Being a student journalist connects writing to my world


Shivi Sharma

The Sidekick CHS9 Editor Shivi Sharma discusses her experiences in journalism on The Sidekick newspaper. Scholastic Journalism Week celebrates student journalism globally and takes place this year from Feb. 24 to Feb. 28.

Shivi Sharma, CHS9 Editor

Like most students, I participated in many classes and camps growing up, determining possible interests. One of them was a writing class at University of California, Berkeley’s Academic Talent Development Program (ATDP) in the summer of 2012. 

We’d practiced writing poetry in third grade, and my haiku about a nonspecific busy street was published in the 2013 edition of the Youth Poetry Digest. Though it was three lines I had thrown together to match the syllable count, it was the first time I saw my name and the words I’d chosen on a page. Clutching my copy in my hands and flipping to the page my poem was on gave me a small sense of pride. 

At ATDP, we free-wrote in pen, a group of elementary students scribbling poems and stories and thoughts. From then on, writing followed me through time; in school, in unfinished short stories typed letter by letter in staccato fashion, in poems about life and time and flight submitted to various publications and read aloud at gatherings. 

Rereading most of what I wrote then feels dramatic and cringe-inducing now, but I appreciate the unabashed way I wrote. That kind of experimentation taught me everything I could do with 26 letters and an open mind, a lesson I put into practice writing for The Sidekick today. 

Looking back, it’s easy to see the connection between how much I enjoyed seeing what I wrote published and The Sidekick

Now, no matter how many times I hit ‘publish’ on Coppell Student Media, seeing my name next to content I put time and effort into makes me proud. When I scroll through my profile, I know that not only do I have published pieces to look back on, I’ll always remember the experiences of writing them. 

I’ve learned how a student rapper creates his music, heard a swim coach’s story of victory when she competed in Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and captured the looks of determination on the faces of people my age at a climate strike. There’s truly nothing like seeing someone talk about or do what they love – you can sense their passion in the way they frame their experiences, in the intensity of emotions on their face after a win or a loss. 

I try to reflect their love for what they do in what I do. It teaches me there’s truly no limit on what people can succeed in, and that journalism is truly about people.

When I walk around Coppell and Coppell High School, I see places and people with stories I recognize from content I read, edit and write on CSM. So far, I’ve moved eight times in my life, and I’ve never felt as aware of the community around me as I do in Coppell. Part of that may be a result of simply being older, but I have no doubt that being in this journalism program has made me appreciate the traditions, residents and history of the city I live in. 

I’ve told countless parents and students at presentations at CHS9 or at CHS’s Spring Showcase that I love Sidekick because it gives you the flexibility to try everything that’s creative. But that’s just what journalism is. It’s content created by people, for people, deepening your understanding of the world around you and allowing you to interact with it in new ways.

I’m so grateful to every person that I’ve interviewed, every person that’s listened to me attempt to describe the breadth of our program in one breath and every person that’s encouraged me when I walk up to them with my laptop balanced in one hand, pitching an idea, asking a question or waiting for edits. 

High school and who I am now would be very different had I not sent that email to Sidekick adviser Chase Wofford asking about The Sidekick in May of 2018. Almost two years and 55 stories later, I feel like I still have so much more to explore in D115 and the world of journalism.

Follow Shivi @_shivisharma_ on Twitter.