An Article of Articles: Looking Back on My Career as a Lion Reporter

John Srouji

As a freshman who had not yet interviewed any seniors the whole year, I was definitely a bit nervous about doing that...

I have finally come to the end of my high school experience and sadly that also means the end of my time in Newspaper class. Every year I took the class, Newspaper has been my favorite class. I have made lifelong friends and memories I will never forget. I have also been able to see my writing and interviewing skills improve over my three years taking the class. I have written a total of 40 articles. In this article, I have ranked EVERY single article I wrote and published as my final reflection on the class.

40. Driving Simulator
My driving simulator article earns the bottom spot on this list for a variety of reasons. Before I get into them, I think I need to explain what exactly this article was all about. Essentially for a few days junior year, there was a driving simulator in Kilpatrick Stadium. You climbed into a fake car, and you used the wheel, gas, and brakes to simulate the driving experience on a screen. Then, the instructor would tell you to get on your phone and do distracting things. And when you would do this, you’d run into a building or hit a cat. Basically, it was meant to raise awareness of the effects of distracted driving. It was a great idea, I just didn’t put it into an article very well. For one, the article wasn’t finished until WEEKS after the simulator was long gone. Second, the photo I used was an extremely close-up picture of the car to the point where you couldn’t even tell what you were looking at. I’d definitely say this was my worst work

39. Swimming and Diving (Freshman Year)
This article was from my freshman year. I love swimming, but when I had to write an article about it...that love did not follow. It was just a really awkward experience for me as a freshman. It was my first year on the swim team and when I went to go interview my coach Nolan Morris, I had to ask him questions like “What are practices like?” and “How has the team done?” as if I had never even been on the team. The end product was an article barely a page long. In the following years, I decided to let other people take over the swimming articles.

38. How to Not Get Bored During Quarantine
This was one of those articles I wrote with the sole purpose to get up to the three article minimum for the quarter. In this article, I wrote about what my family had been doing towards the beginning of quarantine to keep from being bored and gave other ideas for fun things to do while stuck at home. I’ll be honest, I didn’t put much effort into this article and I wouldn’t recommend reading it.

37. In the Kitchen: Cookie Cake
During the spring semester of junior year, I started a new baking column. As someone who had never baked before in their life, this column was very hit or miss from article to article. This one was a miss. The cookie cake was made for my mom’s birthday and the cake itself honestly turned out well. However, when we began to write happy birthday in frosting over the cake, it all went downhill. You can read the article to find out how. Or don’t (there’s a reason it's this low on the list.)

36. Lacrosse (Freshman Year)
My lacrosse article from spring semester of freshman year was also not great. This was a joint article I wrote with another freshman (not sure why we did that) and even with two writers, it did not go too well. Some interviews for this article never happened, some refused to be interviewed, and others just went terribly. 

35. The Beat: Kid Krow
Honestly, this article was not bad. I am just upset with how I formatted it and I am not as big a fan of the album as I originally was. In this article, I wrote about Conan Gray’s 2020 album, Kid Krow. I ranked each song, which was different from how I had reviewed albums in the past and I do wish I had stuck with the format I had used in my other album review articles.

34. Cross Country (Junior Year)
I did not enjoy this article, that’s the only reason it’s this low. Overall, I would say it was good, but I don’t look back on it very fondly. I also learned from my interviews that many cross country runners secretly hate the sport and had to exclude that information from the articles. I think the reason for my hatred of this article was because of my interview with the coach when I had to go to the track for the interview and wait fifteen minutes for the interview to start. 

33. The Little Mermaid
At this point, I think we are out of the “bad” articles section. I am proud of what I did with the interviews I held for this article. What I’m not proud of is that I only had two interviews for the article when I for sure could have done a lot more. I did interview the leads of the musical, so there’s that, but there were no interviews with the directors, stage managers, or members of the ensemble.

32. Boys Basketball (Junior Year)
This is once again an article that was okay, but the interview process was frustrating. I did this article towards the very end of the first semester of junior year and I did not start until after exams had started. Because of this mistake of mine, I was left to do all of my interviews at a time when people were not at school every day. I am satisfied with my work following the interviews, but it’s just the actual interviews that I was not proud of.

