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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Senior Reflection: Amanda Johnson

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As I sit struggling with what to write for this senior reflection, my thoughts move toward my unorthodox journey on The Feather over the past two years. I joined The Feather in Fall 2021, after some gentle (and not-so-gentle) encouragement from my friends Taylor Beckworth, ‘23, Summer Foshee, ‘23, and Aubrey Graham, ‘23, the previous year. My time with the team has been a whirlwind ever since. 

[/media-credit] The Feather is led by a team of six editors, all of whom are graduating seniors.

I went to school Aug. 12, 2021, sat down in The Feather lab with photojournalism adviser Kori James, journalism adviser Greg Stobbe and the rest of the class, and received an introduction to the team. Immediately after, I unexpectedly missed over three weeks of school. 

The week I returned, still with no training, was the week of Homecoming. Ask anyone on The Feather and you learn Homecoming is the busiest week of the whole year. Despite being three weeks behind on training, Stobbe volunteered me for the “simple” task of interviewing students and alumni at Friday night’s football game. It was completely nerve-wracking. But I got it done. I consider that night as my first foray into journalism. 

I feel it is important to note that when I signed up for the team on my class registration form at the end of my sophomore year, I checked the box for photojournalism. A photojournalist is obviously not what I became, and I could not thank God more for that. 

[/media-credit] As a training exercise my second semester junior year, James had me interview Mark Standriff for an article in front of the class.

Stobbe recruited me to his journalism team but left before the end of the semester due to medical issues. This put James in charge of the whole team, including all the journalists – that is when my leadership path began. 

By the end of the first semester, James charged Emma Calderon, ‘23, and I to help her with the journalism team. In Spring 2022 the two of us, with three months of experience, got promoted to Senior Editors. On the last day of junior year, James promoted us to the 2022-23 Feather team’s co-Editor-in-Chiefs. 

Speaking for myself, this past year as Editor-in-Chief really changed me. The year carried with it stress, uncertainty, intimidation, but also encouragement and gratification and pride. There is nothing I would do differently if it meant I ended up anywhere else.

Throughout my time on The Feather, I spoke to and told the stories of students, staff, school leaders, veterans, professionals and city leaders. All these experiences shaped me into the person writing this now – someone with confidence in myself and faith that I am ready for this next part of my life. 

The first article I ever wrote was a profile on Rachel Moate, ‘23, and her online jewelry business. I thought it would be simple for a first project, but instead I realized that nothing in journalism is ever truly simple. There is always a deeper story, as Stobbe continually told me throughout the writing process, and as a journalist it is your responsibility to find it. 

Fast forward a year from that moment, and I am researching for an article about fentanyl in the Fresno area and beyond. Due to that article, I received the opportunity to interview prominent figures in our community, including District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp and Police Chief Paco Balderrama

[/media-credit] To research for my Fentanyl article, I interviewed Lisa Smittcamp, Paco Balderrama, Patil Armenian and Jeremy Brown.

I dedicated three months of my life to that article (and the subsequent podcast with Graham), because I knew it was a story that needed to be told and I felt passionate about the subject. That, at its core, is what journalism is – writing about something you feel strongly about and using your words to impact your audience.

I could never accomplish or learn any of this without The Feather. And I am beyond thankful for the people who supported me along the way. 

I want to thank adviser Kori James, who trusted me and gave me more opportunities than I ever imagined possible. Thank you for taking me under your wing in the midst of chaos and taking a chance on me to lead The Feather. The leader – the person – I am today is a credit to your mentorship and training.

I want to thank Emma Calderon, for being my partner in crime these past two years. There is no one else I would choose to do this with, and I can not wait to see where you go from here. I hope the mark I made on your life is as great as the mark you made on mine. 

[/media-credit] During the most recent NSPA journalism conference, Kori James allowed Elise Bessey and I to assist her in teaching a session on media packaging in articles.

I want to thank my fellow seniors on The Feather, whether they were on The Feather one year or four or somewhere in between, for always giving their all to this team. I especially want to thank Photo Editor Taylor Beckworth, video and photojournalist Elise Bessey and Creative Editor Summer Foshee. They supported me in my highs and lows, helped me no matter what and even let me vent when things got to be too much.  

To the 2023-24 Feather team, I give encouragement. It might not be easy to do what we do – actually, it is really, really hard sometimes – but I believe it to be one of the most rewarding experiences at Fresno Christian. Never before have I felt the same sense of accomplishment as when I published my first article. Or been more proud to be a part of this team than when we worked together to create something meaningful. 

So, here is my task for you – take advantage of every opportunity provided to you, push yourself out of your comfort zone and grow as a person, as a team. You will see the effects of what you do in and out of the walls of this lab, whether it happens in the moment or years down the line. Trust me.

Down below is a podcast recorded by Emma Calderon, Summer Foshee and I about lessons we learned from being on The Feather, as well as advice for those thinking of joining.

I walk down the stage after receiving my diploma and leave this campus forever, at least in the capacity I am familiar with, May 25. From there, I move on to the next chapter of my life.

I am enrolled at Clovis Community College for the Fall semester, starting Aug. 7. There I continue my education, hoping in two years to eventually transfer to Biola University and become involved in filmmaking, specifically screenwriting and directing.

And even though I am happy to reunite with the Oxford Comma, I will forever miss this team and this lab and this class. I can not wait to see what you all accomplish from here. 

Signing off,

Amanda Johnson, ‘23

To read other Senior Reflections, go to Senior reflection: Summer Foshee or Senior Reflection: Antonio Ruelas.

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Amanda Johnson, Editor in Chief
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