On February 8, High School Insider held a Winter IRL event at G.C.C, Glendale Community College, open to all high school students interested in journalism. HS Insider is a journalism program managed by the L.A. Times, which allows students to publish their articles on an online blog. Partnering with executive producers from the local broadcasting system, KCET, and led by the H.S. Insider team, the IRL gave students a chance to explore the college admissions process, question the justice of it, and talk with journalists and digital producers about their work.
The IRL event was held from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the student center of G.C.C. We were immediately welcomed by the team and offered refreshments as we mingled with one another for the first thirty minutes. With students from all parts of L.A. County, and even a few from outside, the atmosphere was one of friendliness and enthusiasm at getting to know one another.
After introductions, we were shown a thirty-minute documentary called “Under Pressure,” produced by Tori Edgar and Ginna Pollack, two digital producers from KCET. The documentary focused on the unfairness of the college admissions process, particularly emphasizing the role of wealth and privilege, as well as the stress students undergo due to unrealistic expectations and the rise in the level of competition over the last few years. With details showing the insane amounts of money invested into college counseling and spreadsheets detailing the precise language used to describe students during the USC scandal — “VIP,” “potential donor,” “father is a surgeon” — the content of the documentary was received with much distaste.
We were then split up randomly into four different groups, each with a Student Advisory Board member and a team leader to help facilitate further discussion. As we gathered around the table, conversations quickly slipped into a variety of topics, such as our school environment, individual pressure, how we managed stress, and the overall unfairness of the whole institution. Though everyone was from different backgrounds and had different interests, the stress and indignation at the injustices seemed to be the one commonality throughout the groups.
Around noon, groups were adjourned to have lunch. I sat down with Ginna Pollack and a few others, and she shared her experiences, explained her work, and gave advice for finding interesting stories. She told us about projects she’d done regarding topics like politics and homelessness in L.A., sharing funny anecdotes and insider tips along the way.
Overall, the Winter IRL was an insightful and inspiring experience. I loved the group discussions, because they allowed us to connect and relate with one another on a deeper level. Because sign-ups are free, I would definitely participate again next quarter and recommend anyone else who is interested to attend as well.
Joyce Kim, Grade 10
La Canada High School