Dear elder editors,


My time on Verde has taught me that, equipped with just a laptop and a phone recorder, even a 17-year-old girl can make her voice heard. With an audience of several thousand readers, I don’t have to wait until I’m an adult to make a difference in my immediate community. In Verde, I’ve found a home away from home (figuratively, but quite literally during production), a platform from which to kindle change (pun intended) and a catalyst that’s pushed me to grow in ways I never before thought possible.

It is for this reason I am running for Editor-in-Chief — to offer future Verdites the opportunities I was lucky to receive and to blaze new trails in a magazine that’s pushed the boundaries of student journalism for almost 20 years now.

My zest for journalism is fueled by this conviction — that Verde grants writers a uniquely high degree of autonomy to explore untold stories and, in doing so, mold the world they would like to see. This is why I come to every class energetic and enthusiastic, why I arrive early and stay late at every production, why for my birthday last year I asked for an InDesign student subscription and why I ardently pursue journalism in and outside the classroom. From running and organizing Norcal Media Day this year to interning with the Stanford Daily last summer, I strive to share my love for journalism with others, which I hope to do as an EiC.

Beyond my untamable energy for all things Verde, I believe my grit also makes me a qualified candidate. Whether it’s poring over hundred-page OCR release documents for “Diorio’s Dilemma,” meeting with an undocumented mother near her home in East Palo Alto or scrounging the historical association archives to dig up a buried past in “A Heritage of Hatred,” I embrace challenges when they arise and am not afraid to take risks in pursuit of the truth. If a story is worth sharing or an idea holds merit, I will devote all my energy to making it happen, even if it means navigating uncharted territory.

In addition, my breadth of skills and experiences prepare me well to oversee the magazine. From exposés on district blunders to profiles on unsung heroes to satirical perspectives on echo chambers, I’ve written both hard-hitting and heart-warming stories and can offer guidance on a range of subjects. After years of design classes (my childhood dream was to be a graphic designer) and experimentation of my own, I now possess strong technical skills in Photoshop, InDesign, Wordpress and Storyform, which I’ve used to craft engaging print and digital layouts and help my peers troubleshoot and create aesthetic designs of their own.

As news editor, I’ve learned to balance supporting and asserting, working with writers to get their stories in on time without experiencing undue stress. My time as an editor also gave me valuable practice in resolving conflicts and finding compromise. By thinking one step deeper, I was able to find creative solutions to seemingly impossible situations, whether it was a storyboard snafu or figuring out how to fit a writer’s infographic into an already-packed news section.

Through my time as a board member for Paly’s Youth Community Service club, I’ve learned to delegate tasks and plan meticulously in advance to pull off large-scale events such as our annual Service Day, which attracted more than 200 volunteers last year. Finally, serving as a director of Jordan debate club has been a lesson in patience and planning. Not only will my experience creating curriculum and leading classes mesh well with the responsibilities of an EiC, if I can handle a class of angsty middle schoolers, surely a class of driven student journalists won’t be too bad.

As a traditionally print publication, pivoting to digital can be tough; as it is, online elements are often an afterthought in the production process. While our digital issue is a great start, digital elements should be an integral part of every story. Designating an official videographer, instituting digital checks, creating a digital element board, devoting class time to digital element tutorials and promoting stories through social media community groups are all ways we could amp up our online readership. Given the opportunity, I would be excited to make these ideas a reality.

My love for Verde began even before I joined, but since I became a part of this staff, it has only grown exponentially. Thank you for always seeking out the stories that need to be told, cultivating a space where I’ve been able to come into my own and, most of all, for the surprise ice cream parties. Through serving as an Editor-in-Chief, I hope to inspire readers and future Verdites in the same way you’ve inspired me.



Ashley Hitchings