Time to leave already?

The saying “all great things must come to an end” is prevailing at this point in my life. I’m almost a high school graduate; I’m nearly an adult; I’m almost to a point in life where I’m no longer a child! You’re probably thinking this is some sappy letter from a senior about how he has had the best time of his life and now he has to be an adult.

I’ll give it to you, you’re partly correct.

In fact, the last three years have made such an impact on my life that I wouldn’t know where to go in August if it weren’t for them.

Three years ago, ending my freshman year of high school to be exact, I made the decision to join the school “newspaper.” I wasn’t sure what I was doing, considering I was determined to be a surgeon. I just decided to join a publication that I had no clue about. Under a student’s initiative, I was asked to join, and look at me now, I did.

Not once did I think about becoming the leader of a writing organization. I was certain I was going to get an undergraduate degree in science or math and then attend medical school. I grew to be called names like “Dr. Crain” and Doogie Howser. Then I switched my whole game to be a writer? Sounds crazy, right?

It certainly was for me.

I remember coming into the “newsroom,” which actually was the yearbook classroom. We met each day during WIN, a 30-minute period that is similar to what some would call “study hall.”

The first story I worked on dealt with shock in the community regarding Glasgow High School and Barren County High School’s agreement to halt football games with each other. People couldn’t believe it, so I immediately hopped on the story to ask around what people felt. I eventually produced a story that was placed in the first edition of the “newspaper,” an online version accessed by a QR code.

Little did I know that a fire had started inside me that continues to burn today. My passion for storytelling began.

As I learned what journalism was I reached out for greater stories. One of my favorite stories included a trilogy detailing the school’s history. I interviewed several staff members from the first principal to teachers and athletic individuals.

What I learned during these interviews is something that has carried me into my career as a journalist. When you’re telling stories, they’re about people. Yes, these stories were about BCHS and its early days, but the blood, sweat and tears that went into where this school is now is what really mattered. That’s what I found to be the substance of the story, not the recollections.

Keeping this in mind, I developed stories around this same concept. Since then, even when I’m writing a news article, I find the emotion in my subject and display that to the reader.

Toward the end of sophomore year, a close friend, Aaron Russell, joined the paper. He had begun working toward a broadcasting/ production medium called BCHS Live!. We both started generating ways to increase the media realm at BCHS. In short, we developed a project called the Burgundy Media Network – BMN for short. In this project, we imagined media working together in the school to increase coverage and produce one consolidated project, which turned out to be a newscast.

I remember working all summer to prepare for this undertaking. I also assumed the title of editor-in-chief. I really began to get a feel of what journalism was, but I still wasn’t convinced this is what I wanted to do with my life.

As editor I began calling shots, implementing coverage schedules and generally keeping tabs on how my staff would work. Essentially, I became a leader.  

Being the person in charge of a student publication isn’t for anyone. From selling ads, designing the paper to writing stories and taking pictures, I truly have done it all.  

I couldn’t think of a better way to prepare myself for my career, though. In fact, without the learning process the last three years have been, we couldn’t have made progress as a publication.

When we began we barely had knowledge of how to write an article using AP style. At this point we have won awards, travelled across the country to a national conference, implemented coverage of BCHS the community depends on, and most importantly, we’ve taught students what a free press means. For this, I couldn’t be prouder.

It takes a lot of time to develop something good. That’s why I call my time with the Trojan Times an era. During my era, we have built the paper from the ground up. I often tell the incoming editors that they’re about to embark on their own era, just a slightly different one. For me, I spent time laying a foundation, but now the task is to continue building on to create something stronger.

While I will part ways as editor of the paper in a few days, I am thrilled to say that I will frequently assist the Trojan Times’ editors and students in the coming year. Yes, I will be at Western Kentucky University pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism, but I’m passionate about helping the next generation. The students that work to produce content everyday are inspiring individuals. Without the dedication of students and staff, the Trojan Times would not be where it is today.

With that said, I couldn’t conclude this farewell without thanking people that have made significant differences along the way.

First, I’d like to thank my adviser, Kelley Bauer. Over the course of my time with the paper she has served as the adviser. She has spent countless hours reviewing work, brainstorming and talking with me, planning trips, entering work for contests and generally taking care of tasks that I can’t. I often stress that our students volunteer their time to write for the Trojan Times, but I fail to mention that Mrs. Bauer does this, too. It takes a special person to teach classes, have a family and advise student media. In fact, she deserves to be called a coach. For her dedication, time, advice and having an open ear, I thank Kelley Bauer for making such an impression on me. Because of her guidance, I have been able to win awards, experience new things, and get a foot in the world of real journalism before I have even graduated.

In addition, thank you to my staff. Without a supportive staff, a leader is nothing. From cheering me on at an awards ceremony to trusting me to give you advice, my staff has been a constant reminder of my goals.

Lastly, my family has been such a support in my career as a high school journalist. There has been a number of occasions I have stayed out and missed dinner covering stories or writing articles. For those moments, I’m thankful they cooperated because I have been given opportunities that I wouldn’t have without putting in those extended hours.

For the meantime, I will be getting an education to further develop myself as a journalist. I cannot explain how excited I am to see what God’s plan is for my life in the coming years.

For now, thank you to my readers and your support as I embark on the next stage of my life.