One of David Grant’s high school journalism teachers, Jennifer Delinski, remembers when he worked a football game as the school mascot, just so he could write a first-hand account of what it was like to be the Lake Braddock Bruin.
The first time David Grant’s high school English teacher read his writing, he knew Grant was a natural.
“His writing was mature,” said Bill McCabe, an Advanced Placement English teacher at Lake Braddock Secondary School. “It had a very distinctive voice, which is hard to teach.”
Grant’s writing voice has paid off. The Virginia Press Association’s College Newspaper Contest presented him with a first place award in general news writing. Grant and his colleagues at the Collegiate Times, a student-run newspaper at Virginia Tech, received 25 of the awards on April 7. The VPA presented individual and staff awards to the paper, all of which Grant said he’s excited about.
“I don’t think any section of our paper went without an award,” said Grant. “We were pumped.”
Grant attended West Springfield High School his freshman and sophomore years, before transferring to Lake Braddock in his junior year. He said he attributes a lot of his writing knowledge and experience to teachers and programs at both schools. He remembers specific teachers in the English departments who encouraged him and helped polish his writing.
“You couldn’t ask for a better backing in journalism,” said Grant. “They do a good job of educating you as a writer.”
One teacher whom he recalls learning a wealth of information from was his freshman-year journalism teacher at West Springfield, Jennifer Beach.
“In nine hours of journalism classes at college, I haven’t learned half as much as I did in Ms. Beach’s class,” said Grant.
Jennifer Delinski, Grant’s junior year journalism teacher at Lake Braddock, said she remembers his natural ability to seek and report stories.
“He has this natural curiosity,” said Delinski. “Teaching David was more like sitting down with a peer and talking about writing.”
Delinski and McCabe aren’t surprised at all about their former student’s recognition and success.
“He’s going to be a very successful writer,” said Delinski.
At the age of 19, and just in his freshman year of college, Grant was a campus editor this year and he’s already secured his spot next year as managing editor of the Collegiate Times. During his senior year at Lake Braddock, he was the editor-in-chief of the yearbook, and he also wrote a sports column for Bear Facts, Lake Braddock’s student-run newspaper.
The Collegiate Times, loosely affiliated with the university, is entirely run by the students. The paper’s editorial advisor, Kelly Furnas, said Grant has made a nice addition to the paper’s staff. Since the paper belongs to the students, Furnas serves as a mentor figure, he said. He helps critique and train writers, but he said he never gets involved with what the paper will be printing.
“It’s very much a hands-off attitude I have towards the student media,” said Furnas. “I don’t know what’s in the paper until it runs.”
This is why Furnas said the awards are so valuable. The students are completely responsible for any recognition they receive.
“If they fail, it’s on them; if they succeed, they get all the credit,” said Furnas. “It [VPA recognition] was a great morale boost for our students.”
According to Furnas, Grant is one of those students who doesn’t even need a morale boost. Furnas said he’s already one of the top student writers at the paper, even as a freshman. Grant has jumped right into his position at the paper, and Furnas said he has never backed down.
“He’s one of those students you always hope for,” said Furnas.
Grant has always written. He’s always fed his curiosity by reading newspapers so he can have access to what’s out there.
“Journalism really keeps you involved,” said Grant. “It keeps you plugged into everything.”
Instead of becoming an author, or using his writing to create poetry or works of fiction, Grant has decided to follow an example left by a famous writer.
“You don’t just write a book; you write for a newspaper and write a book on the side,” said Grant. “Ernest Hemingway-style.”