Pictured above: Current Editor-in-Chief Ava Dunwoody (center) with next year’s Editor-in-Chief Grace Funk (right) and Managing Editor Grace Wakeling (left)

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I have long believed that there will be certain moments throughout our lives that are designed exclusively to show us the value of this life. Moments so impactful—so extraordinarily significant—that there is simply no other way to live but in compelled response to the influence they have left behind. This journalism program was all of that for me: a place where I found my home, my belonging, and my passion project.

This journalism program was my moment.

It started when I stumbled upon The Cornerstone—what was once the school’s traditional student-run magazine. As a sophomore, I began writing with the staff in a newsroom-style class and truly fell in love with the process of creation. I became a much better writer, fascinated by the idea that what I wrote would be read and had the potential to make a difference. As an Editor my junior year, I proudly worked for everything we, as a staff, stood for: honesty, accuracy, empathy, and passion. It was the first time I was surrounded by a group of my peers who sincerely shared the same aspirations as I did; the community I found in that group of students is something I will never forget. I loved every moment of it.

When I was approached with the news that The Cornerstone would not be continued for my senior year, I was devastated. Not only did I feel like all of my dedication to the program was meaningless, but I also felt the loss of a significant part of my life being taken away from me.

I wasn’t ready to let go, so I didn’t. Instead, I created this. The OLu MUSE. I wanted to continue providing a way for students to pursue their passions in a way that would allow their talents to be recognized, as I believe that is a vital component of growing as an artist or writer. It took me all summer to figure out how to design a website, where to find writers, how to run staff meetings, etc. I had to trust that hard work would get this program where I wanted it to be.

Right before The OLu MUSE launched, I remember being afraid that all of my work would be for nothing—that journalism at OLu would be forgotten. But now that the MUSE has been running successfully for almost a year, I can confidently say that has not been the case. Rather, it is through adversity that this program has transformed into one that is thriving.

I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to serve as Editor-in-Chief for this publication and am proud to have witnessed the growth it has gone through over the past three years. Although it was difficult losing The Cornerstone, the transition to The OLu MUSE has taught me so much about not only my personal strengths, but the power of a community striving towards a common goal. The development process was not an easy one, but getting to see students publish their stories and fall in love with writing—just like I did—makes every bit of the process worth it.

Graduating high school is going to be another big transition in my life. I already know that one of the hardest parts will be leaving behind this program after investing so much of my life to it. But I know that through it, I have left my mark on Orange Lutheran. Through it, I have made my legacy.

So, to the future staff of The OLu MUSE:

Now is the time to start making your legacy. This program was undeniably the greatest experience I had in high school, and only now am I realizing how much of who I am today developed from what I learned here. Invest in the people you meet through this, as they will likely become some of your closest friends and supporters. Write what you are passionate about, because the very essence of this publication is founded upon what inspires you—your muse. Lastly, do not be afraid of change. This is now your publication, and you have the freedom to do with it as you dream. It is time for you to take hold of your passions, pursue them with fervor, and hold on to every second of it.

This is your moment.

With all the love and support,

Ava Dunwoody


Photo Credits: Yumi Shi