Opinion Columns & Blogs

May 30, 2010

Helping young journalists find their passion, hone their skills

By the end of next week, thousands of young people will have graduated from area high schools and turned the page to a new chapter in their lives.

At The Bee, we had our own ceremony of sorts last week, as we said goodbye to 11 journalists whose bylines have graced our pages this past year.

They're not taking jobs elsewhere, or retiring, or anything like that. Rather, they're leaving to head off to college.

They're members of our Teens in the Newsroom program, young men and women who each week have written about life from their perspectives.

Altogether, about 20 young people took part in the program this year, some of them only occasionally but others writing virtually every week for our Thursday Buzzz section.

They covered everything from school budget cuts to stress over tests to a crackdown on "dirty dancing" to student volunteering to school trips to music and drama productions. And they put together our popular "Teen Hall of Fame," "My Favorite Outfit" and "13 Things About Me" features.

We know that what they did benefited our Buzzz readers -- from fellow teenagers to parents to grandparents.

And we know it benefited the young journalists as well.

"Teens in the Newsroom has sort of changed my life completely," Victoria Pardini told us in summing up her experiences. "Because I joined when I was a freshman, it was entirely a part of my high school experience. (It) taught me how to branch out to other people and talk to individuals who I would normally not come into contact with in my daily life.

"Teens in the Newsroom," she said, "basically formed my identity in high school. I was able to find my niche as a writer, and I found my passion in journalism. Because of it, I have learned how to be more outgoing, try new things and expand my writing abilities."

At our recent ceremony, Pardini won The Bee's top "Scoopy" award as the outstanding student journalist.

After she graduates next week from Modesto High School, Pardini will take her passion to UC Berkeley, with hopes of becoming a political journalist or foreign correspondent.

Another of our student stars, Rachael Crowley, described her experience this way:

"I've learned so much about working with other writers to produce something interesting, whole, and fun for the readers. Before, I was used to working on my own, but being on the Teens in the Newsroom staff really helped me see things from other journalists' points of views and get their opinions on things. That was important because I feel as if I'm better at dealing with people, and coworkers specifically.

With her Ripon High diploma and "Scoopy" outstanding writer award in hand, Crowley is heading to San Francisco State University and eventually, she hopes, to a career in writing or editing.

The other nine bidding farewell to Buzzz are heading to colleges far and wide, from Drexel University in Philadelphia to The Master's College in Santa Clarita, from Cal State Stanislaus to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City to Belmont University in Nashville.

Based on what we've seen of them, we're confident they'll all do well.

Still, we're going to miss each of these bright young journalists, and we're sure you will, too. But, between the ones who are staying on and others who will be joining the program, we're looking forward to more stories of, by and for young people.

And, we encourage other high school students to join our Teens in the Newsroom.

"Even if they're not interested in a journalism career, it gives them a broad perspective into how important it is to be able to gather information and communicate it effectively to a wide audience," explains The Bee's Dan Day, who coordinates the program.

More information about Teens in the Newsroom is available by writing us at teens@modbee.com.

Vasché can be reached at mvasche@modbee.com or 578-2356.

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