2018 Journalism Seniors Reflect On Their Time Being On The Prowler Staff

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Senior staff members reflect on their time as a student at RCHS and as a journalist for

The Prowler.


Kaizad Irani

My time being a student at RCHS has been nothing short of amazing! The students I have met, teachers I have learned from, and the extracurricular activities I have participated in have all contributed to my personal growth and success. However, being a part of The Prowler staff for the past three years has impacted my life in more ways than one.

Reflecting on my time in the class, it has been surreal to see how much the program has grown. We have continued our success as a print publication, by continuing to win first place awards in the VHSL competitions. In addition, these past three years saw the expansion and modernization of our online website, which is now regularly used and updated with articles and other media content. Furthermore, this past year we experimented in the realm of broadcast media for the first time and laid the groundwork for a new broadcast journalism class that will emerge in the near future. I am proud that I was able to help contribute to the advancement and success of The Prowler and I am excited to see what the future holds for the organization.

Along with the success The Prowler has had as a whole, I have personally learned and gained a lot from my time being a part of the staff. As a reporter, I have learned journalistic writing skills and the keys to becoming an unbiased writer. As a class leader, I have learned communication, time-management, teamwork, and other effective leadership skills that I use everyday to ensure that quality content is produced. And as a young adult, I have learned the importance of trust, friendships, and not being afraid to take risks. As many past journalism students have uttered, being a part of The Prowler team is like being a part of another family. The amazing people I have met and the long-lasting friendships I have made through journalism hold a special place in my heart and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this special community.

And what senior reflection would it be if I did not briefly mention the heart of The Prowler staff, Ms. Harrawood. Ms. Harrawood has been responsible for the great success and growth The Prowler has had over the past 26 years. Her passion for what she does and her striving to keep advancing the journalism program is unmatchable. She has enlisted in me journalistic and personal skills and qualities that I know will help me in my future endeavours. Ms. Harrawood is the epitome of a great teacher and mentor and I will forever cherish my time working with her.

Journalism gave me an outlet to be able to share my opinions and views with the student body and local community. As a result, it is only right that I use this outlet one last time and attempt to leave my classmates and peers with one piece of advice. For those of you that know me, you know that one of my role-models is the late Steve Jobs — not only because of his amazing life story and the impact he left on society, but because of the lessons he taught and messages he left by. Stuck on my desk at home is a sticker that reads, “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was a mantra that Jobs lived by and it is one that I wish for myself, my journalism family, and anyone else who may be reading this.


Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.  


Mary Wilson Grist

Walking through the front doors my freshman year, I was pretty convinced that I would be stuck in high school for the rest of forever. Four years seemed like a lifetime to try new things, master a few of them, and make some memories along the way. As I passed older students in the hallway who seemed to have it all together, I began daydreaming about who senior me would be.

Looking back on high school from the flip side, my time on The Prowler staff has been one of the most defining aspects of my career. I have been forced to push myself outside of my comfort zone, whether it be interviewing important people for an article or taking on the responsibility of layout editor. My time of the staff has taught me the importance of accountability, reporting the whole truth, and acting without hesitation. I have gained confidence both as a writer and an individual, and the lessons I have learned in room 107 are unparalleled to any experience I had in high school. Watching myself do something I never imagined I would do has been one of the hardest, most gratifying and fruitful things I have done in high school. The Prowler staff has given me friendships, opportunities, and memories that freshman me would never have imagined for myself.  I feel so lucky to have lip-synced, danced, and grown into who I am alongside each member of this staff while publishing a paper or two along the way.


Byron Winchester

From a young age, I’ve always liked performing. From acting to sports, my desire to put on a show for a crowd was never a secret. In the eighth grade I saw my first talent show in which I watched The Prowler 5 take the stage and perform a dance that drove the crowd insane. It was exciting and it was something I wanted to be a part of. However, I was a bit turned off by the idea of having to write all the time. I had hopes of doing something with basketball when I grew up, and at first, I did not see a reason to take journalism. Thankfully, through the encouragement of my friends, I applied for the class and had my mindset of entering the class to see whether or not journalism was something I’d like to do in the long run.

