What the X-Team meant to them
By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 10, 2002
Why should you apply to be on the St. Petersburg Times X-Team?
Let some members of the 2001-2002 team tell you, then apply, using the coupon and instructions below (DON'T MISS THE DEADLINE -- June 10 today's publication date.)
I definitely will be wiping those tears out of my eyes, as X-Team was everything but negative. Without X-Team I wouldn't have met the people I've met, nor felt the joy of seeing my first article in the paper and the rush I get when I see another. Also, on X-Team, I've met many great young writers, who have made it even a better year. I can tell they have the passion for writing, like I do. - Mimi Rich, 11
Being on this year's X-Team has affected me in many positive ways. I've noticed that my writing has improved dramatically, both in the newspaper and in English class. Being on the team has helped me gain a nose for journalism and writing, by meeting deadlines, doing interviews and writing on a wide range of topics.
The X-Team has also changed me, because I used to not care about writing those crucial essays in class, and now I can't wait to tackle another one! - Jerrod Douse, 15
My (first) story was on a group of Muslim kids (after Sept. 11). It changed my view forever. -- Sam French, 10
The X-Team has affected me tremendously, because I have become a better writer overall. I think (having) the different age groups helped, because they had a lot of insight, too. - Tashyra Feazell, 13
Working on the X-Team made me realize that there is more than one way to write, and it helped me with my fiction, but it also made me realize that reporting isn't something that I could ever make a career. So even though it didn't change my life, it helped me to decide what I can make of it when I grow older. - Maddie Hightower, 15
Planning, interviewing and organizational skills and talent are all things a person needs to become an X-Team writer. These things I had to learn to do. . . . It took a lot of work and time, but in the end it was worth it, and one of my best experiences. I got to write about all of my favorite things. . . . My language arts teacher got to read every article I had in the paper. I remember that every time I gave her an article her face would light up with joy. -- Allison Holder, 13
Being a member of the X-Team is the opportunity of a lifetime because it is like an internship, but at a younger age than a person would usually have one. The X-Team experience gave me some more insight into what life would be like if I chose to venture down the career path of journalism. I also enjoyed exchanging ideas and learning about how to write better. -- Mandi-Lou Schantz Feld, 15
Most college freshman have no idea what they are going to study when they begin school and often switch their majors many times. I cannot say what the future will hold, but my experience as an X-Team member definitely has given me some insight. Journalism does not mean the glamorous life of Barbara Walters or the frivolous style of Will Tippin from ABC's Alias. No, it means taking risks -- making some people mad, and making others talk. But it also means gathering the facts, crafting the English language to deliver your story, your gift to the world. Crazy as it seems, that is what I want to do with my life, and serving my term for Xpress has given me the chance to see journalism in its full sense, alive and working. - Autumn Siegel, 13
The X-Team wants you!
Take it from some current members of the X-Team: If you love to write and have a nose for news, being on the X-Team may be just the thing for you!
X-Teams have been writing for Xpress, the St. Petersburg Times' special section aimed at readers ages 9-18, since 1995. Now we begin the search for Team No. 8.
Here are some of the things this year's team has been writing about: how kids at a Muslim school are coping after 9/11; manatees in our own back yard; teenage entrepreneurs; training house rabbits; the Legislature's budget vote that killed antitobacco education funding; a rescue dog at ground zero; the stress of college applications; and teachers' lame essay topics, to name only a few.
But reporting and writing interesting stories is not ALL the X-Team gets to do. Members spend the year learning the art and craft of writing from seasoned Times journalists at monthly writing workshops.
So if you're already stifling the urge to pick up a pen and notebook and go out and interview somebody for a story, apply THIS INSTANT to be considered for the 2002-2003 X-Team. Applicants (that's YOU, not your PARENTS!) must follow all the instructions below or their applications will not be accepted.
Here's the first instruction: Before you start, please read this list of musts to see if you qualify:
- You must have a talent and love for writing.
- You must be full of good story ideas about people, places, things and events (no fiction!) and be comfortable interviewing people for your stories.
- You must be able to meet deadlines without being nagged by your editor.
- You must be comfortable talking with editors, who will need to converse with you regularly by phone and e-mail, as well as in person for editing sessions.
- You must be able to attend X-Team workshops once a month on Thursdays from 5 to 6:30 p.m., usually at the downtown St. Petersburg Times building. Please consider your time obligations with school and extracurricular commitments before applying.
- You must have a parent or guardian willing to drive you to and from X-Team assignments and workshops or, if you are old enough, be able to drive yourself. (Keep in mind, you might have to travel outside your county, so this is very important.)
- You must have access to e-mail. (You don't have to OWN a computer, just be able to use one and check it regularly.) You will be sending your stories to the Times via computer, and we communicate workshop reminders and other important information via e-mail.
- You must be age 9 to 18.
If you aced the above test, we want you to apply! The competition is tough, so we need to know as much about you as possible. Please fill out the attached coupon and include it and a photo of yourself with a letter covering the following points (sorry, we can't return material):
- What being a member of the X-Team would mean to you;
- Why you'd be the best person for the job;
- Plus five absolutely fabulous story ideas, two examples of deadlines you have met and some samples of your writing (nonfiction stories if you have any).
- Please list all the activities you're involved in outside of school hours and how often they meet.
Please use your best handwriting and follow directions. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
Send your application coupon and the above information to:
I DREAM of the X-TEAM
c/o Gretchen Letterman
St. Petersburg Times
P.O. Box 1121
St. Petersburg, FL 33731
APPLICATION MUST BE POSTMARKED BY JUNE 10. The team will be chosen and notified over the summer. Those not selected also will be notified. Please be patient; the selection process takes time!
We look forward to meeting you!
Here's the rest of today's Xpress