Tag: High School

Time Marches On

I’ve had no problems talking about how much I enjoyed my high school experience in the past. I was a hell of a teacher’s pet and really made good friends with a lot of them, so between that and my time as a journalist on the High Tide it felt like I really came into my own.

In fact, at least once before I’ve written a post very much like the one I’m filling space with tonight. Except that small piece on how much I appreciated my high school teachers is more than two years old now.

Which is just crazy to me. Because I was one year into college then. Now I’m a college senior.

It’s something I’m personally still coming to terms with, but watching a bunch of my old professors react to that news was simply priceless.

For context, tonight was back to school night for my sister. Since I only have one class on Thursdays this semester, I was able to make it back in time to tag along. Like I said I feel close with a lot of those old teachers considering many of them shaped where I am now, so I like to come around and poke my head where it doesn’t belong once in a while.

Other than the “wow we’re old” reaction, I was able to get a lot more meaningful stuff in with a few of my ex-teachers in between the 10-minute periods of back to school talk.

Like joking around with my AP Lang teacher for not being able to make it to the now at least yearly gathering of “the AP Lang Gang” that spawned in her room.

Or catching up with my AP Gov teacher about the crazy political scene and the fact that I tried out a restaurant recommendation in the OC he made at least a year ago.

[[ Also I know today was especially crazy with the Supreme Court nominee hearing. But I’m not going to talk about it. Because I didn’t get to pay a whole lot of attention, and I’m not an expert even if I did. Good? Good. ]]

I had an especially fun time this year catching up with my old journalism advisor and telling him about my new position with Gladeo. As well as catching up with my AP Psych professor and telling her about taking up a psych minor in college — she was pretty ecstatic about that.

On top of that, I was surprised to find that one of my old math teachers (who Aly has a class with now) remembered who I was right when I walked in the room.

Even though I haven’t seen her since sophomore year.

Teachers are crazy sweet with that kind of thing, I swear.

Another surprise of the night was seeing some stuff like this around campus:

For context, again, this 900s building did not exist when I was there. In fact, it didn’t exist about a year ago when I came for back to school night last.

Kind of jarring to see that new space obscuring the skyline, especially considering it’s right in front of the spot where my friends and I used to hang out every day.

There were some other nice parts of the night too. It’s actually my Mom’s birthday today (and I know she’ll be reading this, so extra happy birthday again!) and it was great watching all of her parent friends wish her well throughout the night as we ran into them.

I mean let’s be honest, I actually brought my Switch to the event thinking I was going to have some boring downtime.

Took it along with me like I was dealing watches on a New York sidewalk:

Have I mentioned I love this jacket?

But I never had to use it. If anything, it was kind of a burden in the long run.

Just goes to show you that when you have some old faculty friends, it’s never a bad time to go visit them. I always look forward to doing so, because it really does help bring some hindsight back to my life.


P.S. Despite the fact that it made for one of the most liked posts I’ve put together in a while, my Grandma didn’t like the picture I took of us the other day.

She requested we take another, so we did:

This time with a much more fancy background.

Enjoy!

A Short Essay on Short Essays

A Short Essay on Short Essays

I don’t know why I insist on writing these posts after going to the gym lately, because really it’s just detrimental for my ability to imagine and write coherent posts.

Though perhaps not as much as the insufferable heat wave yesterday.

I’ll count my blessings where I can.

Speaking of that heat killing all of my motivation, it seems I’ve been fluctuating between work-focused and not at all work-focused quite a bit the past few days. After doing next to nothing yesterday, today I actually got my stuff together enough to be productive. Notably with a job application I’ve been working on that is, admittedly, a far-flung idea for me to feel completely justified talking about in-depth.

Doing that job application has gotten me thinking a little bit about one part of this app, and many others for that matter, that feels somewhat strange to me at the moment.

The personal essay.

I don’t typically put a lot of thought into the idea of writing essays. Growing up I put myself through the wringer of the Advanced Placement course pathway in high school, which included AP Language and AP Literature. We had to write a lot of essays in those classes to prepare us for the AP exams, so I was used to the idea.