Now, in year three, I look back on my time as a member of The Prowler staff and think just how amazing an opportunity it has been. I have learned the importance of initiative and accountability, how to deal with criticism and also how to give constructive criticism. More importantly, I have learned more about myself in this class than I have learned in any other classroom setting, thanks to the organic work environment that journalism has offered. I will miss the birthday parties, the lip sync contest, selling ads, and hosting the talent show more than anything, and I would encourage any future candidate to come in with the same mindset and willingness, not only to write, but to also be apart of a once in a lifetime experience.


Musa Kamara

To this day, I still remember the moment that I knew I wanted to become a member of The Prowler staff. I was in seventh grade and my sister, who was already in high school, brought home a copy of the paper. She didn’t show it to me, because she didn’t think anything more of the paper than would any other high schooler, but instead she left it on a table in our kitchen. One day, I stumbled across the paper sitting on the table, and as I was flipping through, fascinated, I came across what I have come to know as a point-counterpoint article. The article, published in late 2012, featured the opinions of two Prowler staff members on the upcoming presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. I –being a seventh grader who had never been taught anything else other than the fact that political views were not to be openly expressed– was completely floored by the article’s content. The students (of whom I still remember their names) openly expressed what they believed and each developed sound arguments on why the candidate they supported was a better candidate for the office. It completely baffled me that a group of high schoolers was able to create a product that I had only ever seen created by adults. On that day I pretty much turned everyone on The Prowler staff into a celebrity. From that moment on, I decided that, when I entered high school, I was going to become one of those celebrities myself.

And that’s where I find myself today, a third-year member of The Prowler staff, writing my last articles for the paper, gathering my last few pictures for these articles, and scrambling around, like I once saw my older peers do to create the last of what seems to be countless editions that I have been involved in creating. These past three years on The Prowler staff have been incredibly eventful and life-changing and have completely reshaped the initial idea that I had of The Prowler. What I initially perceived to be a pretty easy process has manifested itself into a laborious race to meet deadlines and– as I gained a more prominent role on the staff– ensure that others did the same. I have learned the importance of teamwork; I have learned how to deal with at least 26 types of problems (personnel and production-based alike); I have learned the value of accountability; I have learned how important time-management is (though I still haven’t nailed the practice down as well as I should have by now); and most importantly, I have learned a host of very cool journalism-related lingo. In addition to all of these experiences, I have become a more confident person and I have forged relationships that would not have existed otherwise.

Journalism has been one of the most–if not the most– definitive, aspects of my high school experience. This class has taught me more about the real world and how things really work than 99% of the other classes I have taken, and for that, I am more thankful than I can express in words. I would instruct any person aspiring to take this class to think twice, not because it was not an enjoyable experience, because I loved it, and not because it is hard, because it most certainly was, but because I think the difficulties it presents are not for the faint of heart. Anyone taking the class should be prepared to learn and grow an immense amount in whatever time they spend in the class, and neither learning and growing occurs without hardship to some degree. That being said, the rewards that this class presents are ones that extend far beyond the scope of simply producing a paper and I am both elated that I was able to spend three important formative years of my life on The Prowler staff, and sad that I have to go so soon.


Kala Youngblood

I started high school timid, yet excited, unsure of what the future held. Freshman year, I watched upperclassmen in The Prowler t-shirts, charismatically sell newspapers during lunch. After watching the talent show, I knew I wanted to be a part of that program. My first year of journalism was extremely daunting. One of my first article assignments, required me to interview the principal and vice principal. The Prowler taught me how to be confident and interact with adults. I learned vital skills about time management and leadership. I took on the role of Talent Show coordinator during my second year. Talent Show became a project I loved and hated. It was the largest responsibility I had ever taken on alone, and I was afraid to fail. I had many small failures along the way, but I will never forget the feeling of watching it all come together perfectly in one single night. The Prowler made me fail, and then made me learn from my mistakes. It taught me how to be personable and work with other people as a team to produce a final product. Even though I am not pursuing Journalism as a profession, the skills I learned from this class and Ms. Harrawood are going to be vital no matter where I end up. I am thankful for classmates who were not afraid to push me to do better. I am especially thankful for a teacher that helped me find my spine, and learn to seek the truth.


