Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper

FHS Press

Pride in the Press

Editor-in-Chief reflects on three years with the FHS Press

Hannah Shumsky, Editor-in-Chief

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I still cringe when I think about my freshman year, as that time marked the beginning of high school stress, honors classes and learning how to get over the ever-popular “awkward middle school” stage; however, my freshman self made a decision that would shape the rest of my high school career.

I remember sitting in Mrs. Niedbala’s English class and receiving an envelope with “HANNAH SHUMSKY” written in blue ink. Inside, a letter contained my invitation to join Print Media Workshop (PMW), the course responsible for the FHS Press and Shawnee Yearbook. I looked forward to the monthly distribution day for the FHS Press and enjoyed reading student work, especially the features section, but this letter marked the day I committed to the class.

That fall, I became Assistant News Editor of the FHS Press, and I was thrown into a whirlwind of InDesign, AP Style, writing, deadlines and attending school board meetings. I learned the basics of news writing and layout, and I was ready for my role as News Editor the following year. I continued to challenge myself my junior year, reporting on school news for almost every issue that year.

Then, I decided to apply for Editor-in-Chief for my senior year. I believed that I had the necessary background in writing, editing and design through my PMW experience, and I was ready to combine those areas with the leadership skills I gained through band and student government. When I received the position, I was ecstatic for senior year, yet nervous for the tasks ahead of me.

The beginning of the year started strong with our September budget meeting, and I expected my position to consist primarily of answering questions and helping new PMWers with the world of writing, editing and design; however, after our first distribution day, I found a new purpose for my role. As EIC, my goal became to lead this staff, which became a family to me, to become the best we can be by helping each other and maintaining a positive attitude in order to make PMW one of the best experiences of our high school careers. While I have made close connections with former PMWers when I was a sophomore and junior, this year was the most unified I have seen PMW, and I am still amazed by this to this day.

Throughout the next few months, we continued to work hard to produce nine issues of the FHS Press. We celebrated each other’s accomplishments both inside and outside of PMW and supported each other through the rough patches of the school year. We became even closer as a family throughout this year, and I cannot be more grateful for all of the memories from this year. We were there for each other, whether that be through helping with edits, answering questions or even being a friend to listen when PMW or life was rough. This realization changed the course of my senior year, and I will always remember this idea and how it shaped the rest of my high school career.

So, Ava, Devin, Carly, Chance, Claudia, Danny, Jenna, Jess, Joey, Kayla, Kitt, Lexi, Melissa, Michael, Morgan, Myla, Olivia, Rachel, Robin, Sam, Sara and Siarra, I am incredibly proud of all of you and what we accomplished this year. Starting from the moment we sat down for our first budget meeting, I knew we were going to be a powerful, hardworking staff. You have proven this true every month, as we have published quality content time and time again. The awards and accomplishments we earned this year—including winning First Place with Special Merit in the American Scholastic Press Association’s annual review—just further proved our commitment to high-quality work.

Thank you all for all of the memories I will treasure from this year. I will miss these times we shared together, from our team-building trips, competitions, two-minute breaks and the end-of-the-month “Sailor Shumsky” days when I was scrambling to finish the paper. I looked forward to our classes, trips and time after school together, and I don’t know how I’m going to adjust to life without seeing you all every day.

However, above all, thank you for being a family to me. Even when I was stressed and upset by deadlines, senior year and life, you offered help when I needed it most. I genuinely cannot thank you all enough for all you have done for the Press and for me.

I hope that I did you all justice as your EIC, and I wish you all the best with the future of the Press. Continue to have pride in what you do, as student journalists have a commitment to this community: to report to the community so they are informed of what is happening in this district. Your job is incredibly unique, but also important, so continue to aim for high quality like you have done this year.

Additionally, maintain this thing we call a family, as there will always be a PMWer in need of help or a friend to support them. Your support can go a long way for another PMWer, so don’t forget your commitment to not only the Press, but each other. Remember: we’re PMWers; we stick together.

A special thank you goes to Mr. Fitzpatrick, my adviser and teacher for the past three years. Thank you again for answering my constant questions and emails, despite how annoyed I imagined you have gotten on most days. Thank you for spending hours on end after school with us as we laughed—or cried—while doing our PMW work, even when you could have went home at 2:45 p.m. each night.

Since the beginning of my sophomore year, you challenged me to learn more and do more, and I wouldn’t be the journalist or student today if it weren’t for your challenges and support. You even somehow managed to pull me out of my shell, as I went from being a reluctant student to a leader in a matter of three years. Your constant support and trust in me made me the stronger (and somewhat less awkward) person I am today.

Beyond this, thank you for being a friend. Even when I felt like my life was flooded with edits, InDesign and layout on top of honors and AP courses, band, the graduation project and the stresses of figuring out my own future plans, you were there to support me and tell me to take things one step at a time. You cheered me on in all of my endeavors, even those outside of room 226, and you were there to help me when I needed someone to listen to my rants on school, the future and life. I don’t think I could ever thank you enough for all you have done for me, but please know that you have had a true impact on my life, including my future plans to declare education as my college major.

Lastly, to the readers of the FHS Press, I thank you for your commitment to our work and student journalism. We are journalists with the mission to objectively inform you, the community, so you can be aware of district happenings and make informed decisions. We take these responsibilities seriously and with pride, and this staff will continue to uphold our mission and the core values of journalism as the communications department in Freedom grows stronger.

In a matter of days, I will be walking across the stage to receive my high school diploma, formally marking the end of my time at Freedom and the beginning of my future at Slippery Rock University. While I’m ready to move on from 7:50 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. school days and Beaver County, I’m hesitant to be excited to graduate because of my pride in our work. We have come a long ways since my first issue in September 2014, and I’m sad that I won’t be around to see this staff continue to improve.

Staff, it’s been a true honor to lead such fantastic group throughout nine issues of the FHS Press. I still find it hard to believe that I went from being this socially-awkward sophomore to a confident leader, and I have my experience with the Press and the staff to thank. I will forever be proud of my 42 articles published in the FHS Press; however, I am even prouder of what this staff accomplished within 140 pages this year.

While it’s time for me to say goodbye to my position on the staff, I will continue to have pride in the FHS Press, PMW and what Freedom can accomplish with an amazing group of students leading the way.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper
Pride in the Press