By Claire Goldsmith
The adviser of the award-winning Palo Alto High School Campanile observed the Communications Department’s upper school classes April 30 as part of the Renew and Review initiative and will be at the Middle School May 1.
Esther Wojcicki created Paly’s Media Arts Center, which has over 570 students enrolled in journalism programs including the newspaper, a sports magazine, a general interest magazine, a broadcast journalism program, a yearbook, a website and a video arts program. The school’s publications won a record four Gold Crowns in March from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.
Wojcicki began her career in reporting at 14 as a “kind of a girl Friday” in an all-male newsroom at the Sunland-Tujunga Record Ledger, covering anything the older reporters didn’t want to write about.
“They taught me the importance of being concise and getting the most important information first,” Wojcicki told a sixth period Intermediate Journalism class.
At the University of California, Berkeley, Wojcicki worked on the Berkeley Daily Gazette and later was a reporter for the Glendale News Press and a part-time columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
“I seemed to have a knack for it, so it worked out for me,” she said.
Wojcicki and her husband, Stanley Wojcicki, a professor of physics at Stanford University, moved to Palo Alto, where, according to her account, nothing ever happened, so she began teaching, first at Pacific High School, later San Carlos High School and moved to Paly in 1984.
In addition to teaching, Wojcicki advocates for journalism education as a member of the California Governor’s Task Force for Technology in Education, and says she is on a “mission” to have journalism taught at the ninth grade level nationwide.