We’ve all been there – the moment of dread from sending an email or message to the wrong person, or sending something that was not meant to be sent at all. This morning while doing my usual web surfing I was shocked to see my photo and the very rough draft for this article at the top of Patch’s “Local Voices” column. Sent into a frenzy of embarrassment and damage-control mode, I quickly deleted the article and all I could think was, “there goes my writing career”. The article was a mish-mash and ranting of frustrations and mixed feelings about school, tennis, and certain school personnel. My ramblings were confused and certainly not meant for any readers. Perhaps this incident exemplifies the daily struggles I experience as the developer, main writer and editor of The Bull at MHS.
Now that I got that off my chest, allow me a moment to talk about The Bull. Almost a year ago I desperately searched the list of clubs and activities provided in MHS’ student planner for a journalism/media outlet available to me as an incoming sophomore. The school’s newspaper, The Mountaineer, was all I found and is only written by juniors and seniors taking the journalism class. Feeling out-of- luck with school-provided programs, I decided to start my own news blog on which I and any other student writers could publish their articles for a teen audience. While my blog has been successful in the sense that since November 20th I have gotten over 11,000 views from over 75 countries, I strangely get more feedback comments from China then I do from Montclair. While my articles are certainly more relevant to Montclair readers, the outside support is still encouraging and gratifying.
Not surprising to me, the three most popular articles on The Bull in order have been “Nagging about Sagging: Exposing What Girls Really Think”, “MontclairSwag.tumblr.com: Violating or Artistic?” and “Let’s Call it a Tie, But Look Who Got into Harvard…”. In my opinion, the reason these articles got the most views is because they specifically focused on controversial subjects that affect Montclair High students in a personal way. In true form with traditional parent/teenager differences, my interview about the “Got Tutoring?” program with MHS principal, Mr. Earle, was very popular on the Patch and among the parents, but got little attention from the student body. Over the course of this year, I found that the article most popular across the board was the one (mentioned above) comparing early admission college acceptances between MHS and MKA, which, I believe, for different reasons, appealed to MHS parents and students alike.
My goal for The Bull this coming school year is to expand the blog’s popularity, make it more accessible and user friendly, and to establish a regular team of writers covering the many events at MHS. The biggest challenge I found this past year has been getting students, already overloaded with work and activities, to write articles. While some friends have contributed several interesting articles, my hope is that the number of writers will grow as the blog’s popularity increases. I encourage new MHS writers who are interested to contact me.
The Bull has forced me to push my limits as a journalist and as a person. Not only have I raised a few eyebrows in the girl’s bathrooms photographing ugly things like rolls of toilet paper floating around in the bowl, but I have unfortunately had to defend an article with a few of my favorite teachers, broke a few school rules, interviewed en masse about sagging pants and made a royal pain of myself to a certain someone’s secretary. These things aside, I would like to thank the MHS and greater Montclair community, and the Patch for being so supportive of me and The Bull through this past year. I owe a lot to the MHS staff for reading and spreading the word about my articles and encouraging me when I felt discouraged (especially my unconventional history teacher, a.k.a. The Bull’s #1 fan).