Learning & Teaching

The best way to learn, especially when speaking of journalism, is through experience. I’ve been beyond fortunate to have some of the best teachers, whether I’m speaking of past editor-in-chiefs from Mountain Vista, my fellow staff members or my adviser.

As they’ve all encouraged me to go out and do amazing things, I’ve learned a lot of lessons that I’ve been able to relay back to others. This spread of ideas and knowledge within Mountain Vista Media is a huge part of what makes everyone involved so successful.

Maestro Project

The beginning of the 2014-2015 school year marked the beginning of my full time commitment to the VISTAj program.

I’ve always loved football, but before my junior year I wasn’t involved with journalism over the fall-sports season. Because of that, I never knew that I loved shooting football even more than I enjoyed watching it.

The first home game of every season, the editors set up a maestro project to help staffers gain experience covering a sports event. During the 2014 maestro project, I was down on the sidelines taking photos. After having so much fun covering the first game, I tried my hardest to make it to every single one of them that year even though it wasn’t my fall sports beat.

Along with the increase in coverage VISTAj saw from this, I learned some great leadership skills from Gabe Rodriguez, who usually made it to the games with me, that I’ve used this year with other staff members.

The beginning of the 2015-2016 school year wasn’t necessarily the beginning of my role as a leader in the Mountain Vista Media program, but it was very definitive of it.

The maestro project was such an amazing opportunity for me the previous year that I found it extremely important to help others during this year’s event.

Our first home game happened to be the homecoming football game, so the timing couldn’t have been better.

Before the game, my Co-Editor-In-Chief Kelsey Pharis and I composed a preview video using footage from some of the away games and interviews from various football players, unit leaders at our school and Michael Weaver, our principal.


For coverage of the game, we had reporters and photographers on the field, broadcasters in the press box and two editors helping transfer content to a live blog on VistaNow.

Because of my role on staff as a pretty good sports photographer, my main job tended to be helping people out with what settings to adjust their cameras to, where to stand and how to get the perfect shot. A lot of MVM’s staffers were underclassmen, and consequently had little experience working a camera. But since the homecoming game, we’ve had a huge amount of coverage on every sport at Mountain Vista from a lot of our younger staff members.

To see the live blog on Vista Now, click here

Because it wasn’t possible to post everything the minute it happened, we followed up with the rest of the photos. I started up a gallery on VistaNow that all of the staff members and editors could add their photos into to recap the game.

To see the full gallery on the website, click here

Capitol Hill Press Conference

This event, put on by the Colorado High School Press Association, was truly a great way to get members of the VISTAj media program to come together in a real world situation.

Since I strive to be a political reporter when I’m older, the experience could not have been better suited for me.

We were able to attend a press conference featuring one employee of The Denver Post, Jordan Steffen, and two of our state congressman, Rep. Paul Lundeen and Rep. Millie Hamner, before we were given a couple of hours to complete a piece of work in any chosen category.

The real journalism, though, came before the press conference. Some of my fellow staff members and I walked around the Capitol in downtown Denver with a goal in mind: speak to our government officials about the importance of education.

I remember walking into the office of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and asking to speak with him. The assistant sitting at the desk kind of looked at me blankly, chuckled and informed me I’d have to arrange a meeting online (I tried, but after a six-week waiting period I was informed that he didn’t have time).

We didn’t give up there, though. I knew from past knowledge of the Colorado government that Lieutenant Governor Joseph Garcia was also the executive director of the Colorado Board of Higher Education. We visited his office next, where we were once again told to make an appointment – that is until the man himself walked out and asked if we needed any help. Because I’d never met the guy before, I simply let him know we wanted to talk to the lieutenant governor. “I’ll be with you right after this meeting,” he replied. And so we waited.

After about 15 minutes, he let us come back. We talked with him for more than 20 minutes about standardized testing, the rising rates of college tuition and a lack of readiness among students of lower income areas.

Kelsey Pharis and I worked on the News-Feature Writing competition using Garcia’s interview as the basis of our work. It was extremely rushed, but we managed to properly assert the facts and present them with a theme – how do we access the standards of education?

To see it on our website, click here.

Individual awards: First place, News-Feature Writing with Kelsey Pharis

Other awards: Second place, Commentary Writing to John Bellipani and Tara O’Gorman