Building a Future the “Write” Way

Student Profile: Justice Trapp, Lawrence County High School.

Professionals in every field know that few skills propel a career as much as the ability to write well.  Those who are skilled writers are able to produce the essays that capture the attention of scholarship committees and college admissions boards; to move through graduate programs; to publish papers, present at conferences, and become the recognized people in their field – from education and engineering to medicine and business.  Justice Trapp is a writer.

The Editor-in-Chief of Lawrence County High School’s student newspaper, The Wildcat, Justice has the ability to carry his readers through an exploration of a variety of topics from the excitement and turbulence of adolescence, “Becoming Me,” to the need for compassion and the importance of watching out for one another, “Where’s the Love?”.

“I write these as a way to tell my story and to connect with other students,” Justice says.  “We all have a lot in common and if a student is going through something, it helps to know they are not alone; that others are dealing with many of the same things.”

In his position as editor, he is also aware of hooking readers, the impact of placement within the newspaper and other issues.  “I have different responsibilities as editor and I don’t get to write as much.  But I know that the editorial is the second thing they see in the paper, after the lead story, and I try to write articles that open up conversation and thinking about things.  Some [articles] come quickly while with others, I have to try to word it the best I can.”

This vision gives the paper a different attitude.  Indeed, while The Wildcat follows the traditions of student newspapers, covering the latest ball game and student news, its writers creatively explore other topics as well as current events that may appeal to high school students or affect their lives.

As editor, Justice recognizes his leadership role as well as the necessity for a full team effort including the staff and the advisor, Melissa Brazier.

“This is the biggest staff ever and the first time we have taken it completely online, so at first, there was a lot of pressure.  But now it has calmed down and we’re in a groove where it… flows,” Justice says, chuckling.

Like many modern newspapers, the time-consuming and, often, disheartening efforts to sell ads for a printed edition, led to the decision to go online.  But, the appeal for “holding a newspaper in your hands” remains strong for some students, and Justice says that future editions may offer online, as well as a limited number of printed editions.

Justice traces his own writing efforts to 7th grade when he developed an attraction to poetry as an outlet for self-expression.  He began entering poetry competitions into high school and was a semi-finalist in the American Library of Poetry Competition.  One way to continue developing as a writer was through the student newspaper.  “The first year I could get on staff, I applied and made it.”

His mother influenced that focused, can-do attitude.   Raised by a single-parent, surrounded by aunts, and with no strong father-figure as a role model, Justice feels empowered.  “It has helped to see how these women act and react to things.  I think I generally take things to a deeper level and it helps to see that you can be independent.” As he writes in “Becoming Me, Part 2”:  “Looking back…it makes me proud of my mother for overcoming,”  and enabling her son to “learn the difference between need and want, and to not take things for granted.”

He will carry these lessons into college in the fall when he begins his freshman year at Austin Peay State University to pursue a degree in nursing, with the eventual goal of becoming a nurse practitioner.  He plans to continue with creative writing, things that touch the heart, and hopes to write in the medical field.  But he has many options available.

“I’ve had a good life here,” he says.  “Living with a single mom in a small town has made me a better person.  I’ve always wanted to go to Nashville, but I don’t see myself living there more than a few years.  I’ve always had an interest in helping people – not just making money, but helping people.”

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