When Jacob Ranney was a freshman at Cordova High School his home economics teacher had him write a letter to his future self. The 17-year-old, who graduated last week, said he didn’t remember what he wrote four years back.
“I read it and I was talking about how I wanted to do writing,” he said. “That was funny to me, that I didn’t realize that I had wanted to do it for so long.”
The recent grad just finished his internship at the Cordova Times, where he reported on community stories, photographed town events, and compiled everyone’s favorite page 13 comics and puzzle section. He started with the paper during the first year of its new ownership, and worked with various reporters and editors throughout personnel transitions.
To commemorate his efforts, and help send him off on his next adventure, the newspaper has awarded the new grad a $1,500 scholarship for college.
“I’ve always liked writing and then I kind of just put two and two together and realized that if I could make a career out of doing something that I enjoy then that would be perfect,” he said.
Ranney was born in Pennsylvania, but has lived in Cordova since he was 4 years old. He said his childhood and adolescence in Prince William Sound has been an all-encompassing, communal experience.
“You kind of end up being raised by everyone,” Ranney said. “It’s not just your parents raising you, it’s the people who work at the grocery store or the people you pass on the street every day on the way to school.”
When the new grad reflects back on who he was at the start of high school, he said his own personal progress is tangible.
“I feel like there isn’t a single way I haven’t changed,” Ranney said.
After fishing in Bristol Bay this summer, the 17-year-old is off to Western Washington University in Bellingham next fall, in the first big move of his life. He said he has some of the classic senior year uneasiness about going to college, but for the most part he’s excited. He plans to study journalism and minor in music — one of his other primary passions.
If Ranney could write another letter to himself to read after his college graduation, he said he hopes to grow in his areas of study.
“I would hope that by the time I’m graduating college I’ll have some sort of footing in writing and also making music — I guess to have stepping stones that prepare me for continuing,” he said.