The Budget

Journalism Shaped Me

Saying thanks to a life-changing teacher

By Luna Stephens, Yearbook Managing Editor

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Four years ago, I walked into Ms. Tholen’s room as a 21st Century Journalism student, not knowing what to expect from my time as her student.

I was on the middle school yearbook staff so I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I didn’t. I had so much to learn. Most of all, I had no idea that four years later, I would be enrolling as a journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, thanks to the experiences I had in her room.

How did I grow to love journalism enough to pursue a career in it? Through hours spent in room 139 planning, interviewing, writing and having a whole lot of fun. Besides producing award-winning publications, time in the J-room included watching Vine compilations, having Thanksgiving feasts, running to get Ms. Tholen coffee and engaging in constant laughs.

Before my years in room 139, I didn’t know how to avoid dead-end interview questions or how to structure a lead. I didn’t know AP Style rules or storytelling action verbs. And I definitely didn’t know how much hard work, determination, as well as fun, goes into producing The Budget and the Red and Black. Journalism is hard; it’s tedious, time-consuming and something you have to be careful not to get wrong. It takes a special teacher to be able to effectively advise and mentor students through journalism’s difficulties and for me it was Ms. Tholen who was able to make that happen.

How did I grow to love journalism enough to pursue a career in it? Through hours spent in room 139 planning, interviewing, writing and having a whole lot of fun.”

— Luna Stephens

I could have chosen to major in journalism at UNL even if I hadn’t ever stepped foot in room 139; many students step into college without prior experience in their career field. However, very few could feel as prepared as I do to study journalism, as Ms. Tholen has provided me with immense knowledge and experience before I’ve even stepped in a college classroom.

Many in the local community know of Ms. Tholen and the journalism program at LHS, but what proved the caliber of her advising to me was seeing LHS become a Pacemaker finalist, for both the 2017 newspaper and yearbook, something fewer than 50 schools in the nation can boast of being awarded. While visiting the UNL J-School, the professors were impressed I came from such a distinguished staff, recognizing LHS as one of those Pacemaker finalists. That’s when I knew that the knowledge I had gained in room 139 was truly special and will always form the backbone of my career.

While not all journalism seniors graduating will continue into the field, I know that we have all thoroughly enjoyed and are grateful for our time with Ms. Tholen, both the heartfelt and hilarious moments. That gratitude extends to all of the editors and staff members that make things happen. Without them, our publications wouldn’t be what they are.

About the Writer
Luna Stephens, Yearbook Managing Editor
Hey! I’m Luna, I’m (finally) a senior and I’m the yearbook managing copy editor. I love journalism! And my dogs! I’m planning to move to the west coast next year and pursue a career in journalism. Life is good! Print
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The School Newspaper of Lawrence High School.
Journalism Shaped Me