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Reflections on being a Free Spirit

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All 51 free spirits pose on the top of the Newseum, where they spent a week dreaming, daring, and doing.

All 51 free spirits pose on the top of the Newseum, where they spent a week dreaming, daring, and doing.

All 51 free spirits pose on the top of the Newseum, where they spent a week dreaming, daring, and doing.

Grace Fischer, Editor-in-Chief

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The Crusader News Editor-in-Chief Grace Fischer was selected to represent New York State at the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference in Washington, D.C. in June.

Dreamers. Thinkers. Listeners. Creators. Doers. Speakers. Challengers

Any of these words could describe the late Al Neuharth and the free spirits I met this June in Washington, D. C. But, maybe the best way to describe them is as leaders.

Every free spirit loves journalism. We all attended the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference to learn about journalism and become better reporters.

Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, created the Free Spirit Conference to educate aspiring high school journalists.

But aside from workshops, lessons, and trips, who would have known that we would form some of the most important relationships in our lives? I learned something different from each free spirit I met. I found out how they write, and even beyond that, who they are and who they want to be.

Sure, all of us wanted to improve as  journalists, but I found people who wanted to be better speakers, volunteers, thinkers, and leaders.

Very early into our week, it was obvious who the  natural leaders were. But, as I grew closer to others, I found that each free spirit is their own type of leader, whether they can speak beautifully and persuade people, or come up with an idea that could solve any number of problems, or make us think about how we can solve those problems ourselves.

At each free spirit’s high school newspaper in their state, they have individual styles and systems that have made them the most successful student journalists. I was shocked at how many different ways my friends ran their newsrooms. Each one has found the most effective way to lead their staff and create some of the most well-written stories I have ever read.

Every time I talked to another free spirit, I furiously scribbled down every idea that I heard into my notebook. I was so eager to sort through the ideas to make this school’s news organization run as efficiently as possible. I would not have taken anywhere near as much knowledge away from the conference if the other free spirits hadn’t taken their time to show me how they lead.

Each free spirit has a different style because we all are unique leaders. As much as we have the same goals and aspirations for our futures, we are all entirely different in how we write, act, and speak, but especially in how we take the initiative to help make others the best that they can be.

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When The Crusader speaks, the world listens
Reflections on being a Free Spirit