I was lost when I got to Crescenta Valley High School as a 9th grader. My friends from junior high wanted to be popular. They soon realized hanging out with me was not going to get them there. I didn’t have any real friends, only girls I stood next to during snack and ate with during lunch so I would not feel like a loner. My grades suffered. I got my first and only D in typing (yes, typing was a class in the late 1980s) because I was chronically tardy. I was not connected to anyone at school and drifting into invisibility.

Then journalism happened my junior year. Because I thought I needed an extracurricular activity for college applications, I applied and was accepted to be part of the journalism staff. It was a yearlong class and every two weeks, we wrote all the articles and literally cut and pasted together the school newspaper. My life changed after joining journalism.

Yam (short for Ms. Yamaguchi) set high standards for good writing and she treated us like people…not teenagers. She told us stories about her life and she knew each of our stories as individuals. If there was a love crisis or family drama, we told Yam. I ate lunch in the journalism room, I stayed hours and hours after school in that room especially if we were under deadline. I was part of a team. Many classmates became good friends, and together we produced a real product every two weeks. I learned to appreciate working hard and feeling proud of what we accomplished. Read the rest of this entry »