31. Football (Senior Year)
This article followed the same sort of trend from other sports articles I have written about. Bad interview process, good writing process. For most of these interviews, I just went up to random football players and asked to interview them. I probably should have asked the coach who would be good to interview, but instead, I was just focused on getting the interviews done so I interviewed whoever I saw. 

30. In the Kitchen: Brownies
I look back on this article with fond memories. I remember the brownies tasting very very good. They were definitely one of my greatest results of the “In the Kitchen” series. The only downfall was the timing of this article in the height of Covid fears and my inability to go to the grocery store to get brownie ingredients as opposed to brownie mix. 

29. McDaniel SGA
This article was written about the 2020-2021 SGA President, William McDaniel. It was meant to showcase his plans for the year and let people get to know him through a few personal questions. This was a well-done article, but it could have been done much better if I wasn’t as tired as I was during the interview. The interview happened in the morning before school started and I remember not getting much sleep the night before, leading to my interviewing skills being a bit subpar.

28. Taking Notes
I’m not sure if this article even ended up getting published. It was from freshman year and it was about the different ways we take notes in school, either paper or laptop. I have very little memory of this article at all, so I think #29 is probably a good spot for it to go.

27. Creative Writing
Here’s another freshman year writing article that I have no memory of writing. This one probably did get published, given it’s placement in the “done” folder of my google drive. I reread the article and it's a good two and a half pages. I’m proud of what I wrote in this article for sure, I just wish I had some sort of specific memory to go with it so I could rank it higher on this list. 

26. Cross Country (Freshman Year)
This was a good article, but I have a confession to make. This is very embarrassing, but instead of doing interviews for this article, I sent out a survey to everyone on the team and asked them to answer interview questions. Yeah. Not proud of it. I was a freshman and I think this was my first article ever, so I think that gives me an excuse. And after this article, I never did that again. The reason for it being this high on the list is because I wrote nearly three pages for this article.

25. In the Kitchen: Lemon Pie
The lemon pie article was one of my better “In the Kitchen” articles. The process for making the pie went great, the pie itself was delicious, and the end result was a pretty good article. I think this was actually my first article in the column, so it gets bonus points for that as well.

24. Girls Basketball (Junior Year)
At this point in the article list, I would say we have reached the point of “good” articles. These are ones that I would say were all done well, it's just that some were better than others. I’d say this girls basketball article was the most painfully average article. It was good and accomplished what it needed to, but there was really not anything special about it. I interviewed two players and a coach, which is exactly what I was supposed to do, but I wish I had maybe gone a bit further. 

23. Among Us
This article was written senior year. I am proud of the result, a two-page article about the popular game, Among Us. Unfortunately, despite many warnings by Mr. Newman, I did not start the article until much of the craze had died down. The students I interviewed all said that they had moved on to playing different games, which ended up making the article a little worse than it could have been, but I take full responsibility for that.

22. New Laptops
Towards the beginning of this year, we got new laptops for the first time in my time in high school. This was a major development for me and I decided to take on an article about it to discover what the process for getting new laptops is and where the old ones go. This article ended up being a good two full pages with plenty of interviews from people with a variety of different perspectives. I also interviewed the head of IT who gave me his inside information into the process of getting new laptops and distributing them to the students.

21. Almost Maine
My article on this spring’s play, Almost Maine, is probably the best theater article I have written. I managed to interview three different actors/actresses and had a really great interview with the director. It ended up being only a page and a half, but the material in that page and a half was some of my best work.

20. Complexity Point
The complexity point article was another article I wrote this spring. This article was about the complexity point on AP World DBQ rubrics. Throughout the year, I have been one of two seniors taking AP World, so I had a unique perspective and hatred of the complexity point. This allowed me to end up writing a pretty decent article where I interviewed all AP World teachers and a student who had earned the point on their most recent test.

