Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Ryan Allibone
Amie Shields emulates compassion while being one of the very few students committed to publishing her school’s newspaper all while trying to discover her life’s passion.
Shields works as a student journalist at Illini Central High School in Mason City, and she is a part of the small group who is dedicated to continuously producing their paper. This is partially due to the little devotion other students feel towards the paper.
“People end up saying that they’ll write an article about a teacher or school event” says Shields. “But when the deadline comes up they say ‘I had a test’ or ‘I didn’t have time.”
Unlike these students, Shields is always doing her best to write as many stories as she can, even stories that may end up being controversial. Although Shields has written articles that the school board might not agree with, she doesn’t face any backlash for it.
According to Shields, not many people take the paper as serious as they should.
“They take it like the funny pages,” she said.
Despite how others don’t appreciate the paper, Shields remains very committed, even going as far to spend her free time researching a variety of subjects in hopes to find new topics for her articles.
Another way Shields spends her time is really working out what she wants to do for the rest of her life. She loves to try new things, just experimenting with what she likes and dislikes.
While being dedicated to her high school’s publication, Shields also finds room to consider an interest in behavioral analysis with autistic children.
This interest was sparked when she saw the impact that people who work in this field had on her cousin, Tyler, who has autism.
Shields said Tyler started off as someone who was very nonverbal, would never talk nor want to talk. However, after working with a behavioral analyst and an occupational therapist, Tyler’s persona completely flipped.
“Now talks all the time, it’s amazing” Shields says. “You can’t get him to shut up.”
While speaking to Shields’ mother, Angie Haynes, all she had to say was wonderful things about her daughter.
“She’s absolutely perfect. Amie is a sweet, loving and amazing girl,” she said.
Haynes is very proud of her daughter and all the hard work she puts into her school life. “She’s very responsible.”
Even though Haynes has utmost confidence in her daughter she still worries, just like every good mother does and offers Shields some advice.
“Always stay true to yourself, you’re just dandy.”