A new voice of my own

Reminiscing about my experiences with high school journalism


Julia Satterthwaite

The 2021-2022 El Estoque staff poses for a group photo at the end of my first late night.

Krish Dev

Logging onto Zoom for fourth period was far more daunting than I had anticipated. Not only was this class an entirely new experience for me, but it was also the day I had to make a crucial decision: choosing the story I wanted to write for the first time. To be completely honest, I wasn’t entirely sure how I found myself in this position — I only expected to be in El Estoque for a year — and joined Multimedia Design after my freshman literature teacher had enthusiastically recommended it as an opportunity to fulfill my visual and performing arts requirement for the UCs.

As it was my turn to say what I wanted to write, I found myself frozen, wanting to fall into the void of my black background. Fortunately, one of my editors, Michelle, rescued me from the awkward silence, suggesting we collaborate on writing a story about the new choir teacher. Although it wasn’t a subject that particularly sparked my interest, I agreed with a hesitant, “Yeah, sure.” 

Over the following weeks, Michelle guided me through the intricacies of the story-writing process, from finding sources and conducting interviews to writing drafts, receiving edits and ultimately publishing online. Looking back, the story we wrote together — A new voice — wasn’t one of my most impressive stories, not to mention Michelle had done most of the heavy lifting. Yet, I distinctly recall the gratification I felt when I first saw our story published on the website, and it was the first time I could genuinely envision myself being fully committed to journalism.

Beyond the satisfaction of writing stories I was proud of, I learned to develop a deep appreciation for the tight-knit El Estoque community, from playing Among Us as a bonding exercise and exchanging gifts at the end of the first semester to earning an El Estoquito award and leading as an editor for the first time. With each passing week, fourth period transformed into one of the highlights of my sophomore year.

During my junior year, in-person learning returned, and with it came new opportunities. Attending two late nights in October opened my eyes to print journalism as staff worked tirelessly to finish packaging the monthly magazine. With school sports games and local events opening up again, I decided to try photojournalism. I signed up to cover everything possible, arriving early to get situated and staying late for interviews. Motivated by the desire for self-improvement, I even created my own photography account, embarked on a daily photography challenge and later started sharing photos from events not featured on El Estoque as photography blossomed into one of my favorite hobbies.

Coupled with my new interest in photography, I gained more confidence in my interviewing and writing skills. Some of my best stories focused on the lives of different people, such as eight strangers I met while visiting New York, Ukrainian high schoolers at the start of the Russian invasion and MVHS community members celebrate Hanukkah. I also broadened my horizons by writing multiple stories in all five sections and set a personal goal to write 100 stories before graduating as a senior. Through interviewing and writing, I better understood my community and started appreciating the people around me.

As junior year came to an end, I was thrilled to be named one of the editors-in-chief for the 2022-2023 school year alongside Anna Jerolimov. Acknowledging the responsibility that came with the role, I worked to be inclusive and go the extra mile, helping out less experienced staff just as Michelle had done for me. Along with being a leader in class, I led a group in JCamp — a summer journalism orientation program — to produce a story about school resource officers and had the privilege to present at JEA NorCal Media Day at Palo Alto High School as well as at the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Convention in New York City. 

Being an editor-in-chief has been extraordinarily fulfilling, but as this past school year has come to a close, Anna and I passed the baton to three new editors-in-chief in April. In the final weeks of senior year, I have been a staff writer, a position I haven’t had in one and a half years. Watching writers who I have mentored get their chance to steer the ship and navigate around the rough waters I once faced has been bittersweet. While it is undoubtedly challenging to let go of my previous position, I have complete confidence in the incoming staff and can’t wait to see how they elevate El Estoque to new heights.

In the end, I never did reach 100 stories. Yet as I write my 86th — and final — one, I’m proud to say I look back with no regrets. The journalism classes I have taken have undeniably been the most meaningful part of my high school experience, and I’m grateful that through El Estoque, I have gained a new voice of my own.