By Lois Litto
(The Wolverine Scene in the Plain Press, June 2015) On Wednesday May 13th, Mr. Funk shared his guest speaker with Ms. Gale’s and Ms. Fortin’s classes. This was a great collaboration because the guest speaker was The Plain Dealer reporter, Ms. Rachel Dissell. Ms. Dissell’s coverage of the Johanna Orozco case in 2007 has been used to create a play about teen dating violence. She wanted to bring out the topic of teen dating and violence in a straight forward attempt. She used Johanna’s story as a way of showing the seriousness of teen dating and that dating violence does occur, even between two teens. Ms. Dissell wanted to show that teen relationships should be taken as seriously as adult relationships. Most adults feel that teen relationships are more of a first love type of thing; Dissell believes that teens are perfectly capable of feeling things just as well as adults, only with a little less experience.
During her visit, we learned a lot about journalism from our guest speaker. She said that she knew she wanted to become a journalist after her high school English teacher asked her to write a piece for the school newspaper. Ms. Dissell also said that she is basically a shy person, but when she is working, she has to talk to important people like the mayor and she can’t be shy then. As a journalist, she knows you cannot be shy; your job is to ask questions, to dig deep into the story and look at it from every view possible. She also said she has noticed as a journalist that there are not two sides to a story, but about 52. Though this is an estimated number, it shows that there are more than just two perspectives on a story.
When Ms. Dissell interviewed Joanna Orozco, she promised her that they would stop the series in the paper if any of the questions made her uncomfortable. However, Johanna was brave and chose to continue on with the story, saying she wanted the whole truth to be shared. Throughout the story, Johanna had to share things that are very hard to share. She wanted the whole truth put into words for people to read, hear, and see. Throughout this time, Dissell watched Johanna’s progress. She even watched Johanna’s thirteen hour surgery on her jaw and face. Dissell also recalled the event she found most remarkable. As Johanna attended prom, a picture of her ex-boyfriend was shown as part of their senior slide show; she was dancing and saw this. Johanna turned away and continued to dance.
She and Ms. Dissell finished the eight part series. They continue to keep in touch. They will be seeing the play Joanna: Facing Forward together. The biggest lesson we learned from our guest speaker and her topic was that bad things do happen to good people, but it takes a strong-willed and determined person to smile and continue on. Johanna took a stand; she went on and lived her life happily. Bad things do happen to good people, but it takes the good in people to turn around and continue living with intent.