Isabel Wilder, a rising senior at Palmetto High School, won the Most Outstanding Junior in Newspaper Award in April. She joined the newspaper as a junior, working as a copy editor. Next school year Wilder will be the senior copy editor.
“I worked my way up and now I get to be on the leadership team,” she says.
She’ll oversee a team of four copy editors. Working on the newspaper takes up most of her free time. She stays after school most days to copyedit five to ten stories a week.
“For online, you have a lot of flexibility,” she says. “You can have a story be 500 words or up to 1000. You have to read it and read it and read it.”
The word count for a print story depends on the design of the page. She says there could be an 800 word story or it could be as long as 1200 words.
For each piece, they try to find a human connection that will draw the students to read the story. She hopes the school paper will help make students into newspaper readers and help them connected to what’s happening in the world.
At school, Wilder is a member of the Social Science Honor Society. She is a member of the History Bowl team. She plans to be on the team again next year.
She’s the incoming president of the English Honor Society. The club has group activities at each meeting.
They do things such as analyzing pieces of work – poems, stories or songs.
“We also share what we have written ourselves,” she says. “You get a good look into another person’s life by what they write about.”
She occasionally writes poems.
“I don’t usually like to share them,” she says. “I’m trying to work up the courage to share them.”
Her love for writing has changed her mind on college majors. She’s now considering journalism/writing as a major.
“Career-wise I wanted to become an engineer,” she says. “Now I think I want to continue writing. It brings me a great deal of joy. It’s a way to process what is happening in your life.”
Her college list includes Tulane, Florida State University, the University of Florida, the University of Chicago, and Boston University. Right now, Tulane tops the list because of the testimonials of former classmates she admires who are attending the New Orleans based university.
“I aspire to be like them. I feel that school could help me grow as a person if I wanted to pursue a career in writing,” she says.
While newspaper keeps Wilder so busy she doesn’t have much time for outside community service, she does make it a point to volunteer at Coral Reef Elementary when the school has big events such as the carnival or the hoe down. She helps out because her brother and her sister attend the school.
“I probably go a handful of times a year,” she says. “Sometimes I work the booths. I help them clean up. I help set up the auctions. I did face painting one year. I helped run games another year.”
She enjoys her volunteering.
“It’s really fun – the kids get so excited,” she says. “They just have a good time and it’s so rewarding.”
She’s also volunteered at the ACLU doing office work to help the office stay organized. She’d go a couple times a month.
“My grandmother was the president of the ACLU of Florida,” she says. “They defend people whose civil liberties have been infringed upon.”
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld