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Clarissa explains it all
South Mecklenburg High School senior Clarissa Brooks is the type of student who carries a lot on her plate. She has five advanced placement classes, tutors at school, freelances for a magazine, interns, works a part-time job; she’s an editor on the yearbook committee and an editor of the school’s online newspaper, which she helped to create with her friend, Alton Peques, the editor-in-chief.

In September 2012 when Alton decided he wanted to start an online newspaper, The Sabre Sentinel, Clarissa was the first onboard to assist. South Meck had a print newspaper several years ago, but it phased out. The Sabre Sentinel is the school’s first online newspaper. The weekly news source was created to give students, staff, alumni and the South Charlotte community a place of pride from within the school. When the Sabre Sentinel first began, there were only three students participating including Olivia Jones, World News section editor, Alton and Clarissa. With approximately 10 students on staff this year, the students are able to write more news, arts, features and entertainment stories.

“It makes it hard for the community to support you when you don’t even have a school newspaper. We can’t fit a year’s worth of accomplishments in just the yearbook,” said Clarissa. “For me as a writer, the newspaper gives me more writing experience. The more I write the better writer I become.”

Clarissa’s first story with the Sabre Sentinel was in December 2012. She interviewed two-time Olympic gold medalist and South Meck alumnus Ricky Berens. She said she initially approached the assignment with a nonchalant attitude, but soon found that being a journalist is more than just asking a few questions, it is also about research.

“My friends asked me if I was going to do any research before meeting Ricky and I said, ‘I’m good.’ Then I started to panic when I thought about what questions I wanted to ask. I researched everything including his favorite movie,” said Clarissa. “Those little nuisances help make a celebrity human.”

Clarissa said being a school journalist has made her more confident. When she graduates from high school in the spring, she would like to attend college at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Northwestern University or Howard University. Clarissa wants to pursue a journalism degree with hopes of becoming a fashion editor for Glamour magazine.

“My interest in fashion began through a Belk design your prom dress contest. I realized then I wasn’t a very good artist, but I was good at reading and writing. That’s why I chose to pursue a career as a fashion editor,” Clarissa said. Right now, I have every Seventeen and Glamour magazine since 2006 in my room. It’s important for me to read magazines that not only feature fashion, but combine social issues as well.”

When Clarissa isn’t busy, which she admits is a rare occasion, she enjoys listening to slam poetry, performance poetry usually in a competitive poetry event.

“Listening to slam poetry reminds me that there is something outside of school, outside of South Meck,” said Clarissa. “But what I’m learning is there needs to be balance with everything I do. I’m looking at the amount of time I have to meet deadlines and work to meet that goal.

“I’m finding that communication is the key to everything.”

P.O. Box 30035
Charlotte, NC 28230-0035
Phone: 980-343-3000
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