Senior columns: Konopelko and Ibarra
May 10, 2019
Editor-in-Chief Nicole Konopelko and managing editor Ximena Ibarra reflect on their years of work for The Booster Redux and student publications, and say their final goodbyes.
Konopelko: Editor-in-chief reflects on three and a half years on student publications staff
For three in a half years, I’ve spent endless hours piecing the stories of this school into words.
Yet, piecing together this last one seems almost impossible.
This time, though, I don’t have an excuse. I can’t blame it on time. I can’t blame it on limited space. I can’t blame it on my word limit.
I can only blame it on myself. The truth is, ever since the beginning of the year, I’ve dreaded saying goodbye to The Booster Redux, and I can’t believe that my day has finally come.
Fortunately, you know something’s special when it’s this painful to say goodbye to it.
I joined The Booster Redux staff during the second semester of my freshman year as a shy freshman with a passion for writing, but an unfamiliarity with journalism. Our phenomenal adviser, Emily Smith, quickly taught me journalism 101 and directed me to award-winning work. Inspired, I teamed up with the staff’s best writers to cover class enrollment and the unbalanced lunch system, which administration reformed after my story printed.
As my passion grew, I delved into other skills aside from writing. I took videos and photos, designed pages and revamped our website, working my way up to the position of managing editor and ultimately, editor-in-chief.
When I think of the Booster Redux a few years from now, I’m not going to think about what it was like to say goodbye; I’m going to think of all the moments that led up to it.
I’m going to think of when I watched Brett Wiemers cheer for his brother, Tyson, as he crossed the finish line at the Special Olympics track race and earned a silver medal. I’m going to think of when I wrote the story of a homeless student who — after spending a night in a tent — knocked on the door of a foster care organization himself to find his own home. I’m going to think of when I shot photos of the soccer team’s final game in the rain as tears fell down the players’ eyes.
I’m also going to think of when — fueled on coffee — Ximena Ibarra and I stayed hours after school to finish editing our first print issue of the year, bonding over journalism to build a comradery that we would carry with us until the end of the year and into college.
As an outgoing editor-in-chief, I couldn’t be prouder of the risks we took to expand our storytelling, from cultivating our nationally-recognized online news site to building up our social media presence. Some things worked and some things didn’t, but the successes and failures were all a part of the process; a part of our mission to cultivate an informed student body.
Believe me, I don’t want to stop here. This school has so many more stories that I want to use my camera and pen to tell. Just as I could write a 1,000 word-long senior column, I could also write 100 more stories if I had enough time left in the year.
But unfortunately, I can’t. My time is up.
Thank you to my amazing staff for buying into my vision, listening to my feedback and producing phenomenal content. Thank you to my sources for every interview and every effort to help build my story. Thank you to Smith, for pushing me and exhausting every possibility to help me become a better storyteller.
I can only thank The Booster Redux for inspiring me to continue journalism in college and leading me to what I was born to do. I look forward to being a cheerleader from afar and can’t wait to watch the publication thrive.
Looking back, I don’t think this goodbye was as painful as I thought it was going to be.
Ibarra: Managing editor finds home throughout her two years on student publications staff
At the start of my junior year, I was unfamiliar to both the halls and classrooms of PHS. 604 quickly became one of the few places where I felt the most at home.
I began my journey in student publications as a photographer my junior year. Being behind the camera was not a concept entirely new to me, but writing never came easy to me.
My shift from photojournalism came late. My schedule needed to be fixed three weeks into the semester, so I landed, by pure luck, into the Booster staff.
The past two years have only helped me turn my weakness into a strength. I was quickly adopted into the family of writers on staff and was fortunate enough to work alongside some of the smartest people I know.
After a year of learning to storyboard, interview people and write articles, I became one of the managing editors on staff my senior year.
Parting ways with the Booster Redux feels premature. I wish two more years still hung in the horizon.
I wish to do more — more edits, more stories and more headline writing.
But despite dreading my final byline with this staff, I know the world outside of high school won’t be as intimidating because of the skills I’ve learned in both 604 and 314.
I look back on my portfolio with pride. Feeling the finished print product in my hands and seeing my articles published has been the most fulfilling feeling I’ve felt.
From my very first story, about the soccer players on the team whose immigration story varied to Ethan Weirdt’s story about thriving despite his battle with Hodgkin lymphoma, my words have given light to the students who, otherwise, probably wouldn’t have had their voices heard.
I will carry on Smith’s lessons both from Canvas and come-to-Jesus talks with me to college and beyond.
I hope the future generations of the Booster staff get to experience the importance of student journalism and learn the life lessons taught nowhere else in school.
My time in newspaper has felt short, but the opportunities I’ve had in this program are ones I’d never exchange for the hours of sleep I could’ve had.
Thank you for to all my mentors: both staffers and editors who graduated before me. You’ve been a lasting influence on who I am today.
Thank you Smith for being so much more than an adviser to everyone in student publications.
And finally, I will always be grateful for everyone on my current staff. Thank you for all the moments, both big and small, we’ve had together. It is because of these times that our newspaper is so amazing today, and will continue to prosper.