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Thomas Toghramadjian Opinion Editor 2013-2014

News Editor 2012-2013

Staff Writer 2011-2012


Resume & Reflection Thomas Toghramadjian 10951 Flanders Ct. NE Blaine, MN 55449 ttoghramadjian@gmail.com Education: 2011: • Journalism Education Association/ National Student Press Association National High School Convention Attended sessions on Ethnic Journalism (I thought it was Ethics in Journalism), Editorial leadership, sports writing, broadcast journalism, page design, and on telling compelling stories. • Writing for Publication I 2012: • Writing for Publication II •

MHSPA State Convention

Attended a portion of the state convention after reporting on an assembly with Tim Pawlenty, watched Bobby Harrower lecture. Experience: May 2013: Opinion Editor, The Rubicon Responsibilities include: • Determining section content • Writing story assignments and editing all pieces. • Designing two Op/Ed pages in a four week cycle • Contributing to a pre-critique and post-critique • Uploading content to The Rubicon Online • Editing the staff editorial and writing or assigning mini-editorials • Writing stories for other sections 2012-2013 News Editor, The Rubicon Responsibilities include: • • • • • • •

Determining section content Writing story assignments and editing all pieces Designing two to three News pages in a four week cycle Contributing to a pre-critique and post-critique Uploading content to The Rubicon Online Writing stories for other sections Editing or writing news-in-briefs

2011-2012 Staff Writer: The Rubicon • Writing at least one story to be considered for publication in every issue • Helping copy edit pages • Co-designing pages with other Writing for Publication students. Special Skills: • Hard-earned proficiency in Adobe InDesign • Strong opinion writing abilities • Never have been rejected when requesting permission for an image • General knowledge of AP style requirements • Ability to produce a great deal of content on short notice. Individual Awards: • NSPA Honor Roll 2012 and 2013 • MHSPA State Honor Roll • North Star Editor 2013 The Rubicon Awards: • JEM all-state gold


Resume & Reflection • •

MHSPA BEST IN Show 2nd Place NSPA All American with 4 marks of distinction CSPA Silver Medal

Thomas Toghramadjian 10951 Flanders Ct. NE Blaine, MN 55449 ttoghramadjian@gmail.com

Working as an editor on The Rubicon takes more time, commitment, and personal accountability than most regular classes. While journalism is graded on an A to F scale, the real measure of a person’s achievement on the staff lies in the trust their fellow editors have for them, in the stories they tell through their writing, and in every monthly issue that goes to press. My experience on The Rubicon has sometimes been frustrating and always been exceptionally difficult, but it also has rewarded me with an abundance of lessons in collaboration and professional relationships. When I come back next fall as the Opinion Editor, I know I will be part of a staff I can be an integral part of, and we have an adviser who I’ve learned I can rely on and be honest with. I signed up for Writing for Publication freshman year because I loved writing, without the slightest ambition of seeing Editor in Chief or Managing Editor on my byline some day. I wanted to tell stories and share my opinions more than I wanted to rack up MHSPA and JEA awards. Listening to keynote speakers at journalism conventions reinforced this perspective. I listened harder when they talked about telling a compelling story that captured the essence of somebody’s experience than I did when they explained an effective multimedia package. The way I see it, page design and Facebook updates can trick somebody into picking up a paper, but compelling writing is what wins the reader’s respect and keeps them coming back. The rest is just packaging. First and foremost, The Rubicon exists as a student newspaper. That means our job is to serve the SPA’s student body and tell the stories that matter to them. The fate of each issue is determined less in the frantic week before drop than it is in the brainstorming session where we decide which stories deserve publication. Good stories write themselves independently of three draft cycles and Maestro sessions. For example, August King, not renowned for his strict adherence to deadlines, produced possibly our most interesting and moving piece of the year, the January centerspread article about a student’s experience with an excessively strict ballet school. That story didn’t happen at SPA. It doesn’t concern most of us, and yet everybody read it start to finish. There ought to be a story like that in every issue. For me, the real measure of success for our paper is not in the awards we win. We announce them in assembly, everybody claps and is impressed, and they forget by lunchtime. Even as more and more reviewers laud our paper, fewer and fewer students read and respect it. That’s the truth, and I have seen it firsthand. We have to win back our readership, tell their stories, and the awards will follow. I have high hopes for in that respect, and firmly believe it is an attainable and sustainable goal. Good stories start with good writers. Only the person assigned to do interviews and write the first draft can make it outstanding. As editors, then, our purpose is to facilitate good writing. That means being firm on deadline when they are habitually procrastinating, but giving stories time to take shape. The best stories are often written in one fell swoop, not in three rushed drafts. As a top editor next year, I hope to view each article as a masterpiece in the making rather than a part of a package or a collection of words that fill two columns on my page. Our paper is a good one. It’s professional, it’s elegant, and it has a legacy of excellence. I just plan to make it a more compelling publication as well.


