Hello again, it’s Michele Katsaris back for another summer interning with the Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. The last time that I was on here, I was a freshman in college attending Virginia Commonwealth University. Boy, have things changed in just a year! I am now in the process of transferring to George Mason University (GMU), still majoring in Advertising, but now with a minor in Graphic Design. I am transferring to GMU because I have found a path where I will be able to graduate a year early. In the mean time, I have returned for another summer of working with the Marketing Manager, Jennifer Deuterman, taking courses at Northern Virginia Community College, and working pretty much every day at the indoor pool at the Community Center.
Now did I ever tell you guys how I chose Advertising as my major? Well, it all started my sophomore year of high school. I was in an elective class called Photojournalism. At first, I was super excited because all the class did was work on the yearbook. I mean hey, I was able to put pictures of my friends and myself throughout it, right? WRONG! This class could not have been more chaotic. We had a new teacher, students who did not want to be there, and deadlines to meet. It felt like nothing was ever getting done and that drove me insane. As we learned the tools of how to create a yearbook, I could feel myself starting to take this class more seriously. In which case, only made me more frustrated when my classmates did not. By the end of my sophomore year I was making all the deadlines as well as doing my classmates’ assignments. One day my teacher even said to me, “Why can’t everyone else take this class as seriously as you, Michele?”
When my junior year rolled around, I had jumped right back into the chaos. This time however, I was in it to win it. I had learned that yearbooks could actually win prizes. So, I started to take charge of the class more. My classmates were coming up to me asking me which front cover I approved of and which colors should be in the theme. It felt like I was being ambushed all the time with yearbook questions before class, during class, and after class. “Michele, help me with this.” “Michele, how do you do this?” “Um, Michele was I supposed to delete this? No? Whoops!” This class was starting to feel more like a job than an elective. I didn’t mind though. I mean, after all you only get four high school yearbooks.
In the very beginning of my senior year, a teacher came up to me and said “Congratulations Michele.” I asked them “For what?” and they simply said, “For the yearbook.” What were they talking about? My senior year had just begun; I hadn’t even had Photojournalism class yet. Then it hit me! I sprinted up the stairs to Mr. Smith, the Photojournalism teacher, and asked him if we had placed in the yearbook competition from my junior year. He smiled at me and said, “Well I was going to surprise you, but yes, we won second place.” I could not believe it! I was thrilled and already starting my senior year off on a positive note. I told Mr. Smith that we would beat that and win first place this year. Mr. Smith had come around since his first year teaching the class and had it organized in a brand new way that year. Now, only seniors were in Photojournalism 2, where as Photojournalism 1 class was learning the basics. This class was way smaller and all of my classmates had been there since the beginning. Mr. Smith also decided to have specific jobs for everyone in the classroom. He created the positions of layout editors, copy editors, business managers, senior editors, photographers, photography editors, and Editor In Chief. I knew right away which position I wanted and clearly so did the rest of the class when they nominated me as the Editor In Chief. I got to work right away with designing different themes and layout ideas.
Throughout the entire school year, the first Photojournalism 2 class worked tiredly to make their senior yearbook the best yearbook Manassas Park High School had ever seen. I can’t even begin to explain how many times we would change a spread, copy, or even a picture. When the deadline to submit the last final pages of the yearbook crept up on us, the class pulled together and finished not only the yearbook, but also a Senior Magazine all in the same week. During our celebration party on our last day of class, Lisa, the representative from Reflections who guided us throughout the past three years, came in and was talking to us about how hard we had worked and how she had never seen such a small class pull off what we had in such a short amount of time. She then proceeded to explain how one student, from one school, gets a graduation cord from Reflections because they felt that this one person had truly out-shined throughout all the of the other schools that they produced yearbooks for. She pulled out a rainbow-colored tassel and handed it to me. I was so shocked. I didn’t even know that this award existed, let alone did I ever believe that I would receive it. On top of all the praises and awards I was winning, the biggest influence I had was my teacher Mr. Smith. Like I said, we started this class together. He never gave up on the class or on me. He made me think and look at things differently. He even wrote me an amazing recommendation for college! Neither of us knew what we were doing back in 2008, but by 2011 we had become a team. Mr. Smith if you ever see this, which you will because I will send you the link, I just want to say thanks again for everything! I had grown to love this class, my teacher, and my classmates so much. It was hard to believe that I would have to leave it all behind so soon. This class not only made me fall in love with designing layouts and spreads, but it made me realize what I wanted to do with my future.
My dream one day is to own my own magazine. And no- not a celebrity gossip magazine. A magazine filled with real stories, of real people all around the world. I have had this plan, college then California, since I was sixteen. My friends even joke when they say, “Michele has her entire life planned out,” but it’s true. I cannot see myself doing anything else. That is why interning with Jenn has helped me learn about the business incredibly so. I have had the chance to work on the Mosaic, the social media sites, media plans, and budget spreads. I have learned a great deal from the time that I have spent here.
It doesn’t matter if you are five years old and want to be a ballerina, eighteen and joining the Military, or thirty years old and on your 5th career. You can be whatever you want to be in this world. You just have to go out there and do it. I started “Shaping My Future” in a small classroom in Manassas Park High School, started developing it at the Manassas Park Community Center, and soon enough I will be living my future. Take that first step, because there are endless possibilities to “Shape your Future”. How will you shape yours?
Oh, and for those of you wondering, my senior yearbook did in fact win first place in the yearbook competition.
“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
Michele Katsaris is a Marketing Intern for the Manassas Park Parks and Recreation Department.
Community Matters is a blog created by the City of Manassas Park Department of Parks and Recreation. The blog features program updates, announcements of new services, special event notices, or information of general interest.