Meet Vista’s Director of Communications–Junior Reed Waxham


Jamie Jordan

Seen here in his office, Reed Waxham works on PTSA Thursday Update. While his position as director of communications is unpaid, Waxham has a designated block for which he earns a grade.

People may or may not find it surprising that, in the era of budget cuts, Vista recently added a position for Director of Communications. However, this person, Reed Waxham, is most often met with a different kind of skepticism, based on the fact that he is actually a high school junior attending the school.

“… [I] see people jump back a little bit,” Waxham said. “But I think more than anything people are not surprised in a bad way, but surprised in a good way.”

Surprised, perhaps, at the depth of his responsibilities. For example, on a daily basis, Waxham says that he compiles the morning announcements, maintains the school’s website, and assists the staff with technical issues. In addition, Waxham is in charge of the school’s marquee, the PTSA Thursday update, and the PTSA newsletter, along with serving as a liaison between student government and the administration (he is also the junior class student body vice-president.)

But why would the administration give one student so much power? After all, Waxham could very easily post that school was cancelled on the official site, or any number of inappropriate possibilities.

Vice Principal Lori Emmington says by having a student serve as Director of Communications, Waxham is able to communicate with his peers on their level and still keep track of everything that goes on at Vista. “And I want Vista to be run by students. You know we’re here to facilitate, to make sure that … all of you get a good education, and that all of you are safe … the learning takes place,” Emmington said. “But really, as often as we can [we] give students an experience that is real life, relevant, meaningful. I think that’s what’s most important.”

Realize, though, that the position of director of communications wasn’t originally intended for a student. Emmington says that she searched for a way to keep up with technology and communication with parents, despite deep budget cuts. The idea of making it student-led came to her after a conversation with Janice Johnson, the adviser to the school’s newspaper.

Emmington says, “And I just, it just hit me: if the students are creating such an amazing newspaper and are becoming so aware of how to talk to the public through media, why can’t they also be the ones that help us get information out to students and parents?”

Emmington also says that, before choosing him, she knew Waxham was extremely responsible and mature, and that he came highly recommended to her by his teachers, Janice Johnson and Heidi Schultz.

Johnson says that Waxham was a confident, relaxed, mature student in her Newspaper Production class, and is the kind of student she hopes she will know long after he graduates.

“There will never be another Reed at this school, which is really kind of a sad thing because of the fact that the school has gotten used to functioning with Reed, and it’s going to be hard to find someone who could do that when Reed’s gone.”

Waxham continues to write for the school newspaper as a political contributor, politics being one of his passions. Previously, he was freshman class vice-president and a member of the student senate. This summer, he also interned for Representative Ami Bera. In his free time, he says he watches the news and manages his own stockbroker account.

So, how does he does he manage to fulfill all of his duties and still take AP classes, much less sleep? Waxham says he tries to plan his week in advance, getting ahead earlier in the week.

However, as important as it is to understand everything Waxham has accomplished and all of the fans he has at Vista (Emmington jokingly alternates between calling him ‘son’ and ‘dad’), Johnson has another note for readers.

“You know, I think it’s important that we all remember that Reed, just like everybody else, puts his pants on one foot at a time,” she laughed. “Sometimes we forget Reed is a teenager, but he’s a really good person, and he’s one of those rare people who can connect with teenagers and connect with adults.”

How does it feel for Waxham to be Director of Communications for the entire school, to have his own office in the vice principals’ office and an administration-issued walkie talkie?

“It has it’s moments,” Waxham said. “It, more than anything, probably makes me a little humble. I’m kind of like, ‘Wow, why did they let me do this?’ And, you know, thankful for the opportunity to do it from Mrs. Emmington and Mrs. Botsford.”