Writing with the L.A. Times––From Jokester to Journalist

Aimee+begins+her+first+day+at+the+LA+Times.

Aimee begins her first day at the LA Times.

Edgar Munoz, Adviser

One windy day, a horse threw Aimée Bonar off its saddle, violently sending her crashing to the ground.

“She flew off the horse pretty hard,” said Poly H.S. Spanish teacher, Lillian Bonar, about her daughter, who was enrolled in ‘Taking the Reins,’ an equestrian program that seeks to empower young girls.

“But she got up and jumped on the horse again. When she starts something, she hardly ever quits, even if it’s hard or challenging. That’s Aimée,” said Lilian Bonar.

It turns out ‘Taking the Reins’ left a lasting impression on Aimée and, as a result, she wrote about it in her application to The Los Angeles Times’ High School Insider Internship program this past summer.

Out of 133 students from across Southern California who applied to the program, eight were selected for the internship and Aimée Bonar was amongst them.

Student applicants usually participate in H.S. Insider, a journalism website with the L.A. Times for student writers. Since Polytechnic H.S. participates in the H.S. Insider program, Bonar was able to volunteer for events like The L. A. Times’ Festival of Books, which helped her stand out and demonstrate her commitment.

What’s more, she became the first Poly High School student to get this chance of a lifetime.

“It changed me as a person because I got to meet really cool people and got to experience things I’ve never experienced before, like being in a professional work environment,” said Bonar.

The program is essentially a 6 week summer job to work in El Segundo for The Los Angeles Times, Monday through Thursday, 8 hours per day. The internship pays money to young writers and media producers as they work with and learn from L.A. Times journalists, beat writers, and editors, like Bill Plashke (sports), Doug Smith (metro), Karen Kaplan (science), Darrel Kunitomi (history), and Kimi Yoshino (senior deputy managing editor).

“She was really quiet, reserved, and focused,” said Molly Heber, H.S. Insider project lead, about Bonar at the start of her internship in June of 2019.

But Heber noticed something else about Bonar: she had the right attitude and work ethic.

“She had an inquiring mind and was the one to ask questions. She was open to giving feedback, taking it, and acting on it––she took this experience and ran with it. She pushed herself,” said Heber.

Bonar talked to strangers on the phone or through email, known to journalists as ‘cold-calling.’

“I was forced to open up more. I had to call people that I didn’t know––to do cold calls all the time––and it helped me become more confident talking to strangers,” she said.

Aside from talking to strangers, Bonar had to modify her writing style, too.

“Well, it definitely made me, as a writer, become more disciplined. How to distance myself from my writing, which is something I’m not really used to. It’s something that I’ve never really done before. And at first, it was hard for me to do that because I believe in putting your voice into your writing. In journalism you don’t really get to do that,” said Bonar.

Molly Heber
SHOWCASE: Aimee, her parents, and her Journalism teacher at the culminating showcase.