Essays also continued to be synonymous with college courses. Every undergraduate-level class has some kind of writing requirement and all of my Communications courses are all about writing.

As a result, you would think essay requirements showing up in job applications would just come in stride.

Which, to be fair, they do for the most part. Whenever I’ve applied for the Daily Titan an essay has always been required, for example.

But for some reason the essay that was asked of me in this current job application stuck out as… The worst, most stand-out part of it.

It took me a little while to figure out exactly why. But I think the conclusion I’ve come to says something about me and the way I tend to approach work.

For me essays make a lot more sense in a job application when they ask for some kind of very specific information. Using the Daily Titan application as an example, the essay portion of that involves answering a couple of questions pertaining to the potential job.

What does the paper do well? What does it not do well? What can you bring to the job you’re applying for that would make it better?

Things like that.

Sure it’s arguably formulaic to go down this route, but the sense of direction those questions bring do make for a straight-forward task. Answering the questions, while utilizing them as conduits for inserting stories of one’s experience as a means of showcasing that individual’s abilities.

The application I’ve been working on doesn’t really have any sort of driving questions like this to give potential employees a sense of direction.

As far as premise goes, this application simply asks for an autobiographical essay to tell the hiring staff something that cannot be garnered from the surrounding questions in the application. Given the fact that it already asks for degree-earning information, references and work samples outside of the essay, that leaves a vague opening for what can be written.

That somewhat vague nature exacerbates a potential pitfall in writing the essay. Or at least it does in my head where I’m more than likely over thinking things, but that’s another story.

If you have an essay for a fairly serious job application essentially asking you to write about anything you want outside of your direct work experience, where is the line in terms of being too casual or not casual enough?

Obviously the whole thing can’t just be the tale of how you won X reward or accomplished Y task, but it’s also probably not great form to do something jokey or entirely non-serious since the serious aspects might be in one’s resume off the bat. Looking like you take the job not at all seriously while applying to it seems like a quick way to lose a potential job.

Now all of this is more of a theoretical thought experiment, as the pragmatic side of me has already sorted out the balance of serious-versus-personal qualities to write about. But seeing my personal preference lean so heavily in the direction of a structured, serious or even academic paper versus one that lets me express myself in an open, even goofy way is interesting. Introspective even.

Perhaps all those years of AP classes really did screw me up for the rest of my life, just like I joke about.

This seems like the perfect opportunity to ask an actually interesting question at the end of one of these blog posts. Where do you feel you stand on the spectrum I described here?

Do you prefer if a job (or anything for that matter) asks structured, serious questions of you? Or more open, vague questions?

Let me know somewhere on the internet, I’d love to hear it!

English Papers from the Flip Side

Between going off to meetings in Fullerton and building somewhat mindlessly in Minecraft tonight, I kind of lost track of time and almost forgot to write a thing.

So I’m just going to take the easy way out and riff on something real fast and dirty that I’m finally seeing from a new perspective tonight: High school English essays.

English was probably my favorite subject in high school, which all things being equal makes sense considering the industry I was headed toward by working at the school’s paper for four years.

Don’t listen to young, naive Jason who’s ready to tell you math was my favorite subject in school. Because he’s wrong. Algebra was okay. But the geometry and the trigonometry and the calculus certainly were not.

One out of three classes does not a favorite make, you idiot. Stop lying to yourself.

But hey that’s enough self-reflection and self-flagellation for one night. Obviously that’s not what I’m here to do.

What I’m here to do is talk about English classes, all of which required just a ton of essays every year. Especially AP Language and AP Literature, both boasting the extra requirements of essays specific to the AP tests that were just… A lot of work. Like so much work. Like write three different kinds of essays in the span of an hour after answering 100 multiple choice questions kind of work.

Yet surprisingly enough, I’m not here to relive that nightmare either.

I’m here to talk about the basic weeks-long essays that happened throughout the year in every English class. You know the ones, those essays where one quarter would be focused on persuasive writing, followed by the next quarter focusing on argumentative writing.

