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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

Youth Spotlight: Teens Start News Journal

Amber Victoria Tunnel, Editor-in-Chief of <em>The Valerian</em>
Amber Victoria Tunnel, Editor-in-Chief of The Valerian
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The Valerian

By Amber Victoria Tunnel, Editor-in-Chief | February 25, 2007

Change. A simple word with a massive concept. Have you ever felt helpless with life, that everything was just...wrong? Have you ever been so frustrated at the status quo, but never really knew how to fix it? That was me about 11 months ago. So you know what I decided to do about it? Change it.

Over the summer a group of teenagers, eight others and myself, joined together to try to bring about change through our First Amendment rights: freedom of press. Many people never realize the power, the versatility of words on the human mind. We thought that one of the best ways to help bring about change was to educate the public through words. We wanted people, especially students, to enjoy learning again; to read true and honest material and come away a better person from having read it. You ask: What could we possibly do to accomplish this goal? We started a news journal.

We had no clue what kind of endeavor we were so thoughtlessly undertaking at the time. We were in for a ride. Believe it or not, those first few months of planning were actually harder than publishing the newspaper. None of us had any idea where to start or who to talk to — we were only 16 and 17 years old!

So, we started by simply doing...everything. We set up meetings with lawyers that we knew, we talked to a person on the Bristol Herald Courier, we held a yard sale to raise funds, and we researched... a lot. In these months, we learned more about publishing a newspaper than we ever imagined we would. Unfortunately, smooth sailing did not last throughout the whole endeavor. One of the first obstacles that we faced was what to call this creation. Easy, huh? I think not. For the first few months, it seems that we could never pass over this barrier. As each aspect of the newspaper was gradually developing, we still could never achieve one of the most significant parts. Finally, one of our staff members said, "What about 'The Valerian'?" We instantly fell in love.

We learned that "valerian" is mainly derived from the Latin word "valere," which means to be strong. It is also from the ancient Roman author Valerius Maximus, who became famous for his writings on honesty and truth. Luckily, both of these descriptions supplemented the idea we were trying to portray with this publication wonderfully.

After this dilemma, we faced countless others, like printing and advertising details, but together we managed to tackle each one with ease. Then came the big day: the publishing of our inaugural issue in August 2006. Now, a few issues later, "The Valerian" seems like a job that requires constant attention. Selling ads and writing articles are ever-present responsibilities for us.

With each article I write, I feel that I have gained new knowledge and am thrilled to be able to share that knowledge with at least a small part of the world. Selling ads has also shown to be more character building than I ever could have imagined. Being able to accept rejection gracefully and convincing people of our publication's worth has proven to be an experience in and of itself.

Creating "The Valerian" is easily the star of my high school years. The knowledge I have already gained from it has truly inspired me into knowing that anything is possible. Now I realize that, with selling things to the public, rejection is normal and optimism can be a saving grace. Writing for others, being able to share knowledge with them, has also proved to be more self-fulfilling than I ever could have imagined.

In the end, I don't know if we have achieved our goals of helping instigate change or bettering the community. I don't know how long our publication will last or what the future will bring. However, I do know that so far "The Valerian" has touched my heart and taught me more about responsibility than I ever could have dreamed. I also know that if we have brightened at least one person's day by publishing "The Valerian," it has all been worthwhile.

Editor's Note: "The Valerian" staff writes about diverse subjects ranging from literature, the arts and our Celtic heritage to recycling and medical issues.

"The Valerian" is a free news journal distributed at bookstores, restaurants, and many other places throughout the area. Staff members include students from three high schools in the Tri-Cities. Feel free to contact "The Valerian" with comments, questions, or suggestions: email or write The Valerian, P.O. Box 1405, Bristol, TN 37621.

The staff of The Valerian includes, from left, Mary Beth Royster, Amber Victoria Tunnel, Yi-chin Sun, and Wei-yang Sun.

The Valarian's founders: Left to Right, Front Row — Lasca Gaskins, Amber Tunnell, Yi-chin Sun, Jordyn Emmert. Back Row- Mary Beth Royster, Wei-Yang Sun, Ben Tolliver, Micah Salyer

Publication of the first issue in September 2006 was celebrated with a cake that mirrored the front page.