When that was finished, weíd FedEx the page proofs to the printing class downstate, and then, a few days later, wake up before dawn and pile into a car for the three-hour drive to the other high school. The ride back, with our eyes drowsy with sleep and our fingers stained with ink from carrying the box of neatly printed and folded newspapers, always seemed to go much faster. And somehow, when we got back to ICJA and began passing out copies of the issue, each of us felt wide awake.
The story youíve just read is true, but incomplete. It is true because it accurately relates, as any piece of journalism should, the who, when and what of a given situation. But it is incomplete because it leaves out the how. Kolot came about because my freshman English teacher, Mrs. Goldstein, told me that my first essay for her class was sub par, and sent me back to rewrite it and rewrite it again until it met her standards. Kolot came about because Mrs. Rosenwald, in her inimitable style, imbued me, and the rest of her students, with an appreciation for the good writing we read, and with a burning desire to create some of our own.
Most importantly, Kolot came about because Rabbi Myers listened when I said there was a need for a student newspaper that would be largely free of censorship, and then trusted me to go out and create it. I didnít realize it then, but the years I spent working on Crown Prints and Kolot were ideal training for a career in journalism. I learned first-hand every facet of producing a newspaper, from writing and editing to choosing photographs and graphics to designing and laying out each page. But I gained more than practical experience. Rabbi Myers never let me forget that in a school as small as the Academy, the words one writes and publishes can have an immediate and profound impact on the entire community of students and teachers. He also never let me forget that strong ties bind journalists with the communities they cover. Knowing that, in turn, makes it much easier to remember the importance not just of getting a story, but of getting it right.
I tried to take those lessons with me when I left Ida Crown and went to Penn, where I went from running a monthly newspaper with a staff of 10 to running the countryís largest college daily newspaper with a staff of 300. I tried to take those lessons with me to summer jobs spent covering the 1996 Israeli elections for the Jerusalem Post, the Chicago Bullsí sixth world championship (now a distant memory) for the Chicago Sun-Times, and the 1998 embassy bombings for Knight- Ridderís Washington Bureau. And I try to keep those lessons in mind at my current job, covering telecommunications and politics for The Wall Street Journalís Washington Bureau. My job has taken me to some fascinating places, and allowed me to meet some very interesting people. But itís easy in Washington to get lost in the game, to lose sight of the fact that journalists write for their readers, not themselves. There are days when I feel myself going down that path. Thatís when I think back to the long nights spent in the computer lab, and to the endless car trips to pick up the freshly printed copies of Kolot. Then I remember what it felt like to pass the issues out, to see students and teachers reading something I had written. My mind filled with memories of the lessons I learned at the Academy, I sit down, place my fingers on my keyboard, and start to write. The words come easily.
After graduating from Ida Crown Jewish Academy in 1994, Yochi J. Dreazen spent a year in Israel studying at Yeshivat HaKotel, then moved on to the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1999. That same year, he became The Wall Street Journalís youngest full-time reporter. Previously working in Washington, D.C., he currently is posted in the Middle East to cover the Iraq war.
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