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Seniors remember COOL week

February 12, 2016

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Hill Country News for the week

Interning at Hill Country News last week wasn’t like anywhere else—it was like interning everywhere, not just spent in the office, but out and about. Journalism itself is unlike anywhere else because of the sheer determination and work that it takes, the thick-skin that it takes to succeed and the willingness to succeed that is a must for any budding journalist. Cookies, state capitol tours, motorbike riders and airplane flyers all presented themselves once or twice in my week there. As a young journalist in the field, I wasn’t originally sure what was expected of me, but instead of shadowing the staff writers or watching the editor-in-chief, I became a member of the staff itself, entrusted with the same expectations and responsibilities as everyone else.
I worked with two other students, Jack Densmore from Leander High School and Paul Iskra from Vista Ridge. We showed up on our first day, one by one, each clad in business casual attire, and dove straight into our first assignment—interviewing random people around the town of Leander, trial by fire, but it was the rest of the week that was really special. Interning at a newspaper is something spectacular because we got to experience so many “cool” things. My team was in charge of covering the COOL week story for the district, which meant paying a visit to everyone else.
Every day was spent jam-packed with interviews all around, with Pigg Pen Cycles, the Leander Fire Station and Pilot’s Choice Aviation all in one day. Followed by a day at the Texas State Senate and Fashion X Austin. Not to mention getting free Cookies at Eileen’s Colossal Cookies and touring the facilities. However, it wasn’t necessarily the places we went but the hands-on experience that was so rich and valuable. In high school, a student’s opportunities are limited. COOL week gave each participant a glimpse into what it’s like to work in the “real world” for just a week and even though it was short, it gave students connections that they can hold onto for a long time to come.
In the end, I can safely say that I want to go back, and probably will act as the free-lance writer they asked me to be.
One week after my team and I started, we came out with a page in the paper that we were all proud of and a newfound inspiration to power through the rest of the year to someday get up there. Every senior should participate in COOL week next year because it’s an opportunity that not every school is fortunate enough to have.

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Two days at the Capitol

When I first moved to Austin, my family had to take its obligatory trip to the Texas Capitol building. To my young mind, the exterior itself was a colossal reminder of the ego the Lone Star State exuded, the building itself taller than the nation’s own Capitol by less than twenty feet. Inside, the dome seemed to stretch to infinity, and was lined with the portraits of every man and woman deemed worthy enough to lead this seemingly infinitely large state. Even though this initial impression has been worn by further visits and the ever-trivializing effect of a growing awareness of the world, this landmark continued to hold a certain allure to it that made me excited to return. Therefore, I was very honored to be able to briefly intern at the State Capitol during COOL Week.
When I first started the COOL Week application process, I felt discouraged. My dream career of becoming a diplomat had no real possibility of becoming a reality in Austin. But when Ms. Spradling suggested an internship at the Texas Senate, I was intrigued, and quickly decided to follow up on this opportunity.
My first day started at the Senate’s Sergeant at Arms office, after I had already succeeded in becoming hopelessly lost for a short period of time. I was then lead to the Senate Messenger’s office, where I was to job shadow their employees. Following these workers as they ran documents from an office on one side of the building to another office on the other side, then all the way to another office in another building and all the way back to the Messenger’s office, where they had but minutes until the phone would ring and the whole process would begin anew, I gained a great appreciation for their dedication and pure stamina. I was also able to obtain a large degree of knowledge about the day-to-day functions in the Senate.
The next day was an even greater experience. That day, I was able to learn exactly how a Senate committee functions, and what the Senate messenger’s duties in committee meetings were. They can be intense affairs; I was told several have lasted more than twelve hours (though messengers only serve in shifts of two to three hours). The training ended with our supervisor, Jessica Flynn, putting us through a brief simulation of a committee meeting and having us act out a messenger’s typical duties. After some more job shadowing, a workout in itself, the time had come for me to leave. Though I was upset, I was encouraged by the fact that Ms. Flynn had offered me a position during the summer.
All in all, my COOL Week was a vastly enriching experience. I am now more committed than ever to become a diplomat. If you have any knowledge of the field you would like to work in after graduation, high school or college, I highly suggest you take this opportunity to test the waters. So get out there and see what your dream career is like. It’s only a COOL Week away.

