The Student News Site of Hudson High School

The Explorer

The Student News Site of Hudson High School

The Explorer

The Student News Site of Hudson High School

The Explorer

Journalism, Yearbook and Mod Com take on San Francisco

K. Kurokawa
The girls from the trip pose with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

Last month, 18 students from Hudson’s Journalism and Yearbook classes and the Six-District Modern Communications and Media Production program (Mod Com) had the incredible opportunity to learn more about journalism in San Francisco, CA. Twice a year, JEA/NSPA holds a journalism convention for high school students in which they attend multiple informational sessions about different fields of journalism. Before the convention began, Hudson students arrived in California early, giving us time for sightseeing in the city. Here’s the rundown of everything that happened on the trip.

Tuesday, April 18, began too early. Students were expected to be at the high school at 4:15 a.m. but had to wake up even earlier to get ready and finish packing. Even with limited hours of sleep, students were energetic on the bus ride to the Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Once past airport security, students rushed to Dunkin to fuel up with subpar coffee.

The five-hour flight to San Francisco left around 7 a.m. EST. Because this flight crossed most of the US, there were varying sights outside the plane window. From Colorado’s snowy mountains to California’s wide coastline, we saw unfamiliar landscapes that made it difficult to resist taking pictures.

We landed safely on solid California ground at 9:40 a.m. PST (12:40 p.m. EST). As soon as we got off, we requested Ubers to our hotel. Most groups could get to the Hilton in Union Square without trouble, except for one group that was forced to sit with their luggage on top of them. The drive to the Hilton took us through the Tenderloin district, which is infamous for drugs, homelessness and crime. We avoided this area for the rest of the trip. 

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Students pause for a photo in front of the entrance to Chinatown. (Mrs. Crecelius)

Once at the hotel, we had a moment to decompress from our journey in our rooms. Most of our rooms were in Tower 3 on floor 11, which we would later resent. After refreshing, our group journeyed to Little Italy, which was only a few blocks away. Junior Kai Kurokawa shared that his favorite part of this day was when he “walked around Washington Square (green area) in Little Italy.” All groups later wandered in and out of the stores in Chinatown, finding the city’s cheapest and most unique souvenirs. 

Part of the group felt satisfied with shopping for the day and went back to the hotel. The rest continued to shop, now migrating over to the upscale stores of Union Square. We ventured into chain stores such as Urban Outfitters, Lululemon, Nike and Lego and had the chance to view the cable cars for the first time. 

After this, we regrouped in the hotel. Most students DoorDashed dinner, which would become a daily ritual.

Everyone was ready to fall asleep after eating. Our bodies were still on Ohio time, and it felt three hours later than it really was. The advisors did room checks, and most were dead asleep moments after their heads hit the pillow.

Wednesday, April 19, was the day our group became the epitome of San Franciscan tourists. It was our first full day in California, and we felt rejuvenated from the solid sleep. We began with breakfast at the nearby Cafe Mason and Pinecrest Diner. With full stomachs, we were ready to start our day of sightseeing. 

The first hiccup of the trip dealt with the Hop on, Hop off bus of Big Bus Tours. While we anticipated to “hop on, hop off,” as the name suggests, it was difficult to hop on it in the first place. The first bus that came only had limited seats available, which split up our full group. The next bus was completely full. Despite the aggravation, we stayed in line, and the third bus had room for the rest of our group. 

Our separate groups regrouped at the pastel-colored houses known as the Painted Ladies. Although the houses were built to symbolize the extravagance of the California Gold Rush, most students associated them with Full House. The latter group’s time here was brief, but everyone felt ready for the next stop.

The next stop was at Haight-Ashbury. Sophomore Maddie Little reports that she “enjoyed going into all the stores” and that “the Tie Dye Emporium [aka Love on Haight] was my favorite shop.” This area had many niche clothing and specialized gift shops to visit, but everything in the area was costly. The most criminal price was $8 for a single scoop of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

The Golden Gate Bridge is named after the Golden Gate Strait, which is the entrance into San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. We saw this iconic landmark while on the Hop on, Hop off bus. (Mrs. Crecelius)

With limited time before regrouping at Fisherman’s Wharf, we decided to head there early for extra time to explore that area. It was tourist-central, and our group fit right in. In the area, we found an In-n-Out where many of us tried our first In-n-Out burger. We agreed it wasn’t that good compared to Ohio’s Swensons, but we were glad to get a taste of the West Coast experience. We double-backed to our meeting area with stops in hundreds of souvenir shops and a Starbucks. With ten minutes to spare, we ran to Pier 39 to gush over mobile and sleeping sea lions.