19. Taylor Branch Q&A
This article was only a Q&A, but I am ranking it this high on the list because I am proud of the process I went through to finish the article. Firstly, I volunteered to interview this guy as a freshman who had much less experience than some of the upperclassmen. I am also proud of how the interview went. The experience made me pretty nervous, but I made it through with a great interview and article.

18. In the Kitchen: Cookies
This was a really funny article to write. These cookies that I baked and brought into school the next day ended up with some mixed reviews. Some people claimed to love the cookies and others (Newman and Mary Grace) were honest about their dislike for my cookies. They gave me advice on how to improve my cookie-making skills and I included their advice in the article.

17. Quarantine TV
I was surprised at how well this article turned out given that it was another one of those articles that I wrote last minute as my final article for the quarter, but through many interviews, this ended up as a pretty great article about shows people had been watching during quarantine. I even started some new shows based on the suggestions people gave to me during their interviews.

16. Football (Junior Year)
In my junior year football article, I did what I hadn’t done senior year. I interviewed the coach first and then asked him which players I should interview. This allowed me to get in some really great interviews with players that Coach Muschamp had told me had made great improvements and progress that season.

15. Soccer (Junior Year)
For this article, I do have to give a lot of credit to the people I interviewed. The interviews I had for this article all went really great and because of that I ended up with plenty of material to go off of to make a full and complete sports article. 

14. Outdoor Experience
This year, in the absence of JOE, I and a few friends decided to go camping. None of us had much camping experience and the temperature for that night was supposed to get down to twenty degrees so we were very afraid. Nonetheless, we made it through the night and that gave me some great experiences to write about in this article. In the article, I went through the entire process from getting ready to go to the campsite, to our final trip from the campsite back to the car to warm up.

13. Car Talk
I had a great time writing this article and doing this interview with Senior Henry Haden. I learned a lot about a passion of his and a topic that I really did not know too much about beforehand, cars. I have always loved the articles where I am able to learn more about a topic that I previously had not been interested in. Henry really let his passion shine through during his interview which allowed me to produce an article that accurately depicted Henry’s love for cars.

12. Furniture
This article probably would have been a bit higher on the list if I had ever actually finished it. I spent a lot of time doing interviews, researching, and writing this article, but in the end, it got lost in the mess of freshman year. From writing this article I learned about how Lovett gets the furniture it has, where it comes from, and the reasoning behind the different furniture styles around the school.

11. Climate Change
My climate change article was another one that probably could have been higher on the list if I had not abandoned it. I wrote this article during my junior year following the climate strike run by then seniors where a good number of students wore green instead of their uniforms to send a message to Lovett that the student body wants a more sustainable school. This strike led to a variety of things, including lots of detentions and a few controversial social media posts. I wish I had stuck with this article and finished it, but sometimes things just don’t get done.

10. SGA President Pierce
I’m definitely not trying to compare the quality of SGA presidents by ranking my article on Pierce higher than my article on William. They were both equally great presidents and people. The difference between the articles though is that during my interview with Pierce, I was much more engaged and energetic, leading to a better interview. This was primarily just because during my interview with William, I was tired from the night before. From the interview, I learned a lot about Pierce and why he chose to become the 2019-2020 SGA president.

9. Volleyball (Senior Year)
The volleyball article from this fall takes the cake as the best sports article I have written. I was really driven to write this article as well as I could and made it a goal to interview every senior on the team. I ended up with four interviews including one with the coach. All of the girls I interviewed were super passionate about the sport which also helped me to include some great quotes. 

8. Fortnite
This one is kind of funny. Looking back on it now, it’s kind of embarrassing to have written this article, but looking at it objectively, I would say it’s one of my best. I can very specifically remember Mr. Newman pressuring me to talk to a senior for this article. As a freshman who had not yet interviewed any seniors the whole year, I was definitely a bit nervous about doing that, but Mr. Newman encouraged me to do it. Even though the senior interview only accounted for one sentence out of the whole article, I ended up with much more confidence in my ability to hold interviews with people older than me and in general people that I don’t know too well.

