they could skip class to “interview” a student? Well just that, skip class. I was tempted multiple times by my peers, but I knew that if I wanted a good story I needed to work at it. Mr. Weed saw not only what I could do with a pencil and a steno pad, but my work ethic as well. He quickly moved me up to the news section of the paper.
The day I was moved up to “News Editor” was the day my initial thought was confirmed. My day had arrived. It took four painstaking years, but it was here, wrapped in shiny paper with a big red bow. Okay, it wasn’t that literal but it felt like it to me. I was the news editor of the school paper, and no one could stop me. With the new title came new responsibilities. I was in charge of layout for the front and second page of the paper, handing out news stories to all of my staff writers, and editing the stories that came back to be placed ever so neatly on my front page. Layout was the first issue on my mind. How was a new kid supposed to get two pages of layout done in just a week? It didn’t seem possible. With a little bit of help from fellow senior Brad Voorhorst, however, there was nothing to worry about. The trouble came along when it was time to edit the stories. You see, I have a different writing style than most. I like to keep the attention of my reader; I want my reader to close the story with a smirk, a smile, any kind of enjoyment. This didn’t pose too much of a problem, until I started to change the entire vibe of other staff writer’s stories. I wanted my front page to have pizzazz, spunk, and color. Unfortunately, not all journalism students were as enthralled with writing as I was. Story after story, I was savagely beaten with boring words consisting of, but not limited to; “things”, “like”, “a lot”, “really”, and my personal favorite, “stuff like that”. I’m sorry, but if you are writing an opinion story, put some opinion into it!
The “Opinion” section of the paper was secretly my favorite section. I had to be faithful to my news writers, and I loved them dearly, but writing an opinion piece was much more enjoyable. An opinion by definition is a subjective thought about a topic. To me, this was a green light to tear apart any subject on the docket. Brad Voorhorst and I worked cleverly together, tying our opinions together with witty comments towards one another in the same issue of the newspaper. Our pens and pencils ran miles on the steno pads we used to interview, reams of paper were wasted in the drafting process (sorry rainforest), and our computer keys screamed for breath while we typed with intensity and concentration. With only a few days of diligent work, Brad and I had great stories. Sarcasm was the basis of every work of wonder. Were we blunt about topics we didn’t enjoy? No. Did we use vernacular that would keep a freshman head spinning for days? You better believe it. Brad and I may have not always been the friendliest writers; but we had the facts, the know-how, and the story. Our masterpieces would be the topic casual conversation amongst most of the student body. It brought a smile to my face when I heard the buzz of our stories in the hallways going from student to student. The real satisfaction made its mark on me shortly after the first few issues of the newspaper were published, and to my astonishment, teachers were now giving me compliments. Did they actually think that I was a good writer? Were my stories able to keep people talking for more than a minute? Had my time finally arrived? Yes, yes, and you guessed it, yes.
Writing, you either love it or loath it. Well, in retrospect some people are just okay with it too. From the time I was a youngster playing in the school yard with all of my friends, running away from the cootie infested girls, writing had always been something I enjoyed. Looking back at my infamous senior year of high school, I see what writing has done for me. This is the part of my narrative where I should be explaining to my reader what they had just read about. If I learned anything from my high school English teachers about essays, it was one crucial detail; how to write a conclusion. What is a conclusion for? To tell the reader what you just told them. Well if you were paying attention at all, you will notice I just did. You will also notice my writing style is a little more relaxed, and not as monotone as most. Color and detail are essential to keep a reader’s attention. A well thought out thesis statement and witty topic sentences just aren’t enough in for some to keep reading. While my classmates were complaining about the eight page paper due in a week, I was typing away on my computer; planning, scheming, deleting, and re-creating. Doing just what I did for this narrative. Finding new ways to keep my reader entertained. My passion for writing has taken me to great places during my high school years. Starting out as the “nerdy freshman” and working my way up through the ranks opened my eyes as to what was possible in this world. If I could do this just by putting an ounce of effort into my writing; what else was there to be accomplished? My attitude toward school and life in general had been drastically changed after seeing this miracle in action.