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A COOL experience with EMMIS Radio

I had the opportunity to shadow a radio station company called EMMIS Radio with three other students from the district this past week. This experience, thanks to COOL week, has opened my eyes to what I could pursue as a career in the future.
During my two-day shadow of the company, I got to meet and watch the 101X morning show with Jason and Deb, a well-known radio talk show in town.They showed us how their show works and how they do live ads.
I was also introduced to Emily McIntosh, the midday radio personality for KGSR, a station that I listen to constantly. She did a Alissia Cara ticket contest while we were in the studio, and we got to see how phone calls are translated through the radio. We also got to see how she programs the music she chooses to play for her show and got to record our voices for “real-listener” promo ads.
I also met Don Pryor from the Tod and Don morning show on KLBJ. I was shown how a talk show works, how ads and marketing play a big part in the radio industry, and was even shown how they take on air calls and do call-in ticket winning contests.
As a student journalist and an aspiring professional journalist, the inner workings of EMMIS, especially their news station KLBJ, really showed me what I could do and where I could go in my field. Before this week, I wasn’t even really considering going into broadcast or radio, but after seeing the things radio personalities and radio journalists do and talking to some of the reporters and personalities, I think I am starting to get a radio bug.

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A COOL Week at Davis Elementary

Growing up with Dyslexia made it very difficult for me to progress in my studies. I had many challenges and many teachers who didn’t know what to do with my challenges. Each year I would be moved to the next grade level without any understanding of the previous years.
When I was in fifth grade my family decided it was time to pull me out and homeschool me. After two years of homeschooling,I went from being the kid who didn’t know my days of the week or how to read, to being in advanced classes. It was after that that I realized that I wanted to do something that would not only make me feel good, but it would help many students with learning challenges.
After a week at Davis Elementary school, I’ve realized that being with the students and helping them with their studies was the best career choice for me. I felt as though I was a real teacher. My effort to help those students seemed to pay off when they would run up to me with a huge smile on their face because they made a 100 on a test. That in essence is the best feeling because I was there to help them through the process.
Many people have told me that becoming a teacher is the worst thing you could do because the pay isn’t good, but honestly I’m not majoring in education for the pay, I’m majoring in it so I can one day change one’s life just like my family did for me. COOL week taught me that if you want to pursue a passion don’t listen to what others tell you and just go for it.

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A COOL time at Entercom Radio

For my COOL Week I went to Entercom Radio in Westlake right across the street from Westlake High School. Entercom is home to mix94.7, Majic 95.5, 96.3 RnB and talk 1370. I was only there for Wednesday and Thursday, but I learned a lot in those two days!

The first day we met Ann Peterson who is the head of accounting and recruiting, she gave us an overview of what we would be doing each day. We met with a different person in each department. Our first stop was meeting with someone from the IT part of the radio station, which went totally over my head. Kacey, the head of IT, just told us how the radio signals worked, how you work a sound board and control room and how you can tell how many people are listening to the radio. That is about all that I took away from that little preview. Then we went on to meet with someone in the “traffic” department, but that is not someone that reports on the morning traffic. It is a radio term that means planning out all the commercials and how they get inplemented. It was interesting to learn that the commercials are not just put in at random, someone actually specifically puts those commercials in during that time slot for a commercial break. The amount of money that a company will pay for a commercial is ridiculous and some of the ads don’t even make it on the air. My favorite part of the day was definitely when we got to watch a band perform in lounge. The band was called “The Mrs” and are a local band from Westlake, they weren’t bad– not great but not awful. It was five Westlake housewives that wanted to start a band and they did, pretty much. I do give them credit for writing their own songs. We also made a commercial for H-E-B; we read from a script and recorded our voices and the combined it all together to make commercial about Valentine’s day, though it wasn’t real and didn’t air. Hearing your voice record is about as fun as listening to nails on a chalkboard, but the experience was super cool. After lunch we met with sales which is where we learned about the “money making” part of radio. The salespeople are the ones that find companies that want to buy an advertisement during a commercial break. If it was up to the sales department there would be twice as many commercials on the air than their currently are, because that is where all the money comes from. Overall the first day was very informative and I learned a lot about the behind the scenes part of radio.

