At the beginning of this school year, I was asked to speak at a few schools about the annual Journal Student Writing Project, now in it’s 23rd year.
The Journal Student Writing Project offers an opportunity for high school students to sharpen their writing skills, pick their topics of interest, and share their ideas and talents with readers of the Fillmore County Journal in print and online. Every year, we have around 10 to 20 students participate in the program from high schools all throughout our newspaper coverage area spanning Mower County, Fillmore County, and Houston County. The program runs from October to June of each school year.
While I was speaking with students at Chatfield High School about the program back in October 2021, I brought up an article that a student writer authored back in 2019.
On December 2, 2019, we published Makayla Braaten’s writing contribution titled “Is graffiti art or vandalism?”
When I have spoken to students possibly interested in participating in the Journal Student Writing Project, I have been mentioning Makalya’s piece.
Since her article was published in 2019, her writing contribution has received 40,857 page views and 48 comments on www.fillmorecountyjournal.com. Her article is currently ranked as the fifth most visited article on our website. That’s kind of a big deal, from our perspective. Something she should be proud of.
Makayla’s article has attracted attention all over the globe. She has created engagement with audiences near and far.
So, what gets published in the Fillmore County Journal is also shared online with the rest of the world. Our readership is a world wide audience.
And, this is important for our student writers to understand, because what they say matters.
Another student writer who created her own legacy in this newspaper is 2019 Fillmore Central High School graduate Maddie Smith. While writing for the Journal Student Writing Project, she asked if there was anything else she could do as it related to writing for the newspaper. We truly appreciate any student who wants to be a part of what we’re doing at the newspaper, so we asked Maddie if she would want to write feature stories. She did a fantastic job. After she graduated high school, she asked if she could continue to write for the newspaper. We collaborated on the idea of promoting a farm to table concept. With her background in agriculture and her leadership initiatives with the Future Farmers of America, it was a natural fit. Maddie helped us launch a weekly “Agriculture News” feature. She is the type of person who asks, “How can I help?”
For Maddie, and others like her, that approach will take you places in life.
It’s inspiring to see students inspire others with their writing. And, along the way, they can create their own opportunities for growth.
What these student write matters to our local readers, but also someone searching the Internet for a topic similar to what their subject matter is.
I commend all of our Journal Student Writing Project contributors, past, present, and future. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there before a large audience. But, as I have told many students, the more you write, the better you will become. And, you will probably look back on some of your earlier work and say I would have written that differently today based on how I write or based on my life experiences.
It’s all part of a growth journey in life.