Once the entire group rejoined, we prepared for our trek to Alcatraz for a night tour. On the ferry to the island, the boys of our group (now self-proclaimed the “Shoop Troop”) surprised the ferry with a mischievous plan. Mr. Schupp recalls the vivid moment. “A top three favorite memory [of the trip] for sure was shocking the ferry full of 2,000 people. Me and all my boys wore matching t-shirts, saying ‘Welcome home’ as if we were about to do more time there on the island. It was a classic.” 

Once on the actual island, we participated in an audio tour of the prison. We saw such an eerie contrast between the unsavory prison cells and the gorgeous views of the city skyline that one advisor, Mrs. Bloom, thought, “Looking outside at the beautiful city but not being able to go there was more painful than the actual punishment itself.”

We took advantage of the views when the sun started to set. Our group took many pictures of the sunset by the Golden Gate Bridge before the day turned into night.

When off the island, we ubered to the hotel and had the typical DoorDashed dinner and room checks. That night, we were out like a light, again.

Thursday, April 20, was when we transitioned from sightseeing to convention-run college tours. These college tours would feature the journalism program offered at the school. Of Hudson’s group, ten students visited Stanford and eight visited Berkeley. 

Students visited Stanford University on April 20th. Getting there took an hour, but students claimed the journey was worth it in the end. (Mrs. Crecelius)

The Stanford group was up bright and early at 8 a.m. The commute to the University was an hour long and involved riding the BART (San Francisco Subway system) and the Caltrain. On campus, they met with the editor-in-chief of the Stanford newspaper, The Stanford Daily. After exploring their building and learning about their newspaper-producing process, students went to Palo Alto High School, which is well-known for having multiple media programs. Students saw the papers and magazines Palo Alto produced and took a tour of their extensive building, which had state-of-the-art multimedia equipment. Senior Mia Dezelic reports they “returned to the hotel both impressed with the success of Palo Alto’s media programs and exhausted.” 

In comparison to the extravagance of the Stanford and Palo Alto tour, Berkeley was underwhelming. The tour itself only showed the small graduate journalism building. Without a tour guide for the rest of campus, we explored on our own. The regular Berkeley students were celebrating the day’s holiday by overcrowding the campus, and the high schoolers tried to avoid any suspicious activity. On the BART back to the hotel, the group was tired and needed another break, despite having a less rigorous schedule.

Some evening events of the convention began as we returned. We participated in the trade show, where different booths with tons of free merchandise were set up for all convention members. These booths included colleges with strong journalism programs, yearbook publishing companies and various media entities. The free merchandise was a big draw for students, but talking with the people running the booths and learning about what they were representing was even better.

The convention also offered a publication exchange where students could leave their newspapers and take ones from other schools. Seeing how different these publications were was just as exciting as reading them.

Our school planned to listen to the opening ceremony and keynote address but ditched this idea once we determined it would be hours long. Ms. Crecelius, the journalism advisor, instead took this time to tell us about our assignment for the next two days. Students were required to write notes during the sessions we attended, and she would collect our notebooks at the end of the trip. 

We were then released to choose which sessions we wanted to attend the next day and document our choices before midnight. That night, students dreamed of all the valuable journalistic knowledge they would gain in the next two days.

Friday, April 21, was our first convention day and our last full day in California. Today and tomorrow’s events were the reason for our trip, and students were eager to make each session count.

A popular session that six girls in our group attended was The History of women in sports broadcasting. Although none of us plan to go into that type of journalism, it was informative to learn about the women that paved the way for more equality in sports broadcasting. In addition, hearing of their struggles gave us a deeper appreciation for women in all types of journalism.

One thing the convention offered that wasn’t with a formal speaker was On-site critiques. During this, the editors of The Explorer and Ms. C presented different versions of our paper to a professional journalist. We received great feedback that we hope to apply to next year’s papers. 

All sessions were expertly prepared and engaging, but this one reigned above all. The session, Solo kayaking to Hawaii, was about the incredible 91-day journey Cyril Derreumaux (the speaker) made when kayaking from San Francisco to the Big Island. The concept seemed impossible, but after watching footage of him in action and his explanation of the emotional effects, there wasn’t a doubtful person in the room. Students were most shocked to hear that his next goal was to kayak across the Atlantic Ocean. Despite not being journalism-centered, I received a valuable life lesson about appreciating the little things in life. 

