Letter From the Editor

Wolfpack Leader Discusses Accomplishments, Future at UC Irvine


Photo Courtesy of Bernie Corpus

Smiling for her senior photos, Ally JohnPress celebrates her final year of high school at the 360 Bridge. This year, JohnPress served as editor-in-chief of the Wolfpack newspaper and worked to become a SNO Distinguished Site, which the staff achieved on Feb. 3. “Honestly, I worked tirelessly to achieve our SNO Distinguished Site award, and I could not have been happier when I got the notification on Twitter saying ‘Congratulations to the CPHS Wolfpack for achieving the SNO Distinguished Site award,’” JohnPress said. “When I knew I was going to be editor-in-chief, this was my absolute number one goal, and it is just so satisfying to be able to say we achieved national recognition. It was difficult and time-consuming work for the staff and I, and I am so proud that we were able to accomplish this.”

Tristan Hernandez, Guest Reporter

Some say she’s got a little bit of an addiction, but she says it’s just love.

She has 114 Jellycats – premium stuffed animals. She’s written over 50 articles and banked hundreds of hours as editor-in-chief. She’s a black belt in Taekwondo and trained in Krav Maga, or self-defense.

At just five feet two inches, senior Ally JohnPress is a girlboss. 

“When I joined the Wolfpack staff my sophomore year after taking journalism, I knew I wanted to hold some sort of leadership position because I really loved writing and editing,” JohnPress said. “Each year on staff, I would always find extra little things to help out with or write just because I enjoyed doing it, so when I found out that I was going to be editor this year, I was ecstatic. It was sad seeing Stef, our editor-in-chief for the past two years, leave, but I knew that I was going to do a great job leading this year’s staff to success, and I did.”

This year, the Wolfpack was named a Student Newspapers Online (SNO) Distinguished Site on Feb. 3 and is ranked No. 14 out of 526 schools in the country.

“Honestly, I worked tirelessly to achieve our SNO Distinguished Site award, and I could not have been happier when I got the notification on Twitter saying ‘Congratulations to the CPHS Wolfpack for achieving the SNO Distinguished Site award,’” JohnPress said. “When I knew I was going to be editor-in-chief, this was my absolute number one goal, and it is just so satisfying to be able to say we achieved national recognition. It was difficult and time-consuming work for the staff and I, and I am so proud that we were able to accomplish this.”

In order to be named a Distinguished Site, schools must earn six badges: Audience Engagement, Multimedia, Story Page Excellence, Continuous Coverage, Site Excellence and Best of SNO. 

“If I have to say one thing about working for these badges, it’s that it took a lot of dedication and planning,” JohnPress said. “We start getting ready at the start of the school year and try to plan out a schedule of which pieces we are going to complete and when, such as when we had to post on social media platforms each day for four consecutive weeks for our Audience Engagement badge. Continuous Coverage also required a lot of teamwork, as we had to cover certain topics in multiple articles, such as basketball, or publish articles within 48 hours of the event occurring, which is what I did.”

Since joining the staff, JohnPress has won four Best of SNO awards for her articles “Script to Stage,” “Never Give Up,” “Fashion Forward” and “Wolves for Wishes.”

“Whenever we brainstorm ideas for our pitch meetings, I always like to look for unusual or interesting stories to write about so that way I can explore the full depth of the story,” JohnPress said. “The first ever Best of SNO award I received was my sophomore year for an article called ‘Script to Stage,’ and all I remember about it was that I spent hours and hours perfecting each transition and making sure my quotes were perfect. When I found out, I could not stop smiling for the rest of the day, and funnily enough, that was when I decided I wanted to be an editor.”

With 12 staff members this year, the Wolfpack published over 190 stories, recorded three podcasts and were awarded seven Best of SNOs. As editor, JohnPress is responsible for organizing the story tracker and posting schedule, editing reporters’ articles, managing the online platform and working on SNO badges. JohnPress also worked with Assistant Editor and senior Ruchi Sankolli to work toward the staff’s goals. 

“Although being the editor does come with a lot of extra work and time commitment, it’s work that I actually want to be doing,” JohnPress said. “I enjoy collaborating with our reporters and helping them out with their articles because I enjoy seeing their improvements. I really like the fact that our newspaper is online because I have so much versatility when it comes to article design as well as website design. This year, for our Site Excellence badge, we had to update our website to the FLEX Pro design, and so I had to change and rearrange around so many widgets to meet the requirements. It took a lot of Youtube tutorials, Help Tickets and emails, but the work paid off.”

