St. Paul’s School alumnus Mark Bonner returned to the campus for the first time since his graduation in