Opinion Writing (November 2012 and April 2013) Maintaining a secure News Editor school environment is an important priority, and one that school administration cannot afford to neglect. However, the safety of students and our possessions does not always need to conflict with accessibility. For example, rather than escorting students to their lockers after hours, the security staff would be more effectively mobilized at the building’s entrances, where they can keep an eye on the traffic coming in and out. Similarly, instead of sweeping vacant wings of the building looking for students to escort to the Summit Center or gym foyer, the security staff could simply walk the same rounds, checking for unauthorized visitors but leaving students to work. Steps like these are not only a matter of allowing students to work wherever they please. Some portions of the school, like the publications and art wing, are home to equipment unavailable anywhere else. Escorting a yearbook writer on deadline away from the computer with his page on it does much more harm than good. More broadly, this is an issue of trust. The vast majority of us are capable of behaving appropriately without adult supervision. Of course, students should not be allowed to run amok around the building, but choosing who to expel and who to leave alone is a judgment call St. Paul Academy and Summit School’s security personnel should be allowed to make. Ask vandals to leave and let the photographers working in the darkroom stay. It’s that simple. Of course, the school administration has students’ best interests at heart, and it is unfair to attack security guards who are only doing their jobs. In addition, the security staff has already shown itself to be flexible, delaying the locking of the inner doors to accommodate athletes finishing late practices. However, the administration has an obligation to maintain a dialogue with students to ascertain which security practices interfere most with our ability to use the facilities at our disposal. Accommodating the Upper School Council’s request for a meeting, or authorizing the Head of Security to talk with students and reply to their concerns would go a long way toward this end. Safety is key, but it needs to go hand in hand with communication.

Thomas Toghramadjian

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After avidly following the presidential election, it hurt to see pundits suiddenly deciding that Romney was doomed all along due to his many deficiencies as a candidate. I didn’t think this hindsight was 20/20, so to speak, so I wrote an an article contending that Romney was overmatched on campaign machinery and public perception rather than on policy. My work as an opinion writer generally deals with international and national subject matter, but writing a piece about my school’s security practices had a more immediate angle. I thought of the idea for the story myself after being ejected from the publications room on more than one deadline, but I put a lot of effort into understanding the reasons for school policy to make it fair. Taking steps to inform myself made the criticism more difficult to discount. This story drew much more of a reaction from my friends than my other work has because the matter directly impacted them.


Opinion Writing (March 2013)

After writing so many of my own opinion for the paper, it was strange to approach editorial writing as more of a summary of everybody’s viewpoints. I incorporated them, but I added some of my own ideas about avoiding accusations of “entitlement.”


Opinion Writing (September 2012)

This story was the first really political piece I had published in the paper. I wish the Opinion Editor had chosen a headline that better reflected the true content of the story, and not inserted broad condemnations of both parties. It might have been an editorial advocating for more decency, but it was a partisan piece as well.


Opinion Writing (October 2012)

I applied experience from debating the public forum resolution “Resolved: Current American foregin policy in the Middle East undermines national security� to this opinion piece, using the most compelling arguments against the president’s ostensibly sterling record in the area. A major point about Obama reneging on a promise to build missile defense systems for Poland was omitted due to space concerns, and a lot of my arguments lost their nuance because the piece was cut down from roughly 1,000 words to 800 or so. While I was proud of it, it illustrates how I had issues keeping my arguments concise.


