By Inara Hossain
They seem like an average extracurricular activity. But why exactly is this certain extracurricular activity so important? Extracurricular activities all teach you important skills which are helpful for the later part of your life, but the skills you learn from a student newspaper are exceptionally valuable. Personally, being a part of the Mary Word has taught me time management skills- like juggling Friday lunchtime meetings with writing my articles before the due date. It has helped me improve my writing skills, therefore helping me in English, and has also improved my research skills so I can make my articles as informative as possible. Overall, participating in the student newspaper has helped me think outside of the box and be creative with my articles, while learning about new and interesting topics.
At the moment, since I am only in year 9, I mainly use all the skills I have learnt from the Mary Word in school-related tasks. So, I asked myself a few questions. Will being a part of The Mary Word be helpful after I finish school? Will these skills I have learnt be carried on too? Since I will not be able to answer these questions until 2023, I decided to interview my older sister, Ariyana Hossain (class of 2018) on her experiences in the student newspaper.
Question: When did you join the Mary Word, and why?
I joined the Mary Word in my first year at Loreto, Year 10 specifically. I was still getting used to the school at that point, so I wasn’t involved in many extracurriculars. Beyond that, I had a fairly long commute, so staying back/coming in early wasn’t easy. However, I really wanted to get more involved, so the Mary Word happened to work out perfectly in terms of convenience (being a lunchtime activity) but also aligning closely with my interests. I loved writing and was probably a little too much into Buzzfeed at the time, so it just seemed like the perfect fit.
Question: What did you do in the Mary Word?
Like most members, I essentially wrote articles for each edition in my first two years. Those articles ranged from opinion pieces and movie reviews, to political commentary and advice. We generally decided on a theme during our meetings to coordinate all our pieces, but you were absolutely free to write about anything you felt passionately about, it was fairly informal.
In my final year though, the club went through a bit of an overhaul--we got an exciting new site, new roles, and a new approach to writing for the newspaper. It was that year that I became an editor of the Trending portfolio while continuing to contribute to the paper. We were just as free to write about whatever we wanted but we had a more structured approach to our process, quite similar to university student newspapers, which I appreciated.
Question: What skills have you learnt and have continued to use from the Mary Word?
Good question, I’d have to say time management. Extracurriculars are always an additional commitment to take on but I loved that we had generous deadlines since we published 2-3 times a term. Of course, having a lot of time can be a bad thing, so it was best to stay organised. The process itself really helped with that. Contrary to popular belief, you’re not ‘writing’ the whole time--you’re brainstorming, pitching ideas, drafting your work, and editing. You’re also not working entirely alone. It can be a very collaborative process which was great in terms of getting feedback or just bouncing ideas off of each other. The Mary Word was also useful in improving my writing skills while I was at school. My articles were honestly very Buzzfeed-esque when I started out in Year 10. Over the years however, I began to write in a more tangible, structured, and journalistic style that would hopefully appeal to all year groups.
Question: What do you think about your experiences with the Mary Word?
They were great! The Mary Word was my favourite extracurricular activity while I was at Loreto. Meetings were definitely a fun, informal environment where we discussed ideas, themes, and logistics. But it was the writing I really enjoyed. I’m currently a humanities student at uni so naturally I do a LOT of writing. Most of my subjects back at Loreto were also quite essay heavy. As much as I enjoy/enjoyed my subjects at uni and school, writing continuously can get massively draining. One of the best pieces of advice I got from a friend last year (coincidentally another ex-Loreto girl) was to make sure you write at least one thing every year for enjoyment. I didn’t think much of it at first, but in hindsight the Mary Word was somewhat of a therapeutic outlet for me in my senior years to write about whatever I was passionate about or interested in at the time.
Question: Would you recommend other students to join the Mary Word, and why?
Absolutely! I was in the Mary Word for three years, through quite a few changes, but it was a consistently positive experience all around. I mentioned this before, but it tends to be quite the collaborative extracurricular. So, you’re not having to work alone and there’s a lot of support all around. You get out of it as much as you put in and there’s definitely opportunities to improve or pick up on new skills (also...it perfectly checks off that E on the FACE curriculum). It was my experience of writing for the Mary Word that inspired me to pursue student journalism in the future.