7. End of the Decade
This was a really nice two-and-a-half-page article I wrote as we moved from 2019 into 2020. I wrote about some things I believed we should be leaving behind in the new decade and some things we should probably keep with us. I also included some interviews towards the end. Overall, I ended up with one of my better articles and one that looking back on is a bit humorous… I had no idea what 2020 actually had in store for us.

6. New Students
For my new students article, written junior year, I interviewed four students brand new to Lovett. Two new juniors, a new sophomore, and a new freshman. I learned a lot about these students, their stories, and also how they were feeling about Lovett so far. I ended up getting a variety of different responses and some really great quotes to use in the article. This was one of my longest articles and I’m definitely proud of the work I put into it.

5. Holiday Songs
My holiday songs article, ironically published after the holidays, was one of my all-time favorites to write. I absolutely love writing about music and sharing my passion for music with others, so I found my music articles to be really fun and exciting to write. This one in particular had a pretty unique concept. I had been listening to a lot of holiday music that winter that just didn’t have the typical holiday feel to it, and so that gave me the idea to write “8 Unconventional Holiday Songs for the Holiday Season.” 

4. Handwriting
My number four article comes from freshman year. Freshman year, my writing skills were not as good as they are today, but when it came to working hard, freshman year shines through. I had ELEVEN interviews for this article. I don’t even know how I did that (or why), but yes, it happened. I even remember going all around Lovett’s campus looking for people to write out their names on a sheet of paper to create a photo for the article showcasing the variety in Lovett students’ handwriting. I am definitely proud of this article and will remember the writing and interviewing process.

3. Library Books
Junior year, I wrote one of my longest articles, “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover,” in which I did the opposite. I got suggestions of books with interesting covers from Ms. Martin and wrote about what I thought the book might be about based solely on its cover. After providing my guess, I looked up summaries online and compared my guesses to the actual plot of the book. I’m not much of a bookworm, so I was surprised that I took on this article to begin with and also that it turned out so well. 

2. Folklore
My article on Taylor Swift’s surprise quarantine album, Folklore, was my longest article by far with six full pages of work. In this article, I went through every song in the album, highlighted a lyric or two, wrote about what the song meant, and gave it a rating out of ten. Yes, this was an exhausting process, but I also had a lot of fun writing it. I was especially proud of myself for sticking with this article even when it began to get longer and longer. There were many times when I felt like I was just too tired to keep going on an article that was already four pages long, but my classmates and Mr. Newman encouraged me to finish, and so I added in those last two pages and ended up with some of my best work from the class.

1. Apples
In my freshman year, I developed a bit of an obsession with the apples Lovett laid out for students during breaks. I never had eaten them during middle school, so these apples were a new discovery for me. Soon enough, my teachers all throughout high school would come to remember me for how many apples I ate. During the spring of my freshman year, I decided to take on an article where I wrote about how Lovett gets their apples. This morphed into me actually visiting the farm the apples come from and selecting my own apples from the farm to taste test and write about. Writing this article was a really fun experience because I got to taste all sorts of apples AND write about them. 

This article itself has gotten a bit long and it may have actually dethroned my article on Folklore as my longest article, but it’s not over yet. I have grown so much as a person through taking newspaper, which I simply would have never guessed when I applied to the class in 8th grade. The class taught me how to have confidence in myself and not be afraid to talk to people I don’t know. It taught me to push through and finish hard work even when it got exhausting. It also provided me with my favorite group of people on Lovett’s campus. For years we talked with each other about our personal struggles, achievements, and values. We learned so much about the human experience through philosophical discussions and talks about our futures. I’m truly going to miss all of our time spent together. 

In my 8th grade letter to my graduating self, I left a section of checkboxes for me to complete when my senior year had come to an end. The letter came in earlier this week and I had completely forgotten about what I had written, but on the back, there was the checkbox section and one of them read “Was newspaper a good class?” Reading that forced me to reflect on just how good of a class it was. It wasn’t just a good class, it was the best class I had taken in my entire seven years at Lovett. 
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