Feature Writing (September 2012)

This piece presented me with two possible biases: an election I felt passionately about and the involvement of my brother Hagop. I chose to interview him in the same way I did the others- in person with two day’s notice so I didn’t present him with an unfair advantage, and I stuck to quoting the student activists’ opinions about the elections and limiting my own voice to describing their roles in their respective camapaigns.


Feature Writing (April 2013)

Thomas Toghramadjian

Her position News Editormight be less visible than an Upper School Council or Student Activities Committee presidency, and her face isn’t frequently seen in assembly, but the work of Aditi Kulkarni has deeply permeated St. Paul Academy and Summit School. As Editor-In-Chief of The Rubicon, Kulkarni has presided over and signed off on every edition of the paper this year. Kulkarni received some well-deserved recognition for her efforts after being selected by the Journalism Education Association as the Journalist Of the Year for the entire state of Minnesota. “[Journalism Advisor] Ms. Campbell told me about journalistic scholarship opportunities, and I decided that I would [apply]. I thought that it would be a good way to set up a portfolio and get my work out,” Kulkarni said. Her portfolio will next be reviewed by a panel of judges who will determine the winner for the entire country, as well as several runner-ups. “I’m not really expecting anything from nationals, but it’s an honor

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knowing my portfolio will be judged on that level,” she said. The award constitutes not only a prestigious accomplishment for Kulkarni, but also the culmination of her three years in journalism at SPA. She entered Writing for Publication in her sophomore year, hoping to do some sports writing for the paper, not knowing how far her career would eventually go. Despite the broad curriculum of the class, Kulkarni wanted to continue her focus on sports reporting. She got her chance, becoming editor of the sports section in her junior year. As an editor, Kulkarni developed her skills in photography, becoming a presence at sporting events year round. Improbable action shots became a hallmark of her tenure as sports editor. “My photography gave me opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise, like riding the bus with the boys soccer team to their games at the Dome,” Kulkarni said. As Editor-in-Chief, Kulkarni’s primary goal was to foster dialogue and mutual understanding between members of The Rubicon staff.“I wanted people to get their drafts in on time, but also make sure that I was able to listen,” she said. “I want to leave a legacy of making sure that journalists here are trained in all aspects of their work. I

There wasn’t much of a problem with conflict of interest in this story, even though Aditi was my editor-in-chief and a friend of mine. She got some praise in the story, but no more than others have given her and no less than such an accomplishment merited. Incidentially, this portfolio is based off of the one mentioned in the story.ww


Feature Writing (March 2013) This story took two months to write, mostly because Lizbeth was initially apprehensive about an interview in English. We eventually had one over email and another in person. She was very pleased with the end result and showed the paper around for three days or so. It was far and away my favorite feature piece I have written, because I thought it captured her love for her country, past academic achievement, and the scope of her ambition.


News Writing (January-February 2013) While a schedule change had been in the works for some time, it was still a surprise when it was finally released in its entirety. The announcement happened very close to our drop date, so I waived the usual policy of not writing for one’s own section and put together the story in two or three days. I owe our Writing for Publications class a favor for putting together the sidebar of student input that really gives life to the page. Mostly because of the announcement but partially because of the story, students adjusted to the news quickly, and most began to look forward to the once-dreaded change to a block schedule.


News Writing (September 2012)


News Writing (May 2013)


Sports Writing (January-February 2013, and November 2012)

Tommy Toghramadjian

Tommy Toghramadjian

After last season ended with a heartbreaking overtime loss to Concordia Academy in the sectional semifinals last year, Boys Varsity Basketball returns with the same starting lineup. “I don’t think we need to change much, we just need to make sure we stay focused and work towards a common goal and play as a team,” senior captain Spencer Egly said. The same team that pulled out a stunning victory against Minnehaha in last year’s sectional tournament expects to drive deep in this year’s tournament. “I think we can really make a run deep into sections and make it to state. We have a great group of guys who love to work hard and enjoy being part of the team atmosphere,” Egly said.

