Editor’s Note: Finding the spark

Aislyn and Sophie in the journalism classroom.
Aislyn and Sophie in the journalism classroom.
Sophie Webb
I plan on pursuing photojournalism as my career.
Aislyn McDonald

All throughout my middle and high school career, I absolutely hated English classes, thus, my passion for journalism came as a big shock to me. Sophomore year, in an attempt to find any possible way to avoid a traditional English class, one of my friends mentioned signing up for journalism and, not knowing at all what I was signing up for, I added it to my schedule. 

Right from the first week of class, I could already tell I was meant to be there. It was such a positive environment and it felt so much more comfortable than any other class I could have taken. By the end of the semester, I found myself debating current issues with my peers and searching out my next story; I had absolutely fallen in love with journalism and I must credit Mr. Peardot for being the main reason.

Taking the leap from Journalism 1 to a staff writer for Etched in Stone was a huge learning curve, and for the first little while, I felt pretty lost in the class. As a staff writer, accountability is huge, and it took me a long time to find my flow. I remember the first article I published, how absolutely proud I was, but it was not until I started learning about site design that I felt I started to find my place.

Graphic design became my main project for the paper as I started to redesign the entire site. I had a blast, and by the end of it, came up with something I was quite proud of. Although, I still had yet to find an area I was passionate to write about, which at the time, made me rethink if I belonged in a newsroom…until Bright Star.

Outside of school, photography is my passion. With that said, I offered to try photography for the 2023 musical, Bright Star. Sophie and I were originally going to photograph the musical as a pair, yet she got scheduled for work the same night. I went to the show absolutely terrified and lost, feeling like I would be unable to deliver a decent product. However, as a journalist, there is no room for nerves and I was not throwing away my shot, so I started snapping photos.

As the show went on, I began to feel more comfortable being up in front of the stage; I got used to working with the lighting and my camera. Then all the nerves turned into excitement. Although I was still not certain the photos would turn out well, the experience was wonderful.

The following few days were filled with sorting, editing and captioning. I was obsessed with the photos and the emotion they contained. I published the photo essay and felt so empty without having such a wonderful piece to work on, so I featured the lead of Bright Star. 

I found so much enjoyment in listening to these actors talk about their passion, their journey, and their peers. My favorite was seeing their eyes light up and their faces brighten with pride as they continued. Passion is truly an unmatched expression.

My journey through photographing and following up on this musical was wonderful and somewhere along the way, I found my spark. It falls somewhere in seeing and reporting other people’s passion, showing their unwavering love for what they do. Capturing it in photos or in an interview; I love my place in the arts.

Looking into the upcoming semester both excites me and scares me a little bit. I am truly ecstatic to follow the production of the upcoming musicals and discover the stories behind people’s passion. 

If I could give any advice to future journalists just starting out, it is that the spark is never in your comfort zone. Getting thrown into photographing Bright Star solo is an experience I would not trade for anything. As big and challenging a task as it was, I am so eternally grateful to everyone who pushed me to do it.

I plan on pursuing photojournalism as my career. (Hannah Smith)
My goal for the future is to become a journalist and publish books in my free time.
Sophie Webb

I have always enjoyed writing. It did not become my thing until my third-grade teacher told me I “had a good author’s voice”. I liked to write… and I was apparently good at it… so what more could a nine-year-old girl want? Then it just stuck, and well here we are. 

I first took Journalism 1 in my sophomore year with Peardot as my teacher. He is one of the true reasons I continued with journalism and why I continue to write today. 

One of my first stories in the class was about mental health around the school and that is when I began to find a purpose within this subject. 

Then Journalism 1 became Journalism 2. I was struggling to find my place within the staff since the last time I really had my people was volleyball. The talks that lasted for hours where everything said was safe, and since I had quit it was like a piece of myself had gone missing. 

This was my first year not playing for a decade, but little did I know N123 would feel like a second home with a family. The fire that I thought was blown out would soon start to spark back. 

It was not till mid-March when everything began to fall into place. Our sports lead asked me to go with him to the boys’ State basketball game to take pictures, which actually sounded really fun, so I accepted. The only problem, I was not a photography type of girl. Yet it was a good opportunity to step out of my comfort zone because the worst thing that could happen is some mediocre pictures. 

Being next to a pool of professional photographers was very intimidating, not knowing what to do. Here is something you have to understand about me, several people on both sides of my family have a knack for photography but I never understood it. I wanted to, but it just was not my thing: or so I thought.

The entirety of the game was exhilarating, trying to capture the best picture or at least a usable one for the article. 

I loved it, but for the rest of junior year, I stayed with my typical culture stories I had been comfortable with, but senior year I wanted to be that sports girl who also wrote meaningful articles. Let me tell you, it is horrifying being on a football field next to these huge players who are angry and energized but just like the basketball game, I began to feel a warmth in my chest and a need to do more. 

That’s when Senior Season was born. I wanted to do something original for Etched in Stone, something never really seen before and something that I could give to the paper before I graduated. This is why one late night in July I thought of Senior Season, this series of stories written about the senior athletes around the school. 

I know going into it that it would be a daunting task since I would have to do close to a hundred different interviews, but I knew this was what I wanted my senior project for Etched in Stone to be. 

Each template I used for Senior Season turned out more lackluster than I would have hoped until Aislyn stepped in. She helped with the website redesign last year and introduced me to info-boxes and, finally, it was perfect. 

Then after showing up to game after game and publishing a pile of articles, I was applying to college… and I was selecting journalism as my major. 

All I know is somewhere in the tornado of words and events something in me changed. I cannot pick one moment to say this is the reason why I am here, but I can tell you about several different moments where my love for journalism deepened, where it reiterated my decision to want to do this, where I found and continue to find my spark. 

Both Peardot and DeGear support me constantly as a writer and help build me to be the writer I am today.

My goal for the future is to become a journalist and publish books in my free time. (Laurent )

Ever since the first grade, we have been inseparable. It is hard to believe that now we are taking on the role of Co-Editors in Chief together.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Etched in Stone
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Fossil Ridge High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Etched in Stone
Our Goal

Comments (0)

Slander or profanity, even if abbreviated, will not be approved.
All Etched in Stone Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *