I, Dalton Lewis, was a high school reporter. No, I didn’t solve any murders or win any Pulitzers, but I had a pretty good time at it. I remember in ninth grade knowing that I wanted to be a writer. My mom sat down with me to determine what classes I would take in the fall. We looked at journalism class, and my mom said that it would help my writing.
I walked into a room which was actually two rooms in one: in one room we had a traditional classroom with six to eight tables and room for two to three people at each table. We had a chalkboard to write on. In the other room we had eight or so computers in a row and several printers. Someone walked up to the front of the classroom half and started to teach. It was one of the students. The students taught the class. We wrote the various sections of the newspaper on the board and had the students list out all the articles that we would include and then decided who would do what article. I had the article on school construction first.
This was the first time a student was allowed to do anything adult for me. I thought that this was the greatest thing, a class run by students. We had a teacher, sure, but she let us do the work and taught us how to run ourselves. We didn’t have a teacher in front of the classroom, giving us another lecture about how reality is different from how we perceived it.
Regrets — I should have majored in journalism in college. I deeply regret majoring in English Literature, which taught me no life skills, and Japanese Language and Literature, because I forgot my Japanese right after finishing college. I also didn’t work hard enough at memorizing words and phrases to become fluent in the language: I did just enough to get by. I should memorize more facts and learn more: instead I just get by with learning the minimum.
Back to journalism class in high school. We had to write articles about the school and issues that the school faced. I was a cub reporter trying to report on the issues. There was a union at the school facing off against the superintendent over how much they would get paid. There was construction at the high school to report about — stuff like that.
There were issues to talk about, too. We did articles on drug use and the students, and we reported a bunch of guns being at the school, too. We reported on cultural events like reviewing books or movies. I met those people, and though I don’t talk to them any more I know that they were important people to me a long time ago, and I value that.
The teacher who taught us all this? Let’s call her Eve. She believed in letting us do things in the real world. She took us to a convention for journalism each year in a city far away from Chicago. We learned to go into the real world and try real things. She advised instead of ordering. She was probably one of the two best teachers I ever had — and I had a lot of great teachers.
We won best in show one year. I remember that no one from our school had bothered to go to the boring awards ceremony but me. I picked up the award — the only I’ve ever gotten — and gave it to Eve and showed her proudly that, for once, we were the best at something. I won’t forget that.
Thanks, and take care, friends.