Girls Varsity Basketball enters the 2012-2013 season after graduating several senior players. The only returning starter is senior Lauren Ademite, and the starting lineup includes only two upperclassmen. Regardless, the team hopes to build on the success of last season, when they made it to the second round of the tournament for the first time in years. “I think we will be pretty competitive playing against teams in our conference this year. Considering how many starters we lost,” senior captain Maddie Hanson said. “We have a really young team, so a lot of room to improve throughout the season.” Hanson touts the matchups against Blake, Brooklyn Center, and Visitation as some this year’s most important games.

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News Editor

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News Editor


Photography (September 2012)

I like the bird’s-eye view perspective on this shot. It took at least thirty tries from the bridge over the gym to get the lines of the SPARTANS on the wall and the ventilating shaft, plus most of the floor.


Photography (October 2012)

Tim Pawlenty

Republican

Photo Credit: Thomas Toghramadjian Former Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty talks about national issues in assembly. “I thought he was very respectful of his audience, sophomore Sonja Mischke said.

I took this one walking out of the gym after taking some unsatisfactory pictures of a basketball game in the back. I sort of subtly snapped a few pictures of the volleyball game and this one turned out okay.


September News Spread


September News Spread


October News Spread


October News Spread


October News Spread


November News Spread


November News Spread

Probably the best headline I have ever written


December News Spread


December News Spread


January/February News Spread


January/February News Spread


January/February News Spread


March News Spread This was the best spread I designed in my tenure as News Editor. The best part of the page is the clean banner picture above the text. Lucy did an excellent job taking it. It makes an page that is otherwise very busy appear clean and elegant. The alternative copy for the Speaker Day sections was refreshing for a section with generally predictable design.


March News Spread


April News Spread


April News Spread I toyed with the idea of adding another banner picture for the elections, but none of the pictures fit and I liked how the one on the right captured the nervousness that I and the other candidates felt before addressing the entire Upper School. The one of Mick and Claire has the opposite effect, since they both seem at ease. Between them, they show the incongrous mixture of pomp and informalty in the election process


May Opinion Spread


May Opinion Spread This page is radically different from my News section, lit up with infographics and alternative copy. I spent six hours outside of class perfecting it, but relied more on help from the staff adviser and other editors than I normally would.


Online Thomas Toghramadjian

The Boston MaraOpinions Editorthon bombings represent a troubling shift from ambitious terrorist attempts on well-secured airliners to domestic attacks that are harder to anticipate and defend against. Viewed in conjunction with high-profile massacres in Tucson, Aurora, and Newtown, these attacks give Americans good reason to feel less safe in public places. The horror of witnessing these events play out in real time can too easily creep into our collective psyche.

There is no case for naiveté, or apathy. Increased security at high-profile events, common-sense gun control measures in congress, and more cooperation and understanding between citizens and the law enforcement officers meant to protect them, will all help prevent tomorrow’s Times Square bomber or would-be shooter. But amid all of these precautions, Americans must try, as hard as it may be, to trust their neighbors, and to send their children off to school without wondering if they will come back alive. At the finish line at next year’s Boston Marathon, the runners should see their families and friends, not grim-faced policemen with AR-15s.

This tumult of violence leaves scars even beyond the grieving families and crippled victims. It impacts the innocence and openness of communities across the country. It deters us from reveling in the joy at the finish line of a hard-fought race. It brings suggestions of armed guards in elementary schools. It makes parents scramble for Teflon backpacks, and it keeps elected officials like Gabrielle Giffords from reaching out to their constituents at supermarkets and state fairs. Even as each tragedy brings Americans closer together, it drives us further apart by increasing collective suspicion of Muslims or the mentally ill.

When he addressed the nation after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended in Watertown, President Obama said to the brothers that they had failed in their objective. The scores of innocents who they maimed will walk again, work again, and live fully again. Each of the victims killed, from eight-year old Martin Richard to MIT campus policeman Sean Collier, lived a far more memorable life than either of the deranged pair. The city of Boston shut down, not out of fear, but out of an unshakeable resolve to see justice served. In trying to undermine American society, the bombers succeeded only in affirming what makes it beautiful.

