Johnson Has The ‘Write’ Stuff


Rowan MacIntyre, Online Editor

Most people don’t take the time to find a use for an old, boarded-up mailbox. But when Emma Johnson was young, she found the perfect use: a delivery spot for letters to fairies.

Johnson used to leave letters to the fairies that visited the mailbox, who would, in turn, leave her books. And when a fairy leaves you a book, you have to read it. Along with her mom, that is exactly what Johnson did.

This, along with growing up in a family of avid readers and writers, led Johnson to develop a passion for English. This passion is not only why Johnson boasts an extensive list of books read, but became a great journalist.

“When I joined the Rambler and started doing journalism, that was when I realized that writing could be more exciting for me,” Johnson said.

As someone who had always liked doing essays throughout elementary and middle school, having a new outlet for writing opened opportunities for Johnson to share her work and explore new topics.

“Being able to create content that other people could read and getting it out more into the world was really exciting,” Johnson said. “I guess that sort of reignited my love of English.”

Johnson’s mom, Sue Johnson, says that her daughter has always been vocal.
“It’s wonderful to have someone verbal,” Sue said. “She’s very good at expressing herself.”

Being able to produce content meant for a larger audience has also helped Johnson to find her voice when speaking to a larger group of people. The pace of writing, editing, and publishing was perfect for her to get her thoughts organized.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to talk to a bunch of people and explain your thoughts that way, and be able to share information,” Johnson said. “Writing, specifically journalism, has provided a really cool way to show the world what you’re thinking and what you’ve been working on and everything, and get it out in a format that’s accessible to a lot of people.”

By making her work accessible, Johnson has been able to have her voice travel far and create opportunities. In 2021, Johnson was selected to be one of the 50 students chosen to attend the Al Neuharth Freedom Forum journalism conference. Traditionally, one student from each state is chosen to represent their state at the conference, which aims to encourage students to pursue a career in journalism.

“That was a really cool experience to meet high school journalists from around the country, and just see what it’s like for all of them and hear about their experiences with their high school publications and also learn about the future of journalism,” Johnson said.

In addition to receiving recognition from organizations like the Freedom Forum, Johnson has had her work published through independent publishing organizations. An opinion piece by Johnson on transportation in Little Cottonwood Canyon was published by the Torrey House Press, a nonprofit environmental publisher based in the Intermountain West.

Through writing, Johnson has been able to use her skill and passion for writing to talk about issues that matter to her. She has been able to use publishing platforms such as the Rambler and Torrey House to discuss a variety of environmental issues, pertinent to both Highland and the Salt Lake area in general.

With environmentalism as another important subject for Johnson, she hopes to be able to incorporate writing into a career in environmental science and sustainability.

Johnson’s interest in English as a subject extends beyond just writing too. Her love for literature has led to a growing list of books she’s read. Some of her favorite classics include A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Roughing It by Mark Twain, and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

Johnson says that her love for reading was inspired by her mom. For her, reading was a way to connect with her family. By reading what the fairies delivered and discovering other various stories, Sue Johnson inspired a love of literature in her daughter.

“She used to read books to me and my siblings, throughout the day and at bed. That exposed me to a lot of new books and taught me how important the world of literature is, and how fun that can be, getting involved in a book.” Johnson said.

While her mom nurtured her love of literature, Johnson says that language arts teacher and journalism advisor Brandon Winn was the one to help advance her writing and adapt it to a journalistic style.

“Coach Winn has been so supportive in my journalism career and developing my writing a lot. It’s been really great to have a teacher that you can have a lot of one-on-one work with,” Johnson said.  “Just knowing me personally, to be able to help advise me like that, in a very personable way, that’s been really great, and it’s been really great to have him as a teacher.”

Sue Johnson says that she is incredibly grateful to all of the amazing teachers that Emma has been able to have, especially Winn.

Johnson hopes to be able to keep up with journalism in college by writing for her school’s newspaper. She will most likely be attending a smaller school in the Pacific Northwest, which will provide the opportunity to continue writing in a journalistic setting.

“[Journalism] has been so constructive and a great thing in high school. I’m excited to be a part of that community in college,” Johnson said. “It just feels really meaningful to me to be able to leave something out in the world that anybody can click on if they want to and [be able to] see what I think and I’m saying.”

Sue is looking forward to seeing what her daughter will accomplish.

“Wherever she goes, she’s going to do great things,” Sue said.