I bring up all of this writing because tonight my sister was working on completing final edits for her research paper on how music can effect a person’s perception of restaurants/the meals they eat. Because let’s face it, she’s as one-track-minded about music as I am about video games.

Also just incorporated video games into my post about Aly again. #GotHer

Back in my high school English days, there were many a long night of staying up late with my parents to finish papers. Actual writing, editing for copy, creating work cited pages, and so on.

While I certainly did appreciate their help keeping me from going crazy at the time, I never quite realized how impactful it was to have a couple of good editors around to prevent me from going crazy staring at my own text for too long. My mom has always been the copy editor — now reflected in her career as a book editor (hint hint plug plug) — while my dad has always been the content editor, always good at framing things the right way.

Tonight I got the opportunity to really appreciate the impact of that work when I became both copy and content editor for my sister as my parents were out of the house.

Now you may think my seven years of experience working on newspapers, many of which have been in editorial positions, would have made this a quick-and-easy time.

If so, you too seem to not realize the vast divide that exists between writing short, informational print for newspapers versus writing elegant prose for English essays. Because they are entirely different beasts and switching back to the older style (older in my personal chronology anyway) is kind of a pain.

There were some noticeable benefits to switching back to English prose however, in my opinion.

I got to be more wordy and expand upon thoughts more verbosely, for instance. It has always been a criticism of my work that my papers tend to be too long or wordy, but after many years of focusing on becoming more concise to fit a newspaper format it was a lot easier to take the middle-of-the-road approach.

Not too long, but enough extra space to be able to elaborate on thoughts more readily.

I suppose there really is no good way to end off this short, kind of silly post because Aly has to turn in the essay tomorrow so I can’t resolve the cliffhanger of how well she did on it.

So instead I’ll just say… Thank you mom and dad, for dealing with me when I got so exhausted staring at a paper that you had to do 90 percent of the job by pushing me toward the correct ideas.

Because that’s basically what I had to do tonight, and it was… Interesting seeing things from the other side.



Bonus content:

Enjoy Aly laughing herself into a coma as she seriously loses it trying to edit photos of chef Mario Batali into the powerpoint presentation she needs to accompany her essay.

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Music by Moonlight

Music by Moonlight

Probably a shorter one for you all today. I’ve been out quite literally all afternoon at this event and don’t necessarily feel awake enough to spend all night writing.

That said, I suppose I can’t complain too much about being tired since I had a great time at Jazz under the Stars today.

Jazz under the Stars is an annual end-of-year concert that’s put on by the Redondo Union High School jazz bands/music program. Given my little sister’s involvement with the musical performing arts in high school, it has become a yearly tradition for my family to attend.

In fact, I still remember last year quite fondly. During the night’s performances, I finally managed to unlock the cards I needed in Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links to be able to play the at-the-time overpowered Gravekeeper’s deck.

That deck was really fun while it lasted in the meta.

My aside here, by the way, only exists because Aly told me she was annoyed that my last post about her music stuff was interrupted by my talking about video games.

So there you go Aly. Have fun with that side story.

But that’s enough being petty. I do actually have some nice things to say about tonight’s musical event.

The show altogether was about five hours of different performances out in the front lawn of the RUHS auditorium.

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A bunch of different bands and combinations performed, including the two primary jazz band classes at the high school (Jazz A and Jazz B, as convenient naming schemes have it), quintets of freshman in the program and of like-minded brass musicians, as well as some performances by the student band from Adams Middle School – which also happens to be an alma mater of mine.

One performance also featured some RUHS music program alumni coming out to play, and a few songs were done alongside the band director’s own high school band director/mentor.

I took the liberty of recording a couple of the pieces at the show, in part because Mom asked me to and in part because it offered me the chance to continue guinea pigging this whole uploading videos schtick.

Here’s one of the songs done by the Adams Middle School band:

And here’s my sister performing as a part of Jazz A (the advanced band, #humblebrag):

No idea how these people can keep performing for eight minutes at a shot. Musicians are some special kind of talented, man.

