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TEEN SCENE: P.E.I. students share the adventures of co-op

Emily Doucette, left, from Bluefield High School, and Payton Jakubowski, from Colonel Gray High School, are working in The Guardian newsroom for their co-op placements.  ©THE GUARDIAN
Emily Doucette, left, from Bluefield High School, and Payton Jakubowski, from Colonel Gray High School, are working in The Guardian newsroom for their co-op placements. ©THE GUARDIAN - Nigel Armstrong

Over the past five months, we’ve been lucky enough to work alongside the reporters of The Guardian newspaper, through our schools’ co-op programs. We were even given the chance to share a weekly article in the Monday paper.

Over the semester, we’ve learned a lot — not just about journalism, but also about the whole kit and caboodle. We got to experience many things, and we have had a lot of fun doing so.

The co-op — or co-operative — learning program offered at many P.E.I. high schools gives students the opportunity to experience a workplace of their choice. At Colonel Gray and Bluefield, where we attend, the program is a two-block class, either before or after lunch, which also gives students two high school credits. Students are given the chance to leave school and experience hands-on work at their preferred occupation. Some examples include assisting the chef at a restaurant, working with a mechanic, shadowing a teacher — or writing for the newspaper.

From this experience we’ve learned many things, and discovered what it means to be a journalist. A lot of people don’t know what the day-to-day work is for a journalist. They assume that journalists create a story, and that’s that. The truth is, a lot more goes into a story. A reporter has to interview people, and research what they want to write about. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t make it up like a children’s fairy tale. We know this first hand. Sometimes you’ll have a brilliant idea, and you’ll do the research and prepare your notes, but in the end some stories just will not work out, no matter how hard you try. To add to your frustration, they rules you learned in high school English class don’t necessarily apply in the world of media writing. Journalists believe you can start a paragraph with the word “but.” They need to stop.

During our placement at The Guardian we encountered a variety of tasks. We sat in during legislature and court. Needless to say, politicians can be immature and P.E.I. Provincial Court Judge Nancy Orr is not to be trifled with. We also faced rejection –  often. Reporters go out into the streets to ask the public questions. Please answer them! For all you know, they have been standing in the cold for hours, listening to person after person saying “no.” It’s not fun, not in the slightest. It can be difficult to get a task done, yet rewarding at the same time. After all, we are published writers now.

Quite honestly, the best part of co-op was the people. Everyone at The Guardian has a great personality. They’re so much fun to be around. They’re always supportive and they compliment you on your articles. The newsroom is always filled with banter that brings a smile to your face. And food — you can never go hungry here. Working at The Guardian has been an amazing experience. We are grateful for this chance.

Co-op is most likely one of the most rewarding classes you could take in high school. It gives you an honest look at an occupation. It’s better if you try a career you’re actually considering. If you don’t like it — don’t do it. If you do like it, woohoo, career options! It’s more beneficial if you take it in Grade 11, before you decide on the path you’ll take in high school. It gives you better education than you’ll ever get in a classroom. Therefore, in the end, don’t take our word for it.

Try it for yourself.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Emily Doucette and Payton Jakubowski are high school students finishing their co-op placement at The Guardian.

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