The San Francisco cable cars collect at the end of Powell Street, waiting for more customers. Tickets for a one-way ride are $8. (Mrs. Crecelius)

With sessions done for the day, our group left the hotel and went into the city for the last time. Instead of walking or ubering as we typically did, we rode one of the iconic San Francisco cable cars from Powell St. to the end of Hyde St. Our drop-off stop was so close to Ghirardelli that we could almost taste the chocolate. Alas, we left that area with false promises to return, though we never did. Our dinner reservations weren’t for another hour or more, so we took our time to dabble at tourist traps on the way there.

We ate at Hard Rock Cafe and were surprised to learn the school had paid for it. Once done with our meal, we ubered back to the hotel and settled in for the night.

Students were looking forward to a final night of restful sleep. Unfortunately, that is not what we got.

Saturday, April 22, began at 12:56 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. Floors nine through twelve in Tower three woke up to the blaring of an alarm that sounded like a screaming male voice. It repeated variations of “EVACUATE THE BUILDING” and sounded so loud that it pained our ears.

While some groups left as quickly as possible and rushed down the 11 flights of stairs without even putting shoes on, others remained calm and stayed near their rooms.

Senior Kellen Francis was a part of one of the calmer groups. “I’d never experienced something like that before. I was in Schupp’s group and we just ran straight to his room. He said, ‘Yo guys, it’s a false alarm, chill out.’ We then get back to the room and the alarm goes off three more times and we can’t even sleep. It took about an hour to calm ourselves and fall back asleep.”

We later found that someone on floors nine through twelve had been smoking and triggered a smoke detector.

After sleeping for less than anticipated, our regularly scheduled day was still upon us. It was almost an identical schedule as yesterday, except we had to pack up our luggage and leave our rooms since checkout occurred before our sessions ended. Because of all the shopping done on tourist days and all the free things acquired from the trade show, many students had to force their luggage zippers closed.

HHS Junior Sarah Pacer presents her Enneagram presentation. (Mrs. Crecelius)

For today’s sessions, some students from our group got to lead presentations. Alicia Hoppes presented Using your camera to shine light on the arts, and Julia McDonnell ran Social Media: Let’s get ethical at noon. After those, four of the second-year members of Mod Com gave a talk on how to start a podcast in a session titled Started from the bottom: Now we’re here, and Sarah Pacer determined ideal work situations based on Enneagram types called Stop, collaborate and listen. Each of them did phenomenally during their presentations, and it was clear the extensive amount of time and effort they put into it.

We left the hotel for lunch after the final sessions. Once done, we secured our suitcases from the busy luggage valet.

We ubered back to the airport going through the same sketchy areas we saw on our first Uber ride. Luckily, we arrived at the airport a few hours early, which left us free time to de-stress and chill until the flight. Before we knew it, 10 p.m. had arrived, and it was time to board our red-eye home. Right at the start of takeoff, they dimmed the lights in the cabin so passengers could have a chance to sleep.

Some people slept better than others. Some fell asleep as soon as we were in the air, and others didn’t get a wink or suffered from bloody noses.

Sunday, April 23, was the day we arrived home. Once we were back in Cleveland at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. (which felt like 3 a.m. to us), we loaded back onto another school bus to take us to the high school. We said goodbyes to the people we would see the next day and those we would likely never see again. 

Returning was bittersweet since we had tons of fun on the trip, but we were ready TO see our pets, beds and families. Visiting San Francisco will be remembered by everyone on the trip. We learned valuable information from the sessions we attended during the convention and learned just as much from being in a West Coast city and breaking out of the “Hudson bubble.” The memories and friendships we’ve gained will stay with us forever and potentially be one of our favorite moments from our high school careers.

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About the Contributor
Ava Tallat-Kelpsa
Ava Tallat-Kelpsa, Editor-in-Chief
Ava Tallat-Kelpsa is a senior in her fourth and final year of writing for The ExplorerIn addition to the newspaper, she’s involved with the Model United Nations team, Writing Club, Chamber Choir, Summit Choral Society, teaching PSR and interning at Destination Hudson. In her limited free time, she enjoys traveling, reading A Series of Unfortunate Events and buying more than necessary at garage sales. After high school, Ava plans to pursue journalism at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. 
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