Starting her junior year, JohnPress began competing in UIL news writing, headline writing, copy editing and feature writing. This year, she advanced to the regional meet at University of Texas at San Antonio in headlines and news.

“I did a few UIL events my freshmen and sophomore year, but really got into it last year during the pandemic, sort of like a fun little side hobby,” JohnPress said. “I practiced as much as I could last year, but really stepped it up this year and went to our invitational meets and did a lot of practice on my own, too. I was so happy I made it to Regionals, and even though I didn’t advance to State, I was still proud that I won a couple medals along the way. Plus, waking up at 7 a.m. with Tristan to drive on I-35 to some high school with Starbucks and Meghan Trainor on the radio really made the whole experience.” 

JohnPress won multiple Interscholastic League Press Conference (ILPC) awards, including a bronze medal for Feature Writing for her story “Wolves for Wishes” and for her Photo Slideshow of fine arts pictures from the 2021 fall semester. She also earned a silver medal in Sports Feature writing for her article “Never Give up,” which also won an honorable mention for Quill & Scroll National Awards.

“My favorite articles I’ve written this year have definitely been ‘Wolves for Wishes’ and ‘Never Give Up,’ so I’m pretty proud of myself,” JohnPress said. “I’ve won a few awards over the past few years, but it was especially nice this year since it’s my last year on staff. Having these awards announced at banquet and celebrating how far we’ve come as a staff and how far I’ve come as a person was really memorable, and as my official first and last banquet, it was worth it.”

She also won a gold medal in Sports Feature Photo, and the same photo also won a Tops in Texas, meaning it placed first out of the 1A through 6A division. 

“Finding out I won the Tops in Texas award came as a huge shock,” JohnPress said. “The funny thing is, when I first went through my photos from the Georgetown game, I didn’t think twice about the reaction picture and almost didn’t even put it in my ‘Best Of’ folder for the yearbook kids. I think it’s super impressive that I placed first out of all schools in Texas. It also feels good to be recognized for the work I put into being a journalist.” 

Outside of school, JohnPress practices Krav Maga, or self-defense, and has been training for five years at The Mat Martial Arts & Fitness. 

“Toward the end of middle school, I wanted to continue training martial arts but pursue a different branch of it,” JohnPress said. “Also, I knew I was going into high school, and I wanted to be ready for anything. Of course I have learned hundreds of skills and techniques from stand-up to ground defenses, but my biggest takeaways definitely have to be the hard work required to learn these valuable skills and the many friends and mentors I met along the way.” 

She also works as an administrative worker and instructor at The Mat and has been on the team for over a year. She teaches heavy bags and teens classes each week. 

“Working at The Mat has been the most incredible experience,” JohnPress said. “I am so fortunate to be a part of our Mat family as a student and now as an instructor. I work with the most incredible people who have taught me so much about how to be an adult and simply be a good human being. Plus I know how to kick butt. When I started instructing, I think my favorite part was the fact that I got to teach new members everything I had learned when I first started training. It’s also cool to be able to see adults and kids alike grow as students and know that I have helped them on that journey.”

Her training background also consists of Taekwondo, a form of martial arts, and she received her black belt just before the end of elementary school. 

“From before I can even remember, martial arts has always been a part of my life because of my dad,” JohnPress said. “He trains Taekwondo and Tukong and probably some other forms of martial arts, and it’s really impressive. So, I followed in his footsteps and trained for five or six years and then received my black belt. When I was younger, I was fearless, and although I remember being super nervous for my final test, I knew I was going to crush it, and I did. Receiving my blackbelt is definitely one of my accomplishments I am most proud of.” 

In fifth grade, she also competed in the Central Texas Championships, a martial arts tournament in south Austin, and placed second and third in her division.

“When we reached the building where the tournament was being held, I was a nervous wreck,” JohnPress said. “To be fair, I was quite young and the environment was stress-inducing, but I still wanted to perform at my best. Each competition had certain divisions, and each match was one-on-one sparring, which definitely scared me a little. I went through a few rounds before my final match, which was against this kid that my dad described as the ‘Cobra Kai Kid.’ It was terrifying. I went in there with a flurry of punches and kicks and earned second place, only because I kicked him in an ‘off-limits’ area. I was still so happy when I learned I did well, and my family was so proud.”

