The year is 2008. Katy and Mary Granath and Stephanie Cochrane were approached by a 38-year-old Ron Espinola, who may or may not have had a full head of hair. ‘Let’s start a school newspaper,’ he said. ‘It would be fun!’ he said. Ten long years later, Mr. Espinola no longer has a full head of hair. Probably from all of the stress of The Brand students. We can assume that Mr. Espy had no idea what he was getting into when he asked these three girls to create a legacy at Lowry. Since the Bullsheet, the former school newspaper, died out, perhaps he assumed it wouldn’t work out, or that people wouldn't want to read it; but we can also say that for once in his life, he was wrong.
Katy Granath, although only in The Brand for one year, was heavily influenced by her experience. The three girls had to start a newspaper completely from scratch, which isn’t that easy to do.
“There was a lot to learn, and it wasn't just about writing. We had to learn about distribution, proofing, design, and layout, collaboration, interviewing skills, transcription, editing, delegating team management, and scheduling,” said Katy.
The students involved that the first year had a lot of responsibilities. They were introduced into an entirely new type of writing style and learned a lot about the activities around the school; which is still similar to today’s Brand students.
“Some of us had to learn about new topics in order to cover them; learning to speak the language of sports writing, for instance, is a whole specialty. There's knowing the vocabulary, knowing the game mechanics, even knowing what questions to ask coaches and players later.
There are a lot of skills related to journalism, especially running a school paper, where the staff is very small, and a tiny group of people is cross-trained to do everything,” said Katy.
Stephanie graduated in 2009 along with Katy and remembers being proud to be a part of the new recreation of the high school newspaper.
“Growing up I loved writing and felt like the younger demographic in Winnemucca deserved to have its own voice. I had Web Design classes and homeroom with Mr. Espinola. He knew how to help us create the formatting and online archiving we would need to bring the paper to publish,” said Cochrane. “I remember having a lot of fun piecing together the sections and deciding which columns went where and how much content we would need for each article. We focused primarily on sports coverage and current events. I had an opinion column called ‘Open Your Eyes’ that I really enjoyed.”
Cochrane went off to study dentistry but knew that she wanted to experience more than a nine-to-five job.
“Starting college, I questioned my abilities as a small town writer, and decided to follow the recommendations from the adults around me to get a career/degree that is easy to attain, makes good money and is recession-proof,” said Cochrane. “So I went to dental hygiene school and began practicing. Immediately after I started working, it didn’t feel fulfilling enough so I began working part-time as a hygienist for the financial stability and using the rest of my time to travel, write, and now am in the process of building an online business.”
Joyln Garcia switched into The Brand a few weeks into her sophomore year and kept with it through her remaining years in high school. She switched in because she waived her P.E. class due to sports and needed an elective to fill the spot (a common trend).
“Espy was supposed to approve students to join, but I was able to just get in without his permission. He was flustered at first, but I know he is super glad I joined,” said Garcia.
Jolyn was not particularly interested in writing for the newspaper when she joined, but it became something very important to her.
“I stayed with The Brand because I fell in love with it. I loved being assigned different topics to write about and how we were also given the freedom to write about whatever we wanted. Writing for The Brand gave me a constructive and creative outlet, a way to express my thoughts and reach an audience,” said Garcia.
Jolyn Garcia graduated in 2014 and continued her education at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is now majoring in Community Health Sciences with an emphasis in Kinesiology and a minor in Nutrition. She plans on becoming an Athletic Trainer. Mr. Espy had a hunch all along that Garcia would change her mind on her career choice.
“To be honest, Espy knew that I would change my mind on a career choice. He called me out on it and told me that I would change my mind; it made me so mad. But he was right. You should print that, I bet Espy would get a real kick out of it,” said Garcia.
Jessie Schirrick graduated in 2015 and was in The Brand for all four years of her high school career. Schirrick had always liked writing and thought this class would allow her to explore her capabilities.