I do wish I had recorded the brass quintet as well, since they did a cute maneuver where most of the members started off hidden amongst the audience and walked up to the stage… But oh well.

Hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

Alongside all those performances was another display of talent by the school’s swing dance club. It’s apparently a frequently popular activity amongst band kids at RUHS, and my sister is also a part of that:

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She’s the one with the red hair if you hadn’t caught on just yet.

The night of music sitting out on a lovey Southern Californian plaza would be nice enough as is, but there were other parts of the event that I enjoyed.

Because Jazz under the Stars is the last major concert of the school year, the band director took an opportunity to salute a number of graduating seniors. It’s honestly kind of touching just how intimately he seems to know each and every kid with such a large collection year after year.

On top of that, the event was also full of little torch-passing moments. The middle school performance was one, as it was the opportunity to see some kids coming into high school.

I also caught this moment:

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Where Magic Moreno helped teach some kids how to work the sound board for the event.

However, arguably one of the best parts of the event was the food.

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See this tri tip sandwich? Yeah. Not sure I even have to say all that much more.

A guy named Kevin Pierre caters most of the band program concerts at RUHS and makes a hell of a steak sandwich. It’s always a highlight.

On top of that, there was also a gelato stand, a jarred pickle stand and a nut stand manned by an RUHS student who started his own business.

Pretty cool stuff.

That’s about all I’ve got to say about Jazz for today. Stay tuned for what will probably be a post talking about the end-of-year band banquet next week, but until then please go back and enjoy the Jazz Band A performance again.

Seriously still impressed me how long those guys can play.

The power of the pen(cil)

When I graduated from high school a few years back, my parents got me one of the most important, physical gifts with real-life practicality that I have ever received:

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That’s right, a pen and pencil set.

It seems a little bit strange to pick apart over 21 years of constant, loving support and choose something like this as an example of something I regard so fondly.

But it does make sense if you think about it!

As a writer by trade, there are few things more important than the right hardware. Notebooks, pencils, pens, audio recorders, etc. I quite literally live my life by these items through my college student/journalist career.

Add onto that a heaping dose of superstition by my allocating generous amount of credit for things like my grades into the old ‘lucky pencil’ cliché and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any of this stuff leave my side.

The thing that really stands out to me, however, is the dichotomy of the two writing utensils. Those differences are essentially what inspired me to write this silly little post.

Just a quick look up-close will show you why. This is the pen part of the set:

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Rather nice and clean, even arguably near-perfect for how long I’ve had it, as I mostly use this thing to mark dates on my calendar.

My dad is a fan of fountain pens, and I’ve seen him spend a lot of time keeping them pristine. This pen isn’t quite up to that standard, but I still feel a happy amount of pride seeing the thing look so nice.

Now compare that to the pencil:

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Talk about grungy and well-used. Pretty much the exact opposite of the pen.

It’s a perfect depiction of the difference in quality that comes from use, because I seriously use this sucker for everything. It’s worn down, with some of the metal finish scraping off throughout and the grip toward the tip starting to rust and smooth off.

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Even the back of the pencil is a shadow of its former self with an eraser that’s used completely down to the nub. I actually have to take the whole thing apart just to add extra lead into the thing.

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Compared to the pen, you might think that the pencil being in such a worn-down, kind of disgusting state would drive me crazy.

You’d be right, to an extent. There are moments where I get some raw spots on my fingers from the messy grip, which inevitably serves to leave my hand smelling like worn metal for a time.

Arguably there’s something to be said about my right hand just being a greasy mess. That’s probably the only explanation as to why the pencil would get to this point, and it’s a clear symptom of my overuse.

Yet I think the dichotomy between the pencil and the pen are part of what I’ve come to love about these things so much in the years that I’ve had them. Not only are they great utensils, reminiscent of a nice time in my life given their association with my high school graduation, but they also represent two sides of my psyche at some deeper level:

The somewhat OCD side that prefers to keep things clean; and the hard-working side that will keep working away at the same thing over-and-over until its worn-down and well-remembered.

Or perhaps I’m just putting too much thought into something otherwise negligible.

Who am I to say?