National English Honor Society (NEHS) was the first honor society that JohnPress joined, and she has been a member for three years. Her junior year she served as secretary, and this year she served as president.

“I think my love for English came from my dedication to reading so much as a kid,” JohnPress said. “I love fiction and realistic fiction because it feels like I get lost in another world. As editor-in-chief this year, I obviously have a passion for writing as well, so I’m just glad I got to lead NEHS. At each meeting, I also continued last year’s president, Kuba Bard’s, tradition of reading poetry. At our final meeting, I read one of my favorite poems, ‘Sick,’ by Shel Silverstein because I thought reading a poem about not wanting to go to school was a good way to close out the year.”

She was also the co-president of the Quill & Scroll Journalism Honor Society with senior Tristan Hernandez for two years. This honor society includes members from newspaper, yearbook and broadcast. 

“When Tristan and I were some of the only students in person for school last year, we thought it would be fun to revive Quill & Scroll,” JohnPress said. “Both of us have worked really hard in newspaper and yearbook and also felt that journalism students deserved recognition for their hard work, so we started organizing meetings over Zoom and planning events for the year after. This year, we got to hold in-person meetings and actually host events for the club, so that was really cool. My favorite service activity we did this year was when we made Valentine’s Day cards for those in hospice care and our teachers, and it was nice being able to make people smile.”

During high school, JohnPress was also a member of Mu Alpha Theta, National Science Honor Society, National Honor Society and Rho Kappa Social Studies Honor Society. 

“Since I was a freshman, I have always wanted to be as part of many clubs as possible so I could involve myself in the community,” JohnPress said. “It might sound a bit nerdy, but I also wanted to further my learning outside of the classroom. Some of my favorite events that I’ve done for these clubs are visiting the LBJ library with Rho Kappa or submitting cool math facts for Mu Alpha Theta. I also liked helping out at the LISD Clothes Closet for NHS.”

During the summer, JohnPress is a camp counselor at Vista Camps in Ingram, Texas. Before becoming a part of the staff, she was a camper for four years.

“I’ve been going to overnight camps since I was twelve, and it was definitely my favorite part about summer,” JohnPress said. “The camp directors weren’t lying when they said the friendships you make at camp are lifelong because I keep in touch with my cabinmates from all across Texas, and I don’t know what I would do without them. I wanted to be a counselor so I could give kids the same positive experience I had at camp.”

JohnPress is graduating in the top two percent of her class and is an AP Scholar with Distinction. Her sophomore year, she won a Howl Award, and this year she received the Leader of the Pack award and the department award in online journalism at the senior awards ceremony.

“To be completely honest, it was so slay hearing my name announced at the ceremony,” JohnPress said. “I was completely shocked, mostly because I didn’t actually know that the Leader of the Park award was a thing. What made it even better was that right after my name was announced, my best friend Tristan was announced, too, so we got to walk up together. It was really sweet.”

In the fall, JohnPress will attend University of California, Irvine to get a Bachelors of Science in psychology. She said she is also interested in studying business. 

“I always knew I wanted to go to school out of state, and California checked all my boxes,” JohnPress said. “When my family and I visited colleges back in February, I just fell in love with Irvine’s campus and what they had to offer. I also think Irvine’s mascot, the anteater, is super cute, so I knew the school would be a perfect fit. As for studying psychology, it has always been my favorite subject to study in school, and I read a lot about it in my free time as well because I find it fascinating.”

Although she said she is not completely sure what she wants to pursue after college, JohnPress is interested in further schooling to obtain her Masters or PhD and possibly continue her family’s business.

“I definitely want to explore my options beyond receiving my bachelor’s, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself right now to decide,” JohnPress said. “I think it would be cool to go into clinical psychology or research, but I also like working with people, which is why I think the family business of leadership and consulting might be a good fit for me. I also like the fact that I would have the freedom to make my own schedule.”

According to JohnPress, her senior year was worth the wait, and she is excited to see what her future holds. 

“High school was a mix of ups and downs, but I’m happy where it ended,” JohnPress said. “I worked really hard to end up where I am today, and even though it might have concluded differently than what 14-year-old me thought, I think that’s completely okay. I am beyond excited to live in California and explore what the future has to offer me.”