Young journalist renders stories for next generation
Last updated 2/22/2023 at 4:18pm | View PDF
TIME for Kids reporter Celsey O'Hare was about to conduct her first big interview, a Q&A by Zoom with Ugandan climate activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa Nakate. The Hinsdale Middle School sixth-grader had permission to interview from school and was ready to go.
As the time approached, she suddenly realized her school computer didn't permit recording.
"I was like, 'What do I do?!' " Celsey recounted.
Smartphone to the rescue.
"I just had to record off of my phone," she said. "I figured it out in time, but that was a little bit stressful."
These anxious moments paled in comparison to the thrill of seeing her article on the back page of the magazine's next issue.
"It was really cool to see," Celsey said.
Always something of a news hound, Celsey had inherited one of her sister's TIME Magazine subscriptions and noticed a invitation for young writers to apply in an issue last spring.
"I thought it would be way out of my reach for a publication so big," said Celsey, who gave it shot anyway.
During a summer break family trip came the notice that she was finalist. Relaxation season was over with new submissions required. Right before the start of school, Celsey got word she'd been chosen.
"It was just super exciting," she said. "I met my mentor, one of the editors at 'TIME for Kids.' She gives me my assignments. If I have any questions - and I have a lot of questions about the assignments - she always answers them."
For her debut byline, Celsey interviewed Joelda Morancy, author of "Aliens: Join the Scientists Searching Space for Extraterrestrial Life" designed to help kids better understand space exploration.
"It was nice to get to talk to her," Celsey said, noting she was provided an advance copy of the book to prepare her questions. "It was really cool to hear about her experience writing that book."
Celsey is among the first group of TIME for Kids reporters writing standalone pieces rather than just receiving a contributor credit as was past practice. And while interviewing comes naturally to the sociable adolescent, she admits abiding by deadlines and word counts has posed more of a challenge.
For this month's issue she interviewed another author for young readers, Adam Rubin, about his latest collection of stories, "Human Kaboom."
Celsey was encouraged when, after telling Rubin that reading books like his was what drew her to reporting, he quipped, "Well Celsey, you give me hope for the future!"
Her teachers ask when her next story is coming out, while her classmates were surprised to discover her sidelight.
"They kind of found out slowly after my first couple of articles came out," she said. "This is a whole side of me that they didn't know."
She relishes exposing her peers to a wider world. And her subjects also seem to appreciate her work, as evidenced when the Ugandan climate activist articulated her motivation.
" 'It's kids like you, because what I'm all about is advocating for the youth,' " she said. "That was an answer I'd not expected."