It’s impossible to reclaim the feeling of utter safety the spectators at the Boston Marathon surely felt as they waited for their loved ones to cross the finish line. Moviegoers will shoot nervous glances at the theatre doors, half expecting an armed and masked maniac to emerge. We don’t have to live like this but, thanks to a handful of troubled young men, we will.

But they will have won some small victory if their sick publicity stunt or political statement leaves as much paranoia as it does mourning. Whatever motivated them to pack pressure cookers with nails and ball bearings, it should not be allowed to make us look over our shoulders, or sleep with one eye open. Only then, can we say with absolute assurance that America has endured, once more triumphing over the hate of our enemies

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I reported on the entire Boston Marathon bombing and manhunt as it broke, and it moved me enough to write this article on how we should respond to such tragedies. I wish it had made the print edition, buit there wasn’t much space.


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Spartan Boys Varsity Tennis has Opinions Editor become a perennial contender for the state championship in recent years. According to senior captain Jeremy Tong, the team entered the season with high expectations, but despite a very respectable 5-4 record, feels slightly let down. “Blake is gonna win state,” he said. Nevertheless, the team has remained competitive. Tong cites his co-captain senior Matt Henneman and junior Nick Ozolins as bright spots in an otherwise unremarkable season. Ozolins and Henneman played as a doubles team against Blake. “Matt and I played some all-state players and won the first set, lost the second, and lost the tiebreaker 9-11, but it was really exciting to play well against whose guys,” Ozolins said. Another high point in the season was the match against Mounds Park Academy. “Beating MPA was memorable because of the constant rivalry between the tennis teams,” Ozolins said. Any lingering disappointment the tennis players have is a product of their exceptionally high expectations and potential. Although this season did not live up to their standards, a strong returning core of juniors, as well as a healthy representation of underclassmen, indicates that the team will have many more opportunities in coming years.

Thomas Toghramadjian After the start of his second term was riddled by Opinions Editor the fiscal cliff crisis and ongoing sequestration, President Obama’s administration finds itself beset by a multitude of controversies. While returning allegations about a cover up concerning the Sept. 11 attacks on the Benghazi consulate remain largely unsubstantiated, other accusations are proving harder to shrug off. Among them is the news that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups during the 2012 election season, over which IRS commissioner Steven Miller has already resigned, although his term was due to expire three weeks after his resignation anyway. The White House has released statements saying that neither Obama nor his aides were aware of the targeting, and the president has expressed outrage over the scandal.

Thomas Toghramadjian

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An even greater charge, that the Justice Department secretly obtained phone records from twenty phone lines for the Associated Press has been substantiated in public statements by spokespersons for both entities. As the Justice Department is a part of the executive branch, this charge also profoundly affects Obama, although he has expressed his ignorance and disappointment over it as well. The flood continued on Sunday, May 19 when the Washington Post revealed from court documents that the Justice Department had also monitored and filed charges against Fox reporter James Rosen between 2010 and 2011 for publishing information on North Korea provided to him by Steven Kim. The Justice Department has never before prosecuted a journalist for publishing leaked information. Since 2008, the Obama Administration has filed six criminal cases under the Espionage Act, more than all other administrations combined.

After a lengthy bout with cancer, Opinions Editor Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died on Mar. 5. Chavez was known best for his sweeping “Bolivarian Revolution,” a plan to transform Venezuela, a nation with massive income disparities, into a socialist society. He was also notorious for his staunch anti-American rhetoric, his admiration of Fidel Castro, and his policy of extensive aid to Cuba. Chavez’ political career began after he led an unsuccessful 1992 coup against then-President Carlos Andres Perez. Six years later, he was elected democratically, the youngest president in Venezuelan history.