New Year, Fresh Room

Is it tacky to start off two blog posts in a row with the same kind of title?

While I’ve spent some time working on a few video game-themed posts today that I want to get out this week, I wound up taking a little personal detour. As we begin 2018, I figured why not start the year off right by straightening up my room?

Okay so this is definitely a weird set-up for something to write about, I’ll admit. But I’m not putting together because I want to write about cleaning my room necessarily.

Rather, I’m looking to use this post to fill the sort of secret third purpose of my blog. Outside of archiving my professional work and giving me a space to blather on about video games, I also like to think I’ll be able to one day use this place as a time capsule. You know, look back to see how things were or take inspiration from my past or… I don’t know, anything like that I suppose.

So, why not take a little look at my bedroom as it is now? After all, this point of my life is likely not too far away from the point where I’m going to wind up moving out on my own, abandoning it as a result.

If anyone is interested in seeing the place where I spend most of my time, I guess this is your chance to do so while I feel good about it looking nice. But if not, just know that this one is more for me.

So let’s start out with the place I see the most: My desk.

Overlooking my desk are some nice collectible posters of mine, which you’ll find are a frequent sight in this little tour. Super Mario Galaxy and the region maps for Kalos and Alola are the prime examples here.

There’s also a photo of my high school class up top, opposite the photo I have of my middle school class as a matter of fact. I was pretty proud of the way I laid that out when it first came about.

Some of the most notable things on my desk itself are a Kirby plush bought by my friend Jonathan in Japan and my Rowlet McDonalds toy next to the desktop computer I admittedly don’t really use. There’s also a four-star dragonball that Megan gave me for the holidays in 2016 when we were news editors together, a very dried out flower that I wore at my high school prom, a newton’s cradle that has some written out Pokémon team ideas on top and a piece of quartz that… I don’t remember where I got.

I just really like how it looks, honestly. So its been there for about as long as I can remember.

On the other side of the entryway in is my bed.

The bed itself obviously isn’t much to talk about, but above it are a number of posters and pictures and such. Among them are a map of the Hoenn region, an XKCD webcomic, a table of elements and a Terminator-inspired self portrait I drew for my high school art class.

Oh, and you can see the laundry room outside too.

Meanwhile, in the other corner…

Right now there are some more self-explanatory posters on the leftmost wall, but probably some more interesting things on display for the rest of the space.

I have my original Twilight Princess poster from an issue of Nintendo Power in 2016 – still arguably my favorite Zelda game I might add – and the Pikachu/Mimikyu picture I got for my birthday last year that’s usually up in the Newsroom is currently housed here.

Oh, and I have a signed photo of Yvonne Strahovski, who played Sarah in one of my favorite, seemingly somewhat underrated shows, Chuck.

Gotta go back and watch that again one of these days.

The floor space in that corner is also what I like to call “the piles of no return.” It’s more or less all of the binders I’ve used for different school subjects going all the way back to middle school. I say that I keep them around on the off chance I ever need the information inside again, but frankly I think I just don’t know what to do with it all since throwing it out would be a waste.

In my opinion at least.

Moving on, we get to to the next corner of my room, notably featuring my over-stuffed book shelf and the papasan that winds up being extra storage space rather than a seat more often than not.

From this angle, you can also see the orange hat I wore when I dressed as Willy Wonka for Halloween in 2016, the Porg I got as a secret Santa gift from my assistant Breanna this semester, a piece of artwork I bought of one of my favorite Pokémon Gym Leaders (Roxie, from Black 2 and White 2) and the second half of my school-year class photos. On the opposite side of the room as promised.

A little more interesting to me are some of the things hanging up on the wall here.

The Star Wars poster is pretty self-explanatory, it’s just a cool Star Wars poster.

The two hanging pieces of print, however, are special for their own reasons. The smaller one up top is the first article I ever wrote for the Daily Titan (about an upcoming ‘Pizza with the Presidents’ event) that was framed by my friend Lissete because she’s great. The one below it is actually my first major front page article for the Titan, a story about campus police preparedness following the San Bernardino shooting.

