Editor leaves her mark on MHS journalism program


Lauren Molenda poses before her visit to John Wood Elementary the week before graduation.

Lauren Molenda, Editor

I remember walking into the journalism room on the first day of school my sophomore year, excited and eager to dive into the world of news writing. Growing up, I had always loved to write stories and take pictures, but I never got to study, learn, and make my own work in the classroom … until then. I flipped through the current issue of The Mirror, and instantly wanted to do all of the things: write huge headlining articles, tell powerful and moving stories, and share inspiring bits of the lives of those around me. It all seemed like such a giant feat, but now here I am, three years later, writing the headline articles (and editing them), telling the stories, and sharing them with the world.

After taking journalism, I dove right into working on the paper as the only underclassmen on the staff. While I soared through journalism with flying colors, actually creating the paper from scratch was like a whole different world. Thankfully, the seniors and Mrs. Skertic took me right under their wing and I eventually found my rhythm in the work and even began to form my own style. I remember going to my first real interview with Ross Township Trustee Joseph Shudick and feeling so professional, like I was really doing something that not everybody gets the chance to do. I fell in love, and knew it was something I was truly passionate about and wanted to continue on with.

As one of the few returning staff members, I jumped into my junior year as the Co-Editor of the paper, which felt a bit over my head at the time. On top of that, I was offered an internship position with Great Life News, working as the Merrillville High School representative for the online publication of NWI Life. I wrote one massive story every month, highlighting students, teachers, and events throughout the school and community. Some of my favorite works I’ve ever written came from my work at Great Life, and the whole experience made me a stronger writer, photographer, editor, and person. Back at MHS, my fellow staff and I were trying to make the best of our crappy COVID situation. Despite the struggles, we were able to fully transition to an online version of our paper and continue to showcase the incredible people, projects, and moments that make our school so special.

While the rest of my years of writing and editing really taught me a lot, my senior year has truly given me the best opportunities to do what I love most. I was able to take Newspaper all three trimesters this year, and serve as the Editor of all publications. I wrote about everything, from the CNA Nursing Program planting seeds in healthcare and the story of one of MHS’ most notorious teachers, Mr. Richardson, to the struggles that come along with Gender Identity and the uprising of the booming E-Sports team. Each and every feature, news article, review, sports story, arts piece, and column I’ve written throughout this year has truly shaped me into the writer, editor, and person I have become, and has allowed me to share my love for journalism through telling the stories of others.

As I graduate from MHS and continue on to the next chapter of my life, I will always carry a piece of our journalism department and the experiences I’ve learned and grown from with me. I will be continuing my education this fall at Purdue University West Lafayette, studying Elementary Education in hopes of one day having a classroom of my own. I hope to give my own students the tools and experience to discover and grow their own loves and passions, just as my teachers have done for me. 

While moving on to college life and new experiences truly feels like I’m leaving behind a little piece of myself, I am excited and confident that next year’s returning staff will continue to produce and create powerful works for our publication and will inspire incoming writers to do the same. Looking back on little sophomore me, flipping the pages and staring up at the top of the mountain, I now realize that I’m there. I’ve done all the things. I’ve failed, I’ve learned, I’ve grown, and I’ve prospered. And I’ve come out stronger and better than ever, ready to take on and conquer the next giant feat. Thank you to my peers, to those whose stories I’ve told, to Great Life, to my friends and family for supporting my work, and to Mrs. Skertic for being my greatest advocate, teacher, and mentor. Thank you for the experiences, and for bringing me to this point in my life.