An Ode to The Uproar

A tribute to the place I call home

The+Uproar+was+my+home%2C+the+NATV+studio+my+playground.+It%E2%80%99s+where+I+planted+my+roots+and+began+to+grow+as+a+journalist.

photo by Kat Klinefelter

“The Uproar was my home, the NATV studio my playground. It’s where I planted my roots and began to grow as a journalist.”

Jess Daninhirsch, Photography Editor

It seems like just yesterday that I was a wee freshman taking photos of people in the hallways at NAI to be posted on The NAEye. Suddenly–seemingly out of nowhere–I am a senior writing my last piece for The Uproar, and I’m left to wonder how it all went by so fast. What a journey it has been. Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?

When I entered high school, I was already interested in photography, and Mr. Hull, an English and journalism teacher at NAI, knew me already because he taught my older sister. He occasionally asked me to take photos of events happening around school to be posted on NAI’s online newspaper, The NAEye. I also had a knack for writing, for my mom is a writer and passed on her love of words to my sister and me.

In October of 2018, after the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, I felt something tugging at me, telling me to write. So I wrote down everything I was feeling and with the help of Mr. Hull, I published it on The NAEye a few days later. That piece of writing, my first publication in the newspaper, took me a lot of places as it gained traction. It was also published in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle and jGirls Magazine.

It’s strange that a tragedy such as this led me to fall in love with journalism, but that ability to speak my truth and give people a voice created a butterfly effect that is still rippling to this day. In sophomore year, I took the journalism class and joined the NAEye staff as the coeditor in chief. I continued to speak my mind, though not without backlash. I often found that any time I published something about Judaism, politics, or civil rights issues, I received negative comments. At first it hurt, but I learned to let things roll off my back–a crucial skill for any journalist.

In November of sophomore year, the NAI and NASH journalism classes took a trip to Washington, DC for a student journalism convention hosted by the Journalism Education Association. This trip changed my entire life. I met countless professional journalists, photographers, cartoonists, reporters, and storytellers (some of whom I am still in contact with today!). I discovered the world of journalism beyond the school newspaper, and I immediately realized the importance of using my voice for change. From those few days in DC on, I knew I wanted to do this for a living one day.

To the underclassmen: take advantage of the time you have at North Allegheny. You have countless resources at your fingertips. Find something you’re interested in and take as many classes in regards to that interest as you can.”

As I moved up to NASH, I took Honors Journalism and Mr. Morris, the NASH journalism and broadcasting teacher, swiftly appointed me to the position of Junior Photography Editor for The Uproar. Because we were still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, junior year was tough and draining for me, as it was for millions of students across the world. But occasionally that exhaustion ironically gave me fuel to write for The Uproar. Some of my best work came out of junior year.

And we’ve arrived at senior year. I am now the Photography Editor and a senior staff writer as well as a regular anchor and producer of the NATV morning announcements. I get to spend an hour and a half in my favorite area of the school every morning (which truly makes up for the ungodly hour at which I have to wake up to arrive at school). After a long year of stress over college, difficult classes, and extracurriculars, the dust has finally settled. The end is in sight, and now I have mixed feelings about it all. I want to go off to college, but I don’t want to say goodbye, especially to the place where I found my passion.

In the fall, I will be attending the University of Maryland at one of the best journalism programs in the world, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism. I owe my success and skillset to Mr. Hull, NAI’s journalism teacher, and Mr. Morris, NASH’s honors journalism and broadcasting teacher.

That’s the great thing about North Allegheny. We have staff members like Mr. Hull and Mr. Morris who provide such an incredible education and foundation for students to find their passions. To the underclassmen: take advantage of the time you have at North Allegheny. You have countless resources at your fingertips. Find something you’re interested in and take as many classes in regards to that interest as you can. And that applies to after high school, too! Take advantage of opportunities wherever you go in the future. 

I’m on to bigger things, but I’ll never forget where I started. The Uproar was my home, the NATV studio my playground. It’s where I planted my roots and began to grow as a journalist. So this is my thank you to The Uproar. To The NAEye, to NATV, to Mr. Hull, Mr. Morris, the NA journalism and broadcasting department. Thank you for teaching me the foundation of skills that I will continue to use for the rest of my life. Thank you for putting me on this path and shaping me into the person I am today.