The second day we got to meet with all the radio personalities, we sat in on MIX in the morning with Booker, Sara and Alex. I really enjoyed getting to watch how a morning show worked. The show starts at 6 am and ends at 9 am so the hosts get there at 4:30 am to prepare. Booker, Sara and Alex were really nice and gave us a really good overview to what it was like actually being on air. Being in radio is not a quick business– it takes time and you have to wait your turn to get your “big break.” By the end of our meeting Alex even offered me an internship if I wanted one during the summer when I am in college. A department that I didn’t know much about but found very interesting was promotions. Aaron Hurd and Blanca Deen are the people in charge of what I think is the fun stuff, all the contests and concerts and giveaways. They find companies that want to sponsor a promotion and come up with some way to make it interesting and give it away. For example they had a contest going on that if you entered your name you were in the running for a new diamond necklace and $200 gift card to the Vince Young Steakhouse on Valentine’s day. I found that really interesting because you get to meet with new people everyday, make someone’s day and be creative. The last stop on the grand Entercom radio tour was meeting with Nikki Nite, the director of programing. She is the one that decides what songs will be played. The fact that she has to plan out which song to play every hour and how to mix it up and count how many people are listening to that radio station, just seemed like a very stressful job. One of the most interesting facts that I learned was that the top 5 most popular song will be played 30 times in one day, because the odds of someone staying on the same radio station is slim so you play a popular song over and over and at some point people are going to listen to the whole song.

I had a great experience at Entercom and learned a ton even in the short span of two days. It reassured me that I was going into the right field of communications, but do I want to do radio and be on air? Not really, but there are a lot of behind the scenes that seems really interesting. COOL week was overall a really great experience and I would recommend it to all incoming seniors!

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About the Writers
Photo of Laura Figi
Laura Figi, Web Editor in Chief
Laura Figi (though commonly referred to just as “Figi”) is the Web Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 year. She enjoys writing and competing in UIL for the journalism team. Laura is Historian of the French National Honors Society, and a member of French Club and Philosophy Club. Outside of school Laura enjoys playing ukulele, singing, taking pictures of bands and downtown Austin, and playing video games. Laura plans to go to college in-state and study newspaper/broadcast journalism, photography and French.
Photo of Johnny Morreale
Johnny Morreale, Writer
Johnny Morreale is a staff writer for the 2015-16 school year Vandegrift Voice newspaper. He is fond of the written word and reads frequently, though not as much as he used to thanks to the soul-crushingly large amount of homework he now has every night. When not at school, he swims, studies and works at the River Place Country Club.
Photo of Emma-Rose Floyd
Emma-Rose Floyd, News Editor
Emma-Rose is a senior at Vandegrift. She has been a part of newspaper since her sophomore year. Positions she has held include Social Media Manager, and News Editor, a position she has had for two years. Emma-Rose  is also an active member of Key Club, dances in her free time and is a member of the UIL journalism team. She hopes to major in communications in college and become a full-time journalist.
Photo of Jasmine Moreno
Jasmine Moreno, Lifestyles/Reviews/Entertainment Editor
Jasmine Moreno is the Entertainment Editor of the paper. She is a senior and first year member of The Voice. She enjoys writing poetry, stories and is an avid reader.  She has taken several higher level literature courses and is serious about her position as a writer. She plans to go to A&M University and hopes to major in English and Child Development. After college, she plans to take her leadership and writing skills with her to her career.
Photo of Kate Murphy
Kate Murphy, Newspaper President
Kate Murphy is a senior, she has been a writer of the Vandegrift Voice for three years. She is the current President for the Newspaper where she plans events and helps encourage her fellow students. Kate enjoys writing about sports and lifestyle articles, she enjoys writing about her fellow classmates and getting to know them. Go Vipers!
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