Thomas Toghramadjian

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During his presidency, Chavez often clashed with George W. Bush, whom he called “the devil.” Chavez’ rule was characterized by diversion of oil revenues to largely ineffective social programs and government corruption. Nonetheless, he cultivated a great rapport with the poor of Venezuela, ensuring his frequent reelection. Former vice president Nicolas Maduro will take control of the country for thirty days, until elections are held. Maduro, carrying Chavez’ endorsement, is expected to win and become the new president of Venezuela.

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Online Q&A with Max Lipset 1. What is the guiding principle or idea behind Kaizen? How is it different from other strength training programs? Kaizen is a Japanese word coming from the Samurai that means constant improvement. The Samurai lived under a strict code of discipline, loyalty and humility where they served an ideal. My interpretation of Kaizen isn’t quite that serious but I like the idea of trying to improve everyday. I think that you have to have a certain amount of humility to really try to get better every day. If you think that you’re the best athlete in the world, it’s hard to know what needs improvement. Having coached NFL, NHL, and MLS athletes as well as Olympian, Soccer, Track and Field and Cross Country skiing athletes, I’ve found over and over again that the best athletes in the world know exactly what their weaknesses are and are doing everything in their power to improve them. Even the best athletes in the world know there are things other people are better at than them and that’s how they train. I try to create a training environment that facilitates this type of investigation and discovery. I recently read a story about a high school football coach going to watch Joe Montana practice. He was shocked by the simplicity of Montana’s training session. Montana had recently won the Super Bowl. He said he watched Montana just taking snaps and practicing his first few steps after receiving the ball for over an hour. He couldn’t believe this because such a simple drill would bore most high school, college and pro quarterbacks to tears. The point is Montana was spending his time practicing and trying to improve his most fundamental skills. This is what training is and that is Kaizen. 2. In what capacity do you work with student athletes? I work with SPA student athletes in several capacities. I am the Varsity Boy’s Soccer Co-Head Coach. I am an assistant Track and Field Coach and I was the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Boy’s and Girl’s Basketball and Hockey Programs over the winter. I also work with some of the athletes outside of school on an individual basis or in small groups. We use the SPA facilities quite often and I also use Los Campeones, “The Best Gym in Town”, in Minneapolis, for some individual and small-group training. I work with SPA student athletes on strength, power, agility, speed, quickness, endurance, stamina, flexibility, coordination, accuracy, movement mechanics, performance psychology, goal setting and nutrition as it applies to their specific sport. 3. What have been some of the most notable results you have observed in athletes following your curriculum? The best part of my job is being able to participate and observe the results that take place when an athlete or a group of athletes commits to an effective strength and conditioning program. I have seen some unbelievable results over the years. With the professional athletes I have coached, I have seen them win championships in MLS, NHL and NASL. That’s tough to beat. I have seen people increase strength by up to 200%--myself included. I have seen 50% increases in speed and quickness. I have had athletes drop their 40m dash times by over .10 sec in 8 weeks. I have several current student athletes who can perform multiple lifts with weights way above their body weight. I have an athlete that has broken multiple state and all her school records in track. I have seen significant changes in body composition, lifestyle and nutrition. I have one client who was a heart-transplant patient and I have seen her recover from the trauma of that operation to a point where she is now fitter than the majority of adults her age--early 50’s. I have seen teams come together during workouts and then several months later, come together on the field at a crucial moment in the biggest game of the season or their career and make plays that change the course of the game and the season. At the end of the day, the most powerful results are the ones that come from setting a lofty, ambitious goal and then doing everything you can think of to achieve it. I believe in the power of goal setting and group psychology and it is my goal to help facilitate this at SPA. 4. Roughly how many SPA athletes will you coach this summer? Last summer, we had about 75 athletes in our program, and expect increasing that number this year. We are accepting registrations for our 2013 summer programs right now, and I am hoping to see a major presence from every Spartans athletics team. Getting to build your strength and stamina among your other teammates, as well as see how other sports are training, is a great way to create camaraderie and set everyone up for an amazing season. It has been awesome seeing SPA athletes get into the best shape of their lives and perform to their potential on the field. Even if you are not in a school sport, it is worth it to participate in the program and get the skills to be strong and stay fit.


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