VAN NUYS, Calif. – While spending the last days of school taking his AP exams, Mhar Tenorio found the quietest room in his house, his closet. Tenorio has to finish his exams before he graduates, but he's using every spare moment to keep his real passion going, the school newspaper.

What You Need To Know

  • Senior Mhar Tenorio has been overseeing 40 student writers and editors

  • He is running the school’s newspaper remotely

  • Moved to Los Angeles from the Philippines

  • Will attend Stanford University in the fall

“Well, it's responsible for journalists to keep our audiences informed. So now it's more important than ever to keep the website alive,” said Tenorio.

Tenorio started in the journalism program at the Van Nuys High School student news website, The Mirror, as a writer when he was a freshman. One year after he and his family moved to Los Angeles from the Philippines, he became the online editor-in-chief.

Since the campus closed back in March, Tenorio has been remotely overseeing 40 other student writers and editors who are contributing stories, photos, and videos that might be of interest to their classmates.

Working for The Mirror helped Tenorio develop from being a shy kid into a student leader.

“I started as a features and news writer, which involved a lot of like, interviews with people, so yes, I really had to put myself out there to produce stories. I was also really excited to explore the artistic aspects of journalism,” he said.

The Mirror is sharing student experiences during the pandemic and keeping them informed about school developments like virtual graduation plans. Tenorio edits and approves everything before it gets posted online.

 “It’s really special how committed we are in adjusting through this pandemic,” said Tenorio.

Four years of honing his journalism skills have paid off.

He won first place in news writing at the CSUN fall regional write offs and became the co-captain of the academic decathlon team at his school. His photo illustrations are an integral part of many of the online stories. He also revamped the entire website and for the first time, The Mirror was honored nationally.

“Earlier this month our website won seventh place in Best of Show at the National Student Press Association. It’s a big deal for me,” said Tenorio.

While he is disappointed he won't be able to attend a traditional graduation ceremony, his high school accomplishments haven't been for nothing. He will be attending Stanford University in the fall.

“I was speechless basically. Like, I just stared at my computer screen with my hand and I was like, 'Wow,'” said Tenorio.

The class of 2020 will certainly be remembered for the incredible challenges of graduating during a pandemic.  

“Definitely the class of 2020 has something special. Basically, we're living in a historical moment. And not everything gets to experience what we experience. So I guess it's something different though, we're basically going to remember for the rest of our lives,” said Tenorio.

Going to Washington D.C. for a journalism convention was one of Tenorio’s most memorable moments from his senior year. His byline will be his most memorable contribution to the proud class of 2020.