by Lucy Zhang, US East Blogger & Artwork Assistant jaBlog!
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
Earlier this year, I began to participate in a blog program run by college and high school students called The Prospect. The Prospect’s mission for the program was to create opportunities for high schoolers to create their own blogs for their schools with articles not only about school, but also anything else of interest.
Immediately drawn in by the opportunity and the school blog ideas, I contacted The Prospect team. After I was notified about the details of the project, my first task was to put together a school blog team.
Knowing that generating articles to publish close to daily would be a daunting task, I asked six other classmates to join: Matt Gutierrez, Cindy Fan, Angela Wang, Elaine Milan, Kimberly Wang, and Nicole Zhu. Our mission was to write, edit, format, and publish as many articles as we could before launch. On the side, I had to manage social media through a Facebook page and Twitter account @MontySponge. Even before launching our site and making it public to viewers, my team and I were already tasked with posting regularly on social media to generate an audience as well as reach out to local newspapers to gain press coverage.
On the more creative and artsy front, my team and I had to come up with a name for the blog as well as design a logo. I knew I wanted a catchy name, like Rotten Tomatoes or CrunchyRoll. So, when Matt suggested using the word “Sponge” in our name, I was won over quite quickly. Not only does the word feel pleasant on the tongue, it also provides an adequate metaphor for a site that absorbs ideas and is not just limited to school-related content.
The name was then customized to relate the blog to our school, and thus the “Monty Sponge” began. With several artists on the team, we were able to easily brainstorm a rough idea of what the logo should like. Kimberly Wang then realized those ideas on Adobe Illustrator to create the logo we are so fond of today.
We began to write pre-launch articles by late December. As the editor in chief, I learned to become a master of google spreadsheets, learning functions to calculate the number of articles in each section (The Ins and Outs of MHS, Through the Looking Glass, Just Breathe, and The Muse) of the blog. The entire team was peer editing each other’s pieces, which ranged from topics about the school to politics to satire to art. Because of the enormous diversity in all of the articles we were writing, editing each other’s pieces proved to be extremely entertaining.
On February 19th, the Monty Sponge launched. The goal of the Monty Sponge is to shed light on Montgomery happenings as well as other topics such as the arts, current events, and more. Several topics that the blog has covered include the college application process, the hikikomori phenomenon, and satirical signs of prom. We are currently working hard to generate content five days a week. Of course, in addition to the experience of running a blog and getting an opportunity to publish writing, there are perks to being part of the blog.
Through The Prospect, we have the opportunity to participate in a speaker series. On February 8th, we were able to listen to and communicate with Ella Dawson, who does social media for TED talks. In the future, we look forward to listening to other speakers, from journalists to graphic designers. The Monty Sponge has truly been a worthwhile project so far; it has significantly expanded my social network and allowed the team and me to truly experience the virtual journalism world.