“I always loved to write, ever since I was little. My computer literacy teacher in eighth grade, Mr. Scott, mentioned The Brand once and I let him know that I was interested in joining and he helped me become a part of it. I thought it would be a great writing opportunity and a great opportunity to get involved at school,” said Schirrick.
During her time in The Brand, Schirrick was writing an article specifically for her called Jessie’s Journal.
“That was pretty much me babbling nonsense,” said Schirrick.
Schirrick stuck with this class because she believed that it would not only help her improve her writing skills but teach her how to improve her communication skills; which is a valuable thing in life.
“I stuck with it because I thought Mr. Espinola was pretty funny and a good teacher and I really liked everyone I got to work with on staff. I also began learning a lot of valuable reporting skills that have helped me as I’ve studied journalism in college,” said Schirrick.
Schirrick was so inspired by The Brand to pursue her dream of becoming a writer but had some self-esteem repercussions. Mr. Espy helped her in the long run.
“During my senior year of high school, I was a little discouraged because it felt like people kept telling me that journalism was a dying industry and a poor career choice but Mr. Espinola told me that journalism wasn’t dying, it was just moving to a new medium, which is the internet. So, there were actually a lot of different opportunities opening up, and when I got to college I learned that he was right,” said Schirrick. “I currently manage the social media for The Nevada Sagebrush (UNR’s school newspaper) and I’ve held several journalism positions that are outside of news reporting and more related to social media marketing.”
After graduating from journalism school, she plans on obtaining a Master’s degree in Social Justice and Human Rights at Arizona State. Schirrick also wants to become more involved in activism.
Weston Irons was a graduate of 2016 and was enrolled in The Brand all four years. Weston read The Brand in his junior high years, which is initially what interested him in becoming a reporter.
“I remember getting them in The Humboldt Sun every couple of months. I thought it was pretty dope and I liked to write so I enrolled in the class. I had a couple buddies going into the class too,” said Irons.
Irons almost gave up writing after his freshman year but is thankful that he decided to stick with it.
“It gave me a creative outlet to say whatever dumb thought popped into my head so that was cool. I met a bunch of great people in that class and made a ton of friendships. It also gave me a set of life skills that I can’t really say I got from my other classes,” said Irons.
When Irons was a junior, the ‘Fake News’ section was started. ‘Who Knows You’ was also created during Weston’s time.
Irons is currently double majoring in Journalism and French. When not at school, he works at P. F. Chang’s as a cook. Irons is still unsure of his plans after college.
“After school, I’m not too sure what I really want to do with my degrees. I want to do something memorable though,” said Irons.
Many of The Brand kids, including current ones, have looked up to Mr. Espy. Not only is he funny, but he instills a good foundation of journalistic writing into young brains.
Weston Irons mentions that Espy is a good teacher and “a good dude too, but a better mentor. He has valuable things to say, so make sure that you all listen well. That’s why I stuck around.”
Jessie Schirrick stated she didn’t think of Espy as a role model, but “more of a supportive uncle. I think his teaching gave me a good foundation of journalistic writing but I think he gave me just enough freedom to express myself and have fun. He is a good teacher, and I think he is more honest than most high school teachers, which is really important; and the main reason that he stands out to me when I look back on my high school experience.”
Joyln Garcia said that Espy motivated her to not only put more effort into her school work but in every aspect of her life.
“I loved that class. I loved being able to make something that we could share with the community, something that really impressed people,” said Garcia. “He took a lot of pride in what we would print. He inspired me to care so much because he cared so much. Espy is what set that class apart and he made my high school experience rich. He was my mentor without even realizing it.”
Stephanie Cochrane knows that students should follow their heart in whatever they choose to do and never settle for less.
“It’s important for students to know that you are just as able to succeed as individuals brought up with the opportunities given in large cities and you HAVE to follow your dreams and stick with your passions because no one else will for you,” said Cochrane. “Your parents likely want you to get a safe job so they don’t have to worry, but if you take that route you’re cheating yourself out of your own fulfillment, so when you do find what you love or have a crazy dream, chase it and don’t look back.”