The Derrick Meets Shadow Day

Student contributor

Shadow Day, an annual event held by Cranberry Junior Senior High School, invites people from the school board and other prevalent individuals to witness the daily activities of students. However, there is more to this than meets the eye. Judith Etzel and Rich Sayer, from The Derrick, both took it upon themselves Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, to shadow students to learn more about the atmosphere and interactions at the school, but while they’re at work, so are the journalists of Cranberry Chronicles.

Judith Etzel is interviewed by Cranberry High School journalist Hannah Niederriter. (By Sara Uddin/Student Contributor)

With forty-eight years of experience behind her, Judith is definitely blunt and to the point. By observing her inquiries, it was clear to see how enthusiastic and curious she was. It seemed as though she was naturally drawn to people with a passion, and if someone was holding back, she was the person to push for a better story. It’s crucial for Judith to figure out the relevance of the article while jointly putting people at ease.

Judith expressed that “every single person has a story.”

Judith Etzel, reporter at The Derrick, interviews Libby Daugherty, vice principal, and Ritt Smith, principal at Cranberry High School. (By Sara Uddin/Student Contributor)

When asked for advice, Judith made a strong point to value the comfort of the interviewee. Researching in advance, in addition to knowing basic background information, is also a must. Journalists must be patient and prepared for any situation, and they have to have an idea on where the article is going.

Rich was the personification of patience while waiting silently for the perfect picture. He aims to capture the rawness of people’s reactions and interactions. In order to do that, however, it’s just a game of time. He made sure to express the importance of positioning himself until the ideal moment came along.

“I like to get pictures that make it seem like the camera isn’t there. I want life to just continue happening,” Rich elaborated.

Rich Sayer demonstrating that photographers must find creative ways and positioning to take just the right shot. (By Sara Uddin/Student Contributor)

He finds that being familiar with the camera settings is essential for getting the best shots. Certain circumstances, such as darker lighting, can present challenges that the camera cannot overcome without assistance. By knowing how to operate the device manually, he revealed that it’s possible to achieve the result you want.

Rich Sayer, photographer at The Derrick, enjoys capturing moments in the classroom. (By Sara Uddin/Student Contributor)

Both of these talented people had similar backgrounds when it came to why they entered the journalism field. By shadowing students and witnessing past courses, they recalled that some of the most important classes are the ones you don’t like because they help you understand your strengths and weaknesses, your passions and dislikes. They admitted to feeling as though they were working for us thanks to this memorable event. Coming here today allowed them to revisit their past, and us journalists had an obligation to jot down their experience.

Judith and Rich were both able to connect and relate to the field they’re currently in, and that’s truly an inspiration for people at CHS who are growing closer to a further education and career. From them, we learned that if we do something we’re passionate about, we can help influence future generations for the better.

For a story and photos on Shadow Day by Judith Etzel and Rich Sayer, read “Reversing roles” at


Hannah Niederriter and Sara Uddin are students at Cranberry High School and members of Cranberry Chronicles, the school’s journalism/publications group.