By Jessica Rougeau
Senior Staff Writer
If someone told me that I’d continue writing for a newspaper after high school, I would have easily bet them a million dollars that they’d be wrong. Thank god I didn’t, or else I’d be homeless, using Horizons newspaper as a blanket.
Journalism was never my thing. However, writing is. So I constantly found myself working for school newspapers to try to get over the animosity.
My first semester writing for Horizons was definitely a learning experience. While I was still harboring the cynicism of previous papers, the overall atmosphere immediately felt different than that of others.
Professor Steve Mark had a great deal to do with acclimating not only me, but each and every one of us. If you've never written for a paper before, the process can be quite daunting and overwhelming if you do not manage your time and keep your eyes open. Steve stressed this, but also provided some words of wisdom. He said that it's a beneficial opportunity to grow as a writer and observe the sights and sounds around you.
I instantly felt comfortable and anxious to start my first story. I clearly remember brainstorming what kinds of things I wanted to write, and thought back to what I had always wished to write on other papers but was never allowed to: oh yeah, music reviews! And it was then that "Rock Your Face Off" reviews were born. I highlight this as an important moment for me because I was never considered in writing them for other newspapers. I appreciated the chance to do it for Horizons.
Besides sharpening my creativity, the class placed me in a position to work closely with every single one of my classmates, more so than any other class I've ever taken. You are constantly put into groups to critique another classmate’s writing or work. One on one, you swap your story with someone else. You have full support and access to new ideas through each drafting stage of your story. Everyone works together. It's almost like a family because many of us return the next semester to do it all over again. I've gotten to know some people on staff on a personal level, and I can't say the same for any other courses I've had.
I returned to the Horizons staff for my second semester knowing what I was in for this time, but open to learning more. I made it a point to try to write different types of articles to make myself more well-rounded. This began to affect my other school work in a positive way.
One of my professors, Joanne Rochman, taught my English class for my first and second semesters; an avid reader of Horizons, she was always the first person to read my articles the day the paper came out.
"I would definitely say that working on the paper has changed the way Jessica writes because she now knows how to organize her thoughts and interviews more readily. The ideas flow from mind to paper in a stream of consciousness. She knows what to ask and how to ask it, so putting the words on to paper is the easy part”, Rochman said. “She knows how to hook a reader, and can easily move from a lead in journalism to a hook in a composition or literature class."
Without this class, I would have no other way of feeling legitimately involved at Housatonic because of my busy schedule outside of school. Horizons gives me a voice to share my writing and ideas with anyone who chooses to open up one of our papers and read them. I’m more aware of things going on at the school, upcoming events and issues that I’d more than likely be oblivious to if I was not working this closely with the reporters who find out this information. This will be the last article I write for the paper, so I’ll be sure to type this last sentence as slowly as possible…
Want to learn more about writing for Horizons? Go to the advisor's home page at http://homepage.mac.com/stevemark