“The opportunity to be heard”: Lillian Drueding, Managing Editor

The Holly Spirit became my forum to launch my personal vendetta against diet culture and mental health stigma. 

In April of sophomore year, in the midst of online school, I decided it was my mission to spread my message about the harmful effects of dieting. Without planning what I would write beyond this single article and with only about two months left in the year’s paper, I emailed Sherm to join the Holly Spirit.

The Opinions Desk, at that point, became my podium for the messages I wanted to spread. It was my purpose. On my own, my words were limited to social media posts with limited to no impact—but here, in the Holly Spirit, I had a platform of people to listen. I could be the voice of students, and be the messenger of a new perspective to parents and teachers.

It’s funny because, at this point, Sherm didn’t even know what I looked like—and yet today, she is the teacher I continuously go to for everything (including three whole reference letters…sorry Sherm). During my first year on the paper, our meetings were limited to zoom meetings, but although my face couldn’t be seen, my voice could be heard. I moved from my first article about dieting to ones about mental and physical health, and I got my first award of a pub-cycle in my article for Best Lead in my article “Positive weight gain and the misconception of the scale.” 

With these accomplishments I felt a concrete sense of purpose, but it was one teacher’s email whose words made me feel like my articles could be impactful to the school community. Even after I cleared out my inbox, I kept this one particular email, who said:

“I was just catching up on the past month of the Holly Spirit, and felt compelled to email you to say that your articles are so powerful and valuable for our school community. The intelligent way you’re able to break down tough topics related to physical/mental health is impressive, and I’m sure is serving to help a lot of students think through their own experiences.”

So as a senior, my advice to underclassmen interested in the Holly Spirit is not to join merely out of the desire to pad a resume, but instead the opportunity to be heard—and truly heard—by the community around you. Trust me, people will hear you. And the struggles you have or the passions you share with other students are worth writing about. You never know who is listening.

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