Mallory Keeley

Joining The Prowler staff sophomore year, I was nervous. I understood that the program required a lot of responsibility, independence, and hard work, still remembering the amount of times my brother came home late from “OK Parties” when he was on the staff. However, I also knew that journalism had a fun side to it; The Prowler talent shows, especially The Prowler 5, never failed to make me laugh, which is why I joined the team in the first place: Journalism is fun. The program is demanding, but the tight knit relationships you form, independence you have in the classroom, and the analytical writing skills you gain, have made it all worthwhile for me. I’m surrounded by passionate and outgoing  teammates every day fourth period for an hour in that music bopping classroom, and I’m truly going to miss it next year. My time on The Prowler staff has introduced me to people I otherwise may not have met, taught me the importance of listening before assuming, and has taught me to step outside of my comfort zone, whether it’s making business deals (i.e. selling ads, selling articles, or fundraising) or running for class president. Journalism has tremendously improved my confidence in my writing and in myself, and although I’m leaving next year, I’ll never forgot the mark it left on me or the great friends I made.


Ejiuwa Abah

       I have always wanted to be a journalist ever since I was little. I remember when I was in elementary school, I would walk to my mom’s office after school and sneak out of her office on the second floor. I would go up into the third floor where all the broadcasting stuff was and pretend to be a reporter. When I was in 4th grade, my mom signed me up for this after school journalism program but unfortunately, that program did not last very long. I tried to join journalism in 10th grade but I could not fit it in to my schedule then, and then I did not make it in the class in 11th grade. I am really grateful that I was able to be in this class in my senior year. Before I joined this class, I was a shy and quiet kid who would not talk to anyone other than people in my friend group, but taking this class has really changed that. Now I love talking to people and I love getting to know new people. I have also loved the fact that I am able to get into sporting events for free thanks to my press pass. This class has shown me how diverse our school can be if we just step out of our comfort zones, and this class has also improved my writing and I am getting better grades in English and other classes that involve a lot of writing, thanks to journalism. Taking this class is like having my childhood dream come true and I cannot thank you enough for that. Unfortunately, Roanoke College does not offer a journalism major. However, I am majoring in communications and I plan on writing for the Roanoke College newspaper and broadcasting on their radio station. My ultimate dream is to work for Buzzfeed, but to be honest, working for any news company would be amazing and a dream come true.


Blake Allen

Taylor Mali once said, “No graduation speaker will ever tell you that the future is anything but uncertain. It never is. But graduations need not only be obsessed with looking ahead; a graduation can be a day on which we turn back and trace our steps to see how we ended up where we are.” When I look back on my high school career, I will remember the times I spent a part of The Prowler staff — dating back to sophomore year, when I first learned how to write like a journalist, and building my writing over the past three years. I not only learned how to write, but I also learned how to branch out of my comfort zone and make a name for myself out in the community– not only just through interviewing people, but also through participating in the Lip Sync for two years and the Talent Show for three years. Each of these experiences has brought me great joy and a lifetime full of memories, but more importantly, they brought me friendships that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Additionally, the position I took on as visual editor my senior year and writing articles over the best three years, does not amount to the aroma of love shared through being a part of The Prowler Staff, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to join this class. It doesn’t matter who you are, who your friends are, or how popular you are, when you walk in the journalism room, you feel loved and like you have a family that you will have for the rest of your life. In my opinion, the comradery in there is unbreakable and I love each and every one of them, and I am truly blessed to have gotten to spend the past three years on this extraordinary staff. Troy Bolton once said, “Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat”, which is true, but to rephrase, “Once a part of The Prowler Staff, always a part of The Prowler Staff.”


Nic Benke

I am excited to move on, but also sad to say goodbye. It has been a fine four years, in which I have learned a fair amount. My great teachers have done their best to impart to me their wisdom, and I have done my best to retain that wisdom. While I may have first entered these door only literate in English, I will have exited tri-literate, having studied hard to attain an understanding of Latin and financial literacy. My time in The Prowler has been very rewarding. While our class may fluctuate between times of great productivity and downtime, we always have an objective. Through training from my editors and teacher, the wonderful Ms. Harrawood, I have learned to write thrilling articles in AP style and to dance colorful choreographies.

Although my exams may be through, there will be many more tests in life. I believe though, that the fine faculty and staff of this school have well equipped me to face these challenges. I would like to thank all of my teachers and coaches for being there for me over the years. Even though days may be daunting, just remember that the world is your oyster and that you are an oyster diver deep in the estuary rich with oysters.