Helen’s Hot Takes: Epilogue

In the column series’ finale, Helen Zhang ’22 reflects on how being part of West Side Story has impacted her.


Xinmin Zhang

In the column series’ finale, Helen Zhang ’22 reflects on how being part of West Side Story has impacted her.

In my senior column, I reflect on my high school experience and the multitude of decisions I have made. Consider this epilogue an extension of it, but this time, only about my journalism experiences. 

Before becoming a journalist myself, I was unsure of how to view news publications. With frequent attacks made by public figures like Donald Trump, I was one of many people exposed to the idea of “fake news.” I knew the fundamental rule of not believing everything you see, so it seemed important to be wary of the media. 

Later on, as a freshman, I picked up my first issue of West Side Story. I saw how the publication gave a voice to its community and could find stories in so many people and places. At the end of my first year, I decided to register for Foundations of Journalism — and here we are. 

I’ve gained many skills as a reporter that I will continue to use. One is being a listener; interviewing my sources has shown me that people may have more to say than you first expect. It never hurts to ask more questions. 

Another skill is collaboration. In a way, the newspaper is one big group project. You have to communicate with your co-writers, designers, photographers and editors. In all honesty, sometimes I loved having so many people to work with — other times, not so much. Communication and compromise are crucial to a successful publication, especially when you have deadlines to meet. I will say, my fellow West Side Story staffers have been the best group project members I’ve had. 

Journalism has also given me my love of opinion writing. I used to dread being assigned persuasive essays in English class. Now, I have gained passion and confidence for putting my voice out there. Having the columns editor position has allowed me the opportunity to appreciate the voices of my fellow staffers too.

Even though I don’t plan to pursue journalism as a career, I will continue to use journalistic skills throughout my life to discover and create stories in the lives of myself and others. Goodbye, West Side Story — you will be missed but certainly never forgotten.