Editor’s Note: Teachings from journalism


Maddie Booton

The Etched in Stone staff at the end-of-the-year picnic

Anna Henning, Editor in Chief

I sat down to write my final piece for Etched in Stone, and I found myself at a loss for words. Over the last four years, this newspaper has been my home. When thinking about how much journalism means to me, I finally found my voice to write this. Through Etched in Stone, I have found safety in Room N123. I have found empowerment through telling other people’s stories, as well as my own. I have found courage in being a leader, and being an advocate. And now, I am finding myself at the end of my time at Fossil Ridge High School, and it is time to say goodbye.

In a year when I felt lost and terrified, journalism became my sanctuary. As a freshman, I was full of uncertainty. I had not much of a grip on who I was, or who I wanted to be. Through Journalism I and II, I found a space where I could develop myself and my own opinions. I could debate and explore without fear of judgement, and I could find out who I was as a person. 

Sophomore year was by far my most difficult year of high school. I was severely depressed, and in a headspace I never want to return to. Journalism saved me. The friends I had made in that class fought for me, when I had given up on fighting. Looking back to that time in my life, on the other side, I could not have made it through without the love and support of those people. When junior year hit, Room N123 was the only environment where I felt safe enough to be myself, fully and completely. When stepping into the newsroom, there is no judgement, no shame. And, as the pandemic hit, I had a network to keep myself strong. 

Now, as a senior, I have done everything I can to keep this space safe. Maintaining a good school newspaper is important to me, but I care about my staff so much more. Building relationships with them, nurturing them, and checking in with them was a huge part of being an Editor in Chief. When I leave, I do not want people to remember me solely for all the articles I wrote. I want my staff to look back at me, and remember the environment I created, and feel inspired to carry that on. 

Through journalism, I grew a sense of empowerment I had never felt before. Through openly telling my own experiences with epilepsy, I helped other people not feel alone—an extremely rewarding feeling that makes all the vulnerability worth it. I also felt empowered through telling others’ stories about life and events. The idea that I could connect people together with just my words came with a sense of power and responsibility, that I cherish and honor deeply. Publishing my writing and photos to the school was also a major step for me, but was one that felt so freeing. Even though I know that not everyone would read it, having it out there in such a public setting made me feel strong.

Most of all, I found courage. If I would have told my freshman self that I would be running Etched in Stone in my senior year, I would not have believed it. My confidence has grown to a point where I give lessons to the class, train staffers in new roles, and feel comfortable checking in with others. I am able to put myself out there in situations to take photos and get interviews for stories, even at unfamiliar events. This courage is something that I have never possessed before, but will carry throughout my entire life.

Now the time has come for me to say goodbye. They say that high school goes by so fast, and that is hard to believe. But, at the end, I can say that is true. I cannot believe it is already over. But, I know this is not the end. I will continue to keep in touch with my staffers, and support Etched in Stone.

It is time for me to start a new journey. I am heading to the University of Montana, where I will be majoring in journalism. I am so excited to be taking more than one class in journalism each semester, and I cannot wait to grow my knowledge even more. I hope that when I come back to visit Room N123, I can share my new learnings with the staffers. 

Finally, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to Maddy Lewis, my amazing Co-Editor in Chief. I could not have done this without her. She has been my rock, and she has brought out the best in me. Thank you to Ben DeGear, my adviser of all four years with Etched in Stone. He has taught me so much about not only journalism, but life as well. I am so grateful for all of his support, constructive criticism, and encouragement. He has been the best teacher I have ever had. Thank you to Caroline Sears and Melissa May. I am so glad to be passing on the paper to such good hands, and I know they will do amazing. Thank you to all my other staffers, new and old. They are all amazing people, writers, and friends. I adore each and every one of them, and I will miss them dearly.

And thank you, dear reader. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and any article on Etched in Stone. Your support means more than you know. Every comment, every view, gives us an encouragement boost for the thing we put our heart and soul into. So thank you, and so long.