May 29, 2020
Long before I knew that I would never return to class, I felt a strong sense of finality in the week before spring break. I volunteered with my friends in orchestra, watched a trial on the last day of my legal internship, and connected with a lot of people that made my high school experience special. Most profound, however, was the time I spent that week writing about a former teacher’s journey fighting blood cancer before she left for treatment. Being one of the most important stories I’d write, I gave her a chance to read it after school before driving home for the last time.
Since then, missing out on prom, banquets, countless other events, and not seeing many teachers and friends for the last time has been extremely disappointing. Even though this might not be the ending I hoped for, none of this diminishes the impact that the groups I was involved in had on my life. Over the years I’ve been able to write over 200 articles, reports, and editorials, but there’s no way that I could quantify how much Wingspan has shaped the person I am today.
Four years ago I signed up for the class knowing that I liked writing, but I lacked confidence and drive like many other freshmen. From the beginning, Mr. Higgins gave us students a great deal of autonomy in what we wrote, and let us incorporate our interests. Although not every article I wrote might have been turned in by Friday night (I found ways around it for a while), I was hooked from the beginning.
Every week I wrote something different, and learned about the community around me. As I tackled various topics, I was also able to explore issues that mattered to me. Especially through editorials and articles on the Texas Legislature, Wingspan allowed me to find my voice as I prepare to leave for college.
Junior year, Mr. Higgins took a chance on me by naming me editor-in-chief along with Kasey. From posting and writing, to scheduling and helping reporters, I was able to learn more about working with others, leading, and communicating than any AP class could ever teach me.
Above everything else, no single part of the program had a larger impact on me than my advisor Mr. Higgins. Despite all of us being consistently frustrated by his expectations, it is because of them that Wingspan is one of the best high school publications in the country. Mr. Higgins sees the potential of everyone in the program, and always embraces their individuality that makes our content special. Mr. Higgins has believed in me and pushed me to work harder in times when I didn’t believe in myself, and I’m much stronger because of it. He has given more to the program than I can ever comprehend, and he inspires me on a daily basis to give 110% in everything I do.
Working alongside dozens of passionate writers in the program has given me hope for the future, and I know that Mr. Higgins will inspire dozens more writers to come. I leave Wingspan with an immense respect for journalists and a strong belief in the power of sharing stories and knowledge in combating ignorance. I recommend Wingspan to anyone interested in learning more about themselves or the world, and I am forever grateful for what the program has done for me.