Teen press is a small elective, usually with around 10 people or less, which makes everyone become close and friendly. Every day we meet in a classroom at the middle school and talk about upcoming events and interviews with our teachers, John Seigel-Boettner and David Teton-Landis. I joined for the first time last year, in seventh grade. Since then I have had an amazing experience with the teen press, interviewing people such as James Cameron, Ken Burns, Greg Mortenson and more with one of my good friends, Emily.
I was excited to interview James Cameron — the director of The Terminator, Titanic, Avatar and many more films — because he is a very well-known director who was also honored at the 2010 Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival for bringing eco-friendly awareness to multiple communities.
I was also excited to meet and interview Ken Burns, a well-known documentary director, because he started making films when he was 12, and I look up to him for that. Interviewing Greg Mortenson, who is changing the world by building schools for girls in different parts of the planet through his Central Asia Institute, was amazing because of what he is doing for our generation.
There is a long, impressive history of interviews like these in the Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press, almost too many to list.
This is making me think of how this practice will help me later in life, and how grateful I am for that. I’ve become much more outgoing and confident from meeting so many people. The teen press has definitely changed me. Thinking back, I would have never been able to look someone in the eye, shake their hand, and speak loud and clear a year ago.
John and David are always very supportive of everyone in teen press. I remember the day of the Greg Mortenson interview; I was feeling sick because of how nervous I was. John told me I could go home, rest, and come back to school later for it. I am so thankful for that, because I don’t know if I would have made it through the day without such advice.
On May 4, we did the interview with Greg. John SB, Mark (sixth-grade rapper then), Eliana (ninth-grade mentor last year), Emily and I made our way over to the Direct Relief International warehouses in Goleta. We walked into one of the warehouses and set down a blanket on the floor in front of a shipment going to Haiti. We practiced our questions over and over while we were waiting for Greg. Finally the time came, he walked through the doors and my stomach churned. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. The man I had heard and read so much about was right in front of my eyes, shaking my hand. Greg, Emily and I took our shoes off and sat down on the blanket. Emily poured cups of iced tea for each of us, following the theme of his book, Three Cups of Tea. We did the interview with six or seven people watching us, and it went great. I was so relieved.
The next day, Greg called us. He said the interview went so well he wanted to do it again, but this time with his camera crew. We did the same thing on May 7 when he drove back from San Diego just to do a second interview with us. I was so excited! We were set up with the lights, cameras and microphones. It was a little different the second time, but just as amazing!
I will never forget the memories and experience of being part of Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press.
(Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press video)