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How do you measure a year?
July 05, 2014, 05:00 AM By Annika Ulrich

Over the last few weeks, I have found that there is one song constantly playing in my head. It’s not one of this summer’s pop radio hits — although several of those have proved to be quite catchy — but “Seasons of Love,” written and composed by Jonathan Larson for the musical “Rent.”

Although I have never had the pleasure of seeing “Rent” performed, the song moves me every time I hear it. My favorite part is the bridge which proclaims, “Five-hundred-twenty-five-thousand-six-hundred minutes. How do you measure, measure a year?”

It’s a powerful question and one that I have been pondering now that my time at the Daily Journal is coming to a close and I’m preparing to start college. How do we measure our time and what makes it meaningful?

Reflecting on the last 12 months, I realize that the best way for me to measure the last year is through the Daily Journal.

In addition to serving as a contributor to the weekly Student News column, I come to the Daily Journal office every Friday and assist the staff with various office tasks. One of those tasks is managing and organizing the community calendar.

When I started working as an intern at the Daily Journal last July, the entries I was assigned to enter into the calendar can be best described as summery: concerts in the park, wine festivals, barbecues. I got the hang of the formatting and the summer events gave way to the pumpkin carving contests and back-to-school specials of autumn. Winter and spring followed, and now I find the entries are much like those I was inputting when I first started: summer gatherings celebrating being together as a community.

Like many good experiences, my time at the Daily Journal has come full circle. Now, it’s time to take what I’ve learned with me to college and beyond. Over the last year I’ve written about Sheryl Sandberg, thank you cards, my parents and food, among other topics, for Daily Journal readers. Through this, I’ve come to understand a powerful idea: No matter how old we are or what background we come from, we can always find ways to relate to and connect with each other.

When I was working at the Outlook, Aragon High School’s student newspaper, we were constantly asking ourselves what is relevant to high school students — even more specifically, Aragon Dons. While I love writing for my peers, it was a special challenge to write for a broader audience, such as Daily Journal readers.

It was difficult at first but with time I found that there are so many things happening in our community and in the world that are worth talking about. I learned an incredible amount both in and out of the Daily Journal office, and writing these columns pushed me to really reflect on those experiences and practice explaining my ideas in writing. I hope that my columns sparked thoughts, reactions or discussions for readers of all ages and interests.

While the word “grateful” does not really do my emotions justice, I must say that I am very grateful for the experiences being a Daily Journal intern has given me. These experiences have been especially enriching because of some very special mentors and friends. To my Aragon teachers, thank you for helping me develop the confidence and skills to share my thoughts through words. I would also like to acknowledge my friends and family for being a part of many of the memories that would inspire my columns and for supporting me over the last 18 years.

To the Daily Journal staff, thank you for making me laugh, pushing me to think and creating such a positive first-job atmosphere.   

And of course, my sincere appreciation to readers. Please know that the time you have spent reading my columns, however small, means a great deal to me.

The seasons never stop changing and we never stop growing. Use every single one of those 525,600 minutes this year and the years after that.

Annika Ulrich is a recent graduate of Aragon High School in San Mateo. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at



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