Why I will miss writing for the Spartan Shield


Jonathan Sulgrove

Editor-in-Chief Ingrid Hofmann previews suggestions to improve her article for the week.

Jonathan Sulgrove, Opinion Editor

As the semester wraps up, so does my time helping to manage the Spartan Shield Online. I find myself disappointed this week is the last, but I am also thankful for the time I got to spend working as a team in this class.

It has been four years since the birth of the Spartan Shield Online. At the end of this semester, there will have been nine semesters of students writing for our award-winning news site, as well as more than 3,600 articles published in that time.

However, the print version of the Spartan Shield was first published in 1963. Students at Pleasant Valley have been writing articles for 57 years, publishing six to eight newspapers a year.

I am only one student. I have published around 20 articles and have edited an additional 60 or more. When compared to the other numbers, my time here seems like just a blip in the history of the Spartan Shield Online, let alone the Spartan Shield as a whole. It will seem even more insignificant as time goes on and more students come and go.

But I know better than that. Each and every student who has completed this class has made an important contribution to society. And thanks to the internet and search engines, articles will not be left to ‘collect dust.’ I mean, just look at the Simp vs. Chad quiz we published last semester; it still gets more than a thousand views each week.

Maureen Dyer, the teacher, advisor and creator of Honors Journalism, had this idea of publishing students’ work in mind when pitching the idea for the class. “After being here for a couple of years and seeing the great writing talent so many students possess, I wanted to find an avenue for such students to publish their work, while also gaining some hands-on professional experience,” she said.

There is a lot more to the class than that, though. Honors Journalism provides a new challenge to talented high school writers and allows for collaboration and learning from peers.

Spartan Shield Online Editor-in-Chief Ingrid Hofmann agrees. “I love honors journalism because it is such a different style of writing and english class,” she said. “The class is so self-sufficient and collaborative, and it is truly amazing to see the publication that students are able to produce while working with each other, especially this year.”

Dyer noted Hofmann grew throughout the semester not only in her writing, but also her leadership skills. “So many of PV’s students are capable of and ready for a chance to be leaders,” Dyer said.

“This course allows for… a unique opportunity for students to become leaders, to get a glimpse into the real world, to gain responsibility and to learn more about what’s going on in the world around them,” she continued.

I feel like I have really grown as well. Originally, when we submitted our applications for the top three jobs we wanted, I was hoping to become the multimedia manager or a copy editor. I ended up as the opinion editor, my third choice.

At the start, I was disappointed in the assignment I was given. I did not feel like I had the best skills for the job, nor did I have a particular desire to do it. 

But around week two or three of editing articles, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the position. Although my organizationally-minded brain impels me to also copy-edit the articles I review, I appreciate being able to work with students on developing strong opinions to make an impact on readers and possibly earn them a Best of SNO (School Newspapers Online) award.

After the first quarter, I volunteered to become a lead editor alongside my other job, enabling me to edit even more articles, yet increasing my workload significantly.

I do not mean to say that in a negative way; I chose to take on extra work because I enjoy it. I enjoy helping others improve their writing, and I enjoy learning from what they write about. Everybody has a unique perspective of the world, and I get the chance to discover new statistics, new information and new arguments for or against a certain topic.

The challenge of editing opinion articles only adds to my love of the experience. There are quite a few amazing writers in my class who enjoy writing about political topics, and being able to understand the reasonings and thought processes behind certain opinions really helped me get a better grasp of why people think what they think.

It was not just editing students’ work that I loved – it was also being able to interact with my peers. Two or three times, I sat down with them virtually for around an hour just discussing how to improve an opinion or come up with a glamorous title. Being able to share in their frustrations and successes filled me with joy.

I was able to focus on my writing too. Even though I have not received a Best of SNO award myself, I have found different ways to improve my writing with the help of other students.

I am so thankful for Honors Journalism. It offered me a way to show the world what I can write. It provided me a way to voice my views. It gave me a way to befriend and work with other students I may not have known otherwise. It challenged me in a way that helped me grow in my writing. I will miss these opportunities.

And for the students who have not utilized an opportunity like this, do it. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Chances like these do not come often. Take the leap.