2022 Amazing Kids -Wilsonville
School: Wilsonville High School
WHY SHE’S AMAZING: Fiona serves her community through journalism and ensures every student is reflected in the school newspaper she leads.
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY:
WILSONVILLE HIGH STUDENT
ENSURES EVERY VOICE IS HEARD
With each page of her student newspaper, Fiona Dunn strives to create a community.
Fiona was in elementary school when she realized the impact connections could have on people. When her dad was the varsity basketball coach at Woodburn High School, she often attended the games and was taken back by how many people attended.
“So many people would come to their games and just talk with each other — it was such a fun atmosphere and it was a community,” she said.
Since then, Fiona has utilized journalism to create that sort of communal atmosphere within the schools she attends. As a student at Meridian Creek Middle School, she attempted to start a campus newspaper with the thinking that it was a new school and this could help students get involved. But just as the school was getting legs of its own, the newspaper didn’t take flight.
“Newspapers create a sense of community amongst people, and I think they’re also a way to get people to invest in the community around them because the stories are about the school and not something far away — which only a select few people are interested in. And I liked that idea and thought that a newspaper would really bring (Meridian) together,” Fiona said. “But it wasn’t the right time to start a newspaper there, just because so much was already going on with just opening a new school.”
But as soon as she walked through the Wilsonville High School’s front doors, Fiona was eager to join the school’s Wilsonville Broadcasting Network, the umbrella for the school’s student newspaper. Fiona quickly climbed the ranks and was appointed editor-in-chief earlier this academic year as a junior.
Through the student-led and student-driven school newspaper, Fiona strives to push against the status quo, guiding her reporting team to find their voices in writing and provide glimpses into the varied stories that filter through the high school’s hallways each day.
“(Journalism is) just fun — you can choose what you write about, and I love it because you can choose what you put your time towards. You can create something. In other classes, it’s usually specific, rigid guidelines, and you don’t get to try stuff out and experiment. But I think that trying stuff out is kind of what journalism is about,” said Fiona.
In her leadership position, Fiona said she continually brainstorms different ways to reach as many students as possible — from utilizing their growing social media platforms to meeting with her reporters to make checklists of what topics are not being covered.
This year, the paper has covered topics ranging from student responses to COVID-19 protocols to extracurriculars catching steam and interesting projects individuals in the student body have embarked on. And under her guidance, the broadcast team started a section on the website that translates articles to Spanish.
“When we were going into this school year, I had lots of conversations about: ‘How can we show more of our student body?’ I think that school news sometimes gravitates towards the more mainstream sports and extracurriculars, and a lot of things go unnoticed or aren’t written about as much,” Fiona said. “So (with my role), I really want to make sure that everyone at school is heard — not just a select few.”
One day Fiona aspires to be a lawyer. Although her future may not be documented in print, journalism has equipped her with fundamental skills she will carry forward in her possible career path: time management, organization and communicating with diverse populations.
John Fitzgerald, the teacher who oversees the newspaper, nominated Fiona as a 2022 Amazing Kid because of her passion for serving the community through journalism.
“(Fiona’s) standards of excellence make us all better at telling the stories of Wilsonville High School,” Fitzgerald said.
Fiona added that every time a student gets their hands on one of the school newspapers, she hopes that readers feel seen and that the reporting broadens their perspectives on the school and the students around them.
“I hope that they learn more about the school that they go to and read about students that they did not know about before reading,” she said. “A community doesn’t mean that everyone is exactly the same, but really that everyone is kind to each other. And that they listen to each other, and have conversations.”