On the other wall, stuck to the closet door, is a painting my friend Tiana made for me showcasing my favorite Pokémon, Gardevoir. There’s a whole set that she made for each of my other friends in our little group too, which is pretty sweet. Above the closet is also also an award I got in 2014 for “Excellence in Newswriting” at a Journalism Education Association Write-Off Competition. Pretty cool stuff.

Oh, and I’m sure some people must have noticed the metal weapons hanging up on the jutting out part of the wall too.

Yeah… I don’t have too much of a story for these. Basically, I’ve been the Anime Expo a couple of times, and one of my favorite things to see there is the video game weapon re-creations with real metal.

So I got myself a Master Sword and a Keyblade. And they look dope.

Next up, around the room’s one window, are my main display sources.

These two pieces of furniture are combined drawer and display spaces, and are obviously part of a set with my desk that are some of the oldest things I own.

The main drawers, with my longtime backpack resting in front of it, has a couple of notable mainstay items, including a collector’s Tanuki Suit Mario figure wearing the special Mickey Mouse ears that I got during our senior end-of-ear trip there in 2015, my high school yearbooks and diploma and my Amiibo collection.

Because yeah, I have a bit of an Amiibo collection.

Don’t ask me how this got to where it is now, because frankly I’m not totally sure. I started with Smash Brothers Link, but enjoyed the display value enough that I kept it boxed, and eventually I got it in my head that I wanted to collect every single Smash Brothers Amiibo to make a nice set.

However, I have neither the space nor the resources to really do that, so for now it’s just a little wall of Amiibo that my sister likes to make fun of me for.

The T.V. cabinet and drawer space has a good amount of collectibles on top of it as well. I have a series of trophies from my time doing chess tournaments back in elementary school that are cool because they’re shaped like chess pieces, I have some goodies themed after my favorite mythical Pokémon Jirachi – including a cardboard art piece that I made in my senior high school art class, I have some Lego builds from some time ago of the Fallingwater building, Obi Wan Kenobi’s ship from the Star Wars prequels (Episode III namely) and of the Space Needle in Seattle.

The last one in particular fits in well with some of the other landmark/history-themed goods, like a model of the White House I picked up during a trip to Washington D.C. for a journalism conference some years back and a Ronald Reagan diorama of sorts dating way back to the days of a President report in elementary school. Still proud of how nice that one looks to this day.

There are a bunch of other things I like to keep out on display which mean a lot to me, but that piece of furniture is also where I keep my yearly calendar. Though I often wind up falling a week or so behind when it comes to changing the month over, it’s definitely helpful to keep it so close by in my main workspace so I can jot down important dates if necessary.

Plus, I always like to have something theming the calendar that keeps me happy. For instance, between 2017 and 2018, I went from this:

To this:

Because how can you ever be truly stressed out when you can just turn your head to the left and see some dogs being adorable?

That just about concludes my tour. I could probably go into more depth about a ton of little items strewn throughout the room, but that would honestly take forever.

I do have stories about a lot of stuff, so who knows. Maybe I’ll get to that another day.

Now, as a final note. Is this the silliest thing I’ve ever written about on my blog? Or the dumbest thing? I’ll leave that up to you likely few viewers out there to decide.

On top of that, as a side final note, if this is me from the future looking at this while going through a small nostalgia trip, I hope you enjoyed it most of all.

That said, I’ll catch everyone next time.

A serious nostalgia trip

A serious nostalgia trip

After arguably way too long after I teased it about nine months ago, I’ve finally put together a page archiving my journalism experience and writings from the four years I spent writing on my high school newspaper, The High Tide.

It took me a couple of days to look through every issue and pick out all of my work from all those years under the tutelage of our advisor Mitch Ziegler, but I’d say it was worth the effort.  Now I have the full breadth of my work and experience in one place, good for whenever I need to show my work experience or for whenever I want to take a trip down memory lane.

Seriously, going through everything brought me back quite a bit to all of the moments I spent pulling a story together, the moments I spent editing pages and all of the friends I made along the way – both on the paper’s staff and with a lot of the sources I talked to on campus.

It also reminded me of some apparently strange phases I went through as a blossoming writer.  There was at least a good couple of months where I wrote nothing but Pro or Con positions in arguments that I probably didn’t know nearly enough about to be qualified to write said arguments.  I also spent quite a bit of time writing for other sections before I realized my passion for news, as can be seen by a wide variety of (mainly features) stories toward the earlier years.

Also, I still remember being really proud of the silly ‘recycle this newspaper’ graphic that I had commissioned from one of our illustrators that got years of use and showed up in nearly every paper.  That thing was the best.

If you want to check out all my work on the High Tide for yourself, the link to my personal archive is over on the right, just below my Daily Titan archive.  I had to pull all the papers off of Issuu, so you have to go to the page the story is on manually.

The Benefits of Having Great Teachers

The Benefits of Having Great Teachers

Now that I’m a year into college, I feel I finally have enough of a gap between now and high school to reflect on my experiences there with a bit more substance to my thoughts.  Today my friend Tiana and I visited my alma mater, Redondo Union High School, and I got to see a bunch of teachers that I haven’t visited in probably close to a year – more due to constraints on my time rather than interest in going, as I would have loved to visit more often.

Though the visit was admittedly a little repetitive in that I was telling the same stories to each different person over and over when asked how college has been going so far, just the fact that I was asked so often really made me realize something.  As a student who really cares about school, both the general experience and the actual learning it entails, I found that I really made a lot of friends among the teachers and administrators at my high school.  The journalism facet of my life helped in this too, as I often found more reasons to ask about the diverse interests of those higher-ups, which helped me break a lot of barriers and find out a lot more about people than I would have otherwise.

In retrospect, this decision to try to get closer to my teachers and admins was really one of my best decisions I’ve made.  Having friends with those in higher positions of authority not only helped me do my job as a journalist, it also helped me find opportunities and get encouragement in my college-hunting endeavors and more.  Plus, now that I’ve graduated, these friendships have blossomed with even more benefits.

Today I sat with my AP Government teacher for close to an hour talking about my year in college, about his year teaching the class I once was a part of (which, by the way, sounded pretty exciting given the state of this year’s presidential election) and trading stories about how our college experiences have related to each other.  I talked with my old AP Psychology teacher – who recently mailed me a letter commemorating my first year of her class and out of school I might add – about my experiences and got some pieces of advise I never would have gotten as a student wholly ignorant to the college world.  My old art teacher, who still has a story I wrote in the school paper about her pinned on the wall, was very eager to take time out of her third period class to talk with me.  My old journalism advisor was extremely impressed and proud to hear that I managed to clinch an editor position on the Daily Titan as a second year student there.  I even talked with my Principal, who was actually my Principal throughout middle school and followed my class to high school as well.  We talked pretty often due to this long-term proximity and her general eagerness to talk with me whenever I needed an administrative perspective for a news story on the paper.  The list goes on and on.

Many of these people shaped my life for a long time, four years at least.  If not for them, I likely wouldn’t be where I am today.  Their classes made me more well-balanced and prepared for realistically intense workloads, their personalities made me happy to practice my interpersonal skills, and their friendliness helped me feel like I could always do more, always push myself to be better.  Even now that I’m objectively totally out of their lives, it’s obvious that I’m definitely not out of their minds when I visit them.  The fact that they all cared how my life was progressing on top of being more than eager to get more personal about their own lives and thoughts now that I’m not a student honestly feels wonderful, like I always have other family members to return to in a way.

Teachers are incredibly important.  I’ve always felt that way, but really I’ve come to appreciate that fact more than ever recently.  Some professors I’ve had in college so far have been amazing, others have made promising classes a really trying experience to endure.  They make or break not only individual classes, but interests in various subjects as a whole.  If there’s any advice I’d give to anyone who asks in relation to school, I’ll always tell them to connect to their teachers on a stronger level than they usually would with a “one year and done” mentality.  They can serve as more than just the cornerstones of learning and as sources of advice or expertise, they can serve as really phenomenal friends too.