A Year to Remember

By Carlton Koonce
Teen Mentoring Coordinator
the Durham VOICE


Well, it’s that time of year again.

The time for festivals, feasts, decorations and reflections.

It’s a time to pause and think about self, family and community.

This fall, the VOICE has been blessed with student interns from YO:Durham, left to right, Michaela Brooks, Shalayah McMillan, Sharif Ruebin and Roneisha Jackson look over the year’s first VOICE print edition. (Staff photo by Carlton Koonce)

It’s been a while coming, but I feel this year established the VOICE as a community institution – much like our universities and our farmers’ markets.

The community has graciously allowed us into churches, stores, offices, schools and homes — and for us back in our various production rooms at NCCU, UNC and the Golden Belt, now is a good time for us to ponder on the events of this past year.

We’ve passed the keys of stewardship from one teen editor, Zenzele Barnes (now a freshie at Queens College in Charlotte), to another fine leader, Praycious Wilson-Gay. And we’ve said goodbye to our third initial teen editor Rosalie Priess (studying hard at the N.C. School of Science and Math). But now filling the shoes of those who left, we have interns and several more teen community journalists to perform the jobs they did — and with just as much honor.

This year has seen the VOICE reach further into high school journalism classes (Southern, Northern and Hillside), discovering promising talent for the future while promoting reading, writing, photography, computer skills and professional behavior in informational sessions and simple Q&A.

We’ve had the opportunity to share the VOICE concept, growth and development with journalists from all over the world — from our friend Professor Kai Chen from the Communication University of China in Beijing to recent visiting journalists from Europe. This year has brought hopes that just perhaps the VOICE may be a model for communities around the country and the globe.

We’ve had to bid “hasta luego” to our friend in the city’s department of Neighborhood Improvement Services, Earl Phillips, but still enjoy our tight bond with Melva Henry and Constance Stancil.

As always we are so grateful for the folks at Scientific Properties and all they do for us. Without our newsroom in the Golden Belt, we could not be nearly as effective in the community.

And while it is the season of reflections, it’s also the season for giving thanks.

So we’re also thankful to our friends and patrons at Capitol Broadcasting Co., N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Co. and Time Warner Cable for their assistance and their belief in our mission and cause.

Thanks also to the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation for their seminal grants —  and to our high school journalism teachers for their continued energy and support: William Schrader at Northern, Heather Lemke at Southern and Elizabeth DeOrnellas at Hillside.

We also reflect on our friends throughout the community who are with us year in and year out: YO:Durham,  SeeSaw Studio, SEEDS, The Daily Tar Heel, the Campus Echo and Triangle Web Printing.

Thanks for forging bonds with us and understanding our quest. This year couldn’t have been as successful without you all.

It’s also time to say “so long” to this fall semester’s team of dedicated college journalists and mentors from Central and Carolina — our FIFTH since the VOICE’s creation. As our bridge between the community’s generations, they work hard to keep us linked through good times and more challenging times.

We thank them for their dedication in this service to the community and wish them good luck as they head off into the world.

Finally, we reflect on community – and the people who make it.

Thank you for trusting us and pitching story ideas that matter to you. Thank you for respecting our young journalists as they move about town in their goal of giving this community a VOICE.

Thank you for caring.

See you next year.