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More to Common Ground than in the paper

Tessa StraussBerkeley High Junior
Tuesday October 23, 2001


I am a junior in Common Ground, and also an editor on the Berkeley High School paper, The Jacket. I have been reading your reports on our small school, and I am outraged. I understand that you must back up your staff, and that you have certain views on certain subjects. As news reporters, your job is not to state your opinion, but, more importantly, to inform your readers about what is going on in the community. I know that to publish an article or editorial, there are often intense discussions that precede publication. When we printed the story about the Common Ground Yosemite trip, we had talk after talk about what kind of publicity we wanted to focus around. As it was a news story, we definitely did not want to sensationalize it. What we opted for was just the facts, negative and positive. Besides just printing the Yosemite story, and then forgetting about Common Ground altogether, in our next issue we are printing a story on the field studies that many students are involved in and enjoying immensely.  

No one ever told you to “sit down and shut up.” The parents who wrote to you only hoped that you would include positive slants when you write about Common Ground. So many newspapers print negative views on life; it would be more original to print the good things as well. To report on the wilderness and communications committees that the Common Ground students have formed, along with the problems that occurred in Yosemite, would be honorable.  

As for the trip itself, for me, the point of going was to bond with fellow students and teachers in a beautiful environment. I did just that. I made new friends, took a wonderful scenic walk, and just had fun. Only a small percentage of our group took advantage of the low supervision ratio, and the rest of us had an amazing time. All this despite the obvious lows of having to leave early and having to have to see our teachers, whom we all love dearly, standing before us telling us that we all messed up, that we are leaving, and seeing the tears in their eyes. As for that, yes, we messed up, but it was on everyone, the students and the teachers.  

Our teachers gave us the two things young people have been wanting forever from adults – respect and trust. Because of these teachers, I love going to school. Last year I was just enrolled in BHS, not in a small school. I had many teachers who were not inspired, who didn’t enjoy teaching. I hated school, and was overjoyed when my English teacher told me about Common Ground. My friends and I immediately signed up. All the teachers in Common Ground want to be there, they want to help the school, they want to inspire us students. I can’t wait to get to school each day, and I can’t wait to join the projects that my amazingly creative group of peers come up with. While Common Ground is just shakily getting on its feet, it has amazing and dedicated students and teachers backing it up, trying, and succeeding greatly, to make it the perfect environment. 


Tessa Strauss 

Berkeley High Junior