Meet the Bearchat


Melissa Oberholtzer

Some of the 2022 Journalism UIL team show off their achievements


A team of 11 students. One website. A story to write at all times. Staff ready to do whatever it takes to get the voice and stories of the students out there. This is The Bearchat.

For the hardworking students on the school’s media team, writing is their life.

“Writing is one of the most important skills you can have.” Melissa Oberholtzer, Bearkat Student Media’s advisor, said. “It is so powerful because it’s a form of thinking. Putting ideas down on paper can do so much. For example, writing can change minds, it can change behaviors, and it can even change lives. The right words written at the right time by the right people can make a huge difference.”

Writing has influenced the staff in more ways than one. 

“I’ve always been drawn to creative writing in particular because I see it as the perfect medium for self-expression,” junior Madison McClesky, staff writer, said. “Writing is so much more subjective than other art forms. It is far more difficult to objectively evaluate writing than the visual arts because the way we view language and storytelling is unique to every person. As the old adage goes, someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure, and I think that’s especially applicable to writing. There is always a reason to appreciate the story an author has to tell; it’s only a matter of finding the right person to appreciate it.”

While journalistic writing isn’t what most people are used to, it’s a boon to know in the professional world. Senior Andrew Duncan, a staff writer, joined the Newspaper to experience what the journalism profession might be like, and to see if he would enjoy it. An added plus is the experience of UIL, a statewide competition that, for journalism, has five separate competitions.

“I took Journalism one as one of my electives freshman year and Mrs. O extended the invitation to compete in the editorial event for UIL,” sophomore Elle Voisin, staff writer, said. “I decided I would give it a shot, ’cause what’s the harm in it? I ended up doing really well. I got third place in District and sixth in Region, and I found I absolutely loved the people on the newspaper staff. I was on the fence beforehand, but after that experience, I knew for sure I wanted to be a part of the newspaper staff.”

A lot of the staff compete in UIL, most going to Region and some even going to State. Bearkat Student Media entered eight students in District UIL last year, and each one placed. Seven of those students went to Region, with at least one student competing in each competition. Nadia Esquivel, junior and one of the editors-in-chief of the newspaper, managed to place fifth in State in the copy editing competition.

“I loved being able to try new things and compete in things I enjoy doing with all my friends,” Esquivel said.

During fourth period, most of the staff comes together and buckles down on their various stories. But it’s not all work and no play. Sarah Simmons, sophomore and staff writer, said, “the class is so much fun and a total stress reliever.” The class bonds through birthday celebrations and often pair up on stories to make them more interesting.

“I like the vibes in the room and writing, in general, is just a lot of fun,” Simmons said. “And plus, half the time we’re working and the other half of the time Augusto’s just being annoying and loud and it’s a lot of fun. It’s just overall a great vibe.”

When writing stories about the various events happening around school, the staff meets a wide array of people. 

“I think the part I like the most is getting to know their story,” senior Augusto Moreno, staff writer, and producer for broadcast said. “I always like to know the background or the something that makes them different from the rest, their personal lives. They’re great people that do great stuff, … and whenever I get to meet them, talk to them and interview them, I get to find that out and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, this person is so cool, is so awesome.’ Something you wouldn’t know if you didn’t interview them. It’s a great way to know your [classmates] are into more than just school.”