When I entered high school, I was as lost as any other 14-year-old. My friendships from middle school already began to dissipate. I was struggling with where I belonged in the social hierarchy in terms of cliques. On top of it all, I was suffering from acne and braces along with my own awkward phase.
 
However, the one thing I did carry with me through my transition to high school was my love for writing. When I got to choose my electives for the ninth grade, there was no creative writing class available at the time. Instead, I picked journalism 1 as an elective since it was the closest class to creative writing. And thus, was the start of an amazing era in my life.
 
In journalism, I was able to explore a whole different side of writing I had never done before: journalistic, of course. Mrs. Hanks (Ms. Kohler at the time), had us students read through various court cases, world-wide events, remember media laws, practice interviewing others, and so much more. By the end of the school year, Mrs. Hanks had recommended a lot of us to apply for news and yearbook staff, something I didn’t imagine myself ever doing.
 
With encouragement from Mrs. Hanks, a couple friends, and my mom, I applied for the yearbook staff. I knew it was going to be difficult and stressful, as Mrs. Hanks cautioned those applying for yearbook, but I was ready for the challenge. I was ready to step out of my comfort zone to explore something new.
 
To summarize my first year being on the press team, it was…unique to say the least. I explored different programs needed to make the yearbook with, I made new friendships that I knew were going to last, and I faced criticism that I wasn’t used to. I picked up on so many new skills, like learning about cameras in depth, how to create a yearbook spread, and NOT to use hyphenations in copy, something Mrs. Hanks and then copy editor Hannah Reynolds always reminded me.
 
By the end of last school year, I was ready to cry and go forward at the same time. I experienced the feeling of not doing well enough and feeling like I didn’t belong on the staff. I felt defeated to say the least due to how much I felt that I lacked skills wise. Whilst at the same time, I wanted to move up and continue to work hard to improve my work ethic and myself, to get better at doing my job. Laying around moping about how I was not as ‘good’ at something wasn’t going to solve any problem I had.
 
Over the summer going into this school year, I switched onto news staff; the area where I did my best in over design and photography. My new job was to write for the UHSpress blog and the upcoming magazine. We would also help the yearbook staff here and there when assistance was needed for anything, like helping with mods or copy.
 
Even though news staff is a small party of four, we all have managed the blog amazingly along with the yearbook staff. I have grown so much closer with my editor Samantha, this being my second year under her supervision, the oh-so-silly and goofy Grace Gillen, and our own personal cheerleader, Alexus Cleavenger.
 
Being on the press team has opened new doors for me. I have become more social than I ever thought I would. I have also gained so much more knowledge. Through the team, I have been able to understand that criticism is necessary in order to get better at something you love doing. That sometimes, the truth does hurt. And most importantly, you cannot give up on something because you feel like you are not adequate in that area or equipped with the same skills as others.
 
These were areas that I struggled most in and still struggle in to this day, as I dealt with social anxiety for a very long time. I found it hard to face the times I wasn’t the best at doing something I love. But through the press team, I have become so much more confident in myself. I can speak to others about what is on my mind now. I can talk to strangers as if I’ve known them for years. I can now stand and speak in front of a classroom without feeling like my nerves are going to explode (as much).
 
Thanks to being a part of this family, I will also be able to carry the memories I have now and will continue to receive going into the next year. Drinking lemonade out of paper bowls curtesy of Cierra Stark. Johnny Jackson constantly knocking down/breaking the chairs somehow (even when he is sitting down). Joey Arquette managing to get half of the student body to dance to Cotton Eye Joe at the football game against Deltona. My daily ritual of greeting Samantha Neely. The time where the always-caring Lauren Thomas took the time to check up on me when I started to break down during a work night, despite her having a load-full of work to get done that evening.
 
Nonetheless, through the laughs and tears, the cult known as UHSpress is one of the best clubs on campus that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of and is one that I will always cherish.

Published by Carson Francis

News Editor-in-Chief