I never expected to join The Spartan Scoop, but I’m insanely grateful that I did. 


Tony Hemenway

spartan scoop staff in the midst of chaos

Joining The Spartan Scoop newspaper (AKA – “Digital Publications”) was the last thing I ever expected to do.

I hated reading. I hated writing. And joining the newspaper sounded a heck of a lot like both.

I came to find out about the newspaper sophomore year when my English teacher (and current Publications teacher) Ms. Bathje told me I should join. I had told her that joining publications sounded like a great way to enroll in a class that revolved around everything I hated doing…and that it didn’t sound very appealing. However, despite my answer Bathje still pushed.

She told me that there were other options in publications such as podcasting, photography, media manager, etc. I was finally convinced after she agreed to let me join a position that didn’t require writing. I don’t say this lightly when I say: joining publications was,by far, the best decision I made in my four years of high school. 

Joining the Scoop taught me so much more than I ever expected. Working together as a student-run newspaper resulted in bonding with others in a similar way that I’d consider a sports team to bond. Everyone on staff is important in their own way and holds a crucial role in keeping everything running. It was, and continues to be, unmatched by any other class I’ve taken.

I started in the podcast position not knowing the first thing about creating a podcast. I found myself becoming very close with my crew and learned along the way. I’ve had classes that I considered fun, but nothing has compared to the amount of fun I have had with The Spartan Scoop. I continue to be impressed by the fact that the class is able to still be productive, despite the amount of fun we all have on a daily basis. If I could choose one class for anyone to take, it would without a doubt be Digital Publications – here’s why:

REASON #1: I have NEVER found a class that has been more accepting than Sentinel’s newspaper. The class itself consists of so many different, opposite, and unique personalities. One look at our staff could tell you that much. Yet, despite the diversity of the class, everyone has found their place amongst each other.

The staff not only accepts differences, but relishes in them. I have never felt like I had to fit in or be anything other than myself among them. We’re weird, we’re goofy, and everything we are at heart exists without the pressures of judgment or the fear of rejection. We can wear our emotions on our sleeves, which has become a near impossibility in society (without being criticized).

If you’re having a bad day, you can walk in angry. If you’re feeling the pressures of a full plate, you can walk in stressed. Whether you are sad, irritated, or going crazy, you can walk in without hiding it. The beauty, however, is that no matter what state you’re in when you come in, you get to have 45 minutes to escape and submerge yourself in everything good about being surrounded by people who are bonded like family. You will leave feeling better. Lighter. And like you have the strength to face the rest of the day.

I have never had a class that has surrounded me with as much positivity as Digital Publications. Everyone has your back and will stand behind you, supporting you. I have been beyond privileged to have been able to surround myself with some of the most wonderful people with whom I have ever crossed paths. No matter who you are, your grade level, or what you look like, you will be accepted and surrounded by some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. That alone is enough to make taking this class my best decision yet. 

REASON #2: Apart from finding a family amongst the staff of The Spartan Scoop, the class has also taught me more life lessons than any other class I’ve taken. One primary lesson that I’d like to address is working as a team. I know that that is a pretty common life lesson people talk about, but I feel like this class has given me a much deeper understanding of the concept. There are more roles than you’d expect in Digital Publications: Web Manager, Podcast Manager & Crew, Public Relations, Photographers, Illustrators, Finance, and onward. Each is crucial to running the Scoop.

We’re a team that consists of a variety of different moving parts that all play into one another. The actions of one affects the actions of all, and there is a beauty about relying on one another like that. If there’s a role that needs to be filled, someone will step up to fill it. There is a level of trust amongst all of us to play our parts, and ask for help when we need it. Communication is key among the staff.

I have always been one to feel nervous when it comes to asking for help or voicing a mistake; but when it comes to Digital Publications, those nerves have become non-existent. We have all established an insanely easy line of communication among each other that consists of acceptance, understanding, and problem solving.

Things never fail to work out with so many willing to step up and help. 

REASON #3: This concept of stepping up where needed has also taught me an important lesson in keeping my mind open. It doesn’t matter if I have preconceived notions or opinions on certain tasks or roles; I have been pleasantly surprised time and time again by giving things a chance.

For example: remember how I said I wasn’t going to write because I hated writing? Yeah…well, that obviously didn’t last. The first year I joined, I found myself writing despite my original disliking for it. I decided to give it a shot, because we were low on reporters, and was grateful that I did.

I mean it when I say that I was beyond confident in the belief that I despised writing with a passion; I would have rather eaten a bowl of nails than become a reporter. However, that quickly changed. After I started writing I surprised myself by finding a love for it. I was under the impression that it was always like an English class; writing essays, having limited topic choices, and always having to take your voice out of it. However I came to realize that when writing for the Scoop, it was the exact opposite. 

I have creative freedom and can choose what I write about. When I report on topics about Sentinel, I get to talk to staff, students, observe events, and put everything together in a piece that is wholly mine. I can let my voice infuse into my writing and allow the words to flow from my head without the limitations that come with writing essays.

If you would have told me two years ago that I would grow to love writing, I would have laughed in your face. Yet here I am, not only writing, but writing about how I fell in love with it–who’d’ve thought? 

REASON #4: I was also encouraged to do things out of my comfort zone. This year, I kept my position in podcast, but somehow found myself stepping into the position of Web Manager (aside from the fact that I knew about as much as a caveman when it comes to most technology). When our last Web Manager graduated, Bathje insisted that I was capable of filling the role – despite my self doubts.

So I did. 

I managed to learn along the way, face multiple circumstances of problem solving, and become a factor in keeping our website alive. This experience not only opened my eyes to the fact that I am capable of doing things I thought I couldn’t, but that I am capable of learning through trying, because the only thing holding me back is myself.

The Scoop staff pushes its members to grow and explore things outside of their comfort zones. It has been a major factor in learning to keep an open mind…and malleable opinions. It taught me to trust in myself and the people around me. If they believed I was capable of doing so, then I was

I have learned so many things from my two years of being a part of The Spartan Scoop, from creating podcasts, reporting on events or people, writing as a journalist, managing a website, fundraising for equipment, and working as a part of a team.

I have been given the creative outlet I didn’t know I needed, along with a place to grow as a person. I have gained countless life lessons and an escape from my stresses. However, all of that pales in comparison to the group of people that have become a family to me. I couldn’t appreciate Bathje more for pushing me to join the Spartan Scoop newspaper, and I hope to be the person who pushes somebody else because it has truly made a difference in my life.

I have been beyond blessed to have stumbled upon this incredible group of people, and truly found my place in Sentinel.  So if there is ever a question of whether you should join or give it a shot, the answer is: yes, with no hesitation.