Currently sitting at my computer in the Echo newsroom, drinking my oat milk latte from Starbucks, next to my partner in crime (Jackson Parks, if you couldn’t guess) trying to figure out how to word this. I stumbled upon the Echo by accident, or one could say fate, when my sophomore year schedule had an open slot to fill.
I started out as a quiet pupil of Donald Johnson, learning everything from ethics to how to write a sports story (lord knows that was hard to teach the theater kid), and somehow I am now sitting here as print editor of an award-winning newspaper.
Sixteen-year-old Ava fell in love with the drama and high stakes of journalism (definitely got her fill of that this year).
Working on the Echo has taught me lessons I will take with me forever as it fulfilled my true passion—storytelling. The Echo gave a younger Ava a place to be creative out of the spotlight, where I could tell stories through my voice and not a character I was playing.
I would not be where I am today, in a place where I can say I have accomplished my longtime goal of pursuing a BM in Musical Theater at my dream school (sorry to my teachers for missing so much class for college auditions—it was worth it) without the lessons I have learned as a leader and the perspective I have gained from being on the sidelines behind a camera or computer screen, reporting on the action instead of being in it.
This is already getting super cheesy and sentimental, but I am going to thank some people (just to practice my speech for when I win my Tony for best actress, duh).
To my Echo staff- I am sorry for yelling at you constantly to get your layout and graphics in; you know it’s out of love.
To my camera man and favorite “freshman,” Calum Shank, thank you for always being there to rant and talk. I hope I could instill some wisdom on you. I am sorry the newscast took so many takes sometimes (my lisp from kindergarten likes to come back randomly when I’m stressed, you know this).
To Donald Johnson, thank you for always coming with knowledge about some musical or play to talk about even if we are the only ones that get it. Thank you for helping me finally understand InDesign and still patiently help me with the same three questions about Text Wrap every month. You have taught me so much. Not just about journalism, but about responsibility and how to be a successful leader, and obscure Shakespeare references.
To Jackson… keep being a flop! Jk love you. Many more snap selfies to come. Hopefully, college will be the death of our “flop era.”
To Lexi Sylvan, thank you for being my biggest cheerleader. Kill it at Truman girl.
To Bella Ferrell, thank you for always being front row at my shows even if we were fighting over who got to sing “Think of Me” on Music Friday.
To Lily Musgraves, thank you for being the best little sister possible I wouldn’t be sane sometimes without you. And my Instagram pictures would be not nearly as good. I will be Facetiming you constantly next year.
To Hannah Heinmann, thank you for being my rock this year, senior year lowkey sucked, but you made it suck way, way, WAY less.
To my friends and family who have stuck by my side throughout my unusual high school career filled with rehearsals and auditions, putting up with my big dreams and high standards for myself– thank you. I love you.
Senior year was definitely not like “High School Musical 3.” Like at all, but they also didn’t go through a pandemic in the “HSM” universe. Like come on, Gabriella ended up with the star basketball player AND the lead in the school musical. I remember seven-ish-year-old me so excited for high school after watching the dance-along version almost every day after school. Looking back it’s just unrealistic. You’re gonna mess up. Eighteen-year-old me totally does not see Sharpay as the villain anymore; she just didn’t have a perfect storyline. I didn’t either.
I am unbelievably excited to begin the next chapter of my life. This sadly means stepping down from the Echo and retiring my press badge. It means saying goodbye to the small town of Webster Groves to take on what those who know me always said I would do: pursue my musical theatre career starting in OKC, OK at Oklahoma City University (Kristen Chenoweth’s alma mater might I add..) and then to wherever the wind takes me next. Hopefully following in Kristen’s footsteps.
This will be Ava Musgraves’ second year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.