Chloe Lewcock: NSPA Writer of the Year Portfolio

    Chloe Lewcock: NSPA Writer of the Year Portfolio

    I think there’s a certain expectation that comes with high school. You are expected to dedicate your four years to figuring out what you want to do with your future and find the things that make that possible. For me that was a daunting and seemingly impossible task. What I didn’t realize was that finding what I wanted to do with my future didn’t necessarily mean planning out every detail.

    I discovered my love of writing from a young age. I would wake up early on the weekends and make my mom a mini newspaper with events that revolved around my world, her world, and the community that surrounded us. My four-page folded printer paper newspaper that I titled the “Vanilla Times” would eventually blossom into the thing I committed my high school career to.

    I quickly realized my freshman year of high school that writing was something I needed to continue pursuing and my outlet for that turned into my school newspaper. While my four-page paper suddenly turned into a 32-page full-fledged issue, my love for it was unchanged.

    The community I was a part of with my school was vast and full of potential, or so I began to see, as my writing and journalism experience grew. My school was a small portal to this larger community I was a part of, and through my writing I was able to connect with it in a way I hadn’t been able to in any other way. Journalism as a whole has taught me that everyone has a story, you just have to go looking for it. While that message might be not be news, it has become the reason that I write. My job as a writer and as a journalist is to give people a voice, and show readers a part of a single person’s journey. There’s a beauty to writing that through journalism I have witnessed firsthand, and every time I get the opportunity to write something new, I think about how I get the chance to reveal a little bit more about the community I’m a part of.

    What makes this person different from the rest? How does this person make the community unique? It’s less about what a person does and moreso why they do it. My voice and my writing give others voices and that’s why I am a writer; that’s the basis of my everything this year, the discovery of others and of my community on a deeper level.

    Writing has become my safe haven. While there are moments where I’m unsure of what to write, moments where I have to close my computer because I’m stuck, all my experiences as a reporter and a writer have allowed me to grow as a journalist. My high school experience has been enriched through writing, and journalism has given meaning to figuring everything out one piece at a time. While my love for writing has been growing for years, I have finally gotten to a place where I get to give others a voice and write about something that’s truly important.

    Going the Extra Mile

    Getting to be a part of a high school paper has provided me a pivotal role in understanding the inner workings of my school community, but it’s also taught me the importance of taking opportunities to explore the world outside of it. In this story I was able to uniquely connect a part of McCallums past student base to Austin as a community as a whole. Carolina Arellano graduated McCallum in 2020 and through her journey, all the different parts of her life led to her passion for bike riding, and pursuing a project that inspired her to cross the country’s terrain on her bicycle. My interviewing and writing for this story proved to my reader and to myself that high school isn’t a one stop shop, and that all the different parts of someone’s journey lead to the bigger picture. This story taught me to not focus on a certain aspect of someone’s life when writing but to dig to a deeper level to understand how they’ve gotten to where they are. For Carolina Arellano, this proves true as different moments in her life led her across the country, as well as provided a foundation for what she hopes to pursue and accomplish in the future.

    Going the extra mile

    Klein experiments with new beginnings

    Throughout his teaching career Jace Klein looked to inspire others, help them through struggles in school, and be a small part in his students’ much larger academic lives. Through this piece however, with the introduction that Klein was leaving McCallum and his teaching career behind, I was able to take a bittersweet concept among the student body and focus on the “why” of Klein’s life. The specific choice to highlight both Kleins impact on the school through his teaching as well as his aspirations for the future allowed me as the writer to tie in different important elements of a person’s life and formulate the whole story. Through the interview process I was surprised to find a completely unseen story that I felt gave the piece voice in itself and gave me the opportunity to translate that voice to paper. This story showed me an essential backbone to journalism: you never know the full story, and there’s always more to a person than their façade.

    Klein experiments with new beginnings

    Writing songs back into McCallum’s history

    I think like many writers I have found a certain comfort in writing things I’m familiar with, however throughout this year I have been able to broaden my horizons and highlight pockets of my school community that normally wouldn’t draw me in upon first glance. That largely started with this story. With what started as a simple pitch about a songwriting class being offered at my school, something I felt there would be little story to, I was able to learn more about a teacher who seemingly did it all, and through this class wanted to give more to his students beyond what he was already doing. Frank Webster was the basis for this story and really allowed me to understand as the writer the why for this class. This piece taught me the importance of not shying away from small details, small ideas, or stories that may seem “boring.” Webster’s passion for songwriting and music in his own life came to life through the piece and allowed an understanding of both how the class came to McCallum, and why it was much more than just a new class showing up on choice sheets. This is one of my defining moments in journalism this year, getting the chance to understand how people’s choices and goals affect such a large number of people, and how it brings a different perspective to the story being written.

    Writing songs back into McCallum’s history

    Once A Knight Always a Knight

    One of the things I have gained this year as a writer is the ability to listen, and the importance of it. Connection is the basis of all stories that I create and this is a key example of that. From the very first line of this story I highlight an anecdote that Terrance Carson, former McCallum student and current McCallum dance co-director first talked about in our interview. As such a unique part of his story I felt it gave readers a hint into what makes Carson’s story special, as well as how the story I was laying out would develop. A lot of time I think it’s assumed that writers write chronologically, and while some of the time that certainly is true, there’s also a unique part of journalism that has allowed me to create a more unique timeline to my writing. Starting with an ending detail and then going back to the beginning of the story as I did in this case allowed me to present the story that Carson conveyed to me in the interview in a different way that I felt captured his emotion more. Throughout the interview I remember listening to him talking about how he ended up back at his high school alma mater and I was able to convey the importance of his story by creating a timeline and placing specific anecdotes throughout the story.

    Once a Knight always a Knight

    Murray Moves from Mac to Tacoma

    This as my very first story of the year was an essential moment in stepping out of my comfort zone, my writing rut, and my transition from staff writer to editor. As the beginnings of this story began in the summer it was an overwhelming feeling trying to navigate the writing process in a way I wasn’t used to given my main source had moved away and my only contact was via email. Interviewing for me has always been a nerve racking part of the story writing process only in the sense that it provides me the basis for understanding someone and without that connection the story is incomplete. When I realized this story would begin to form over time through email I had to learn to adapt to different conditions, and learn how important communication is no matter where it comes from. This piece of writing allowed me to step out of my usual interviewing comfort zone and learn about someone in an unconventional way. That change of pace allowed me to focus even more on what I was writing and who I was writing about.

    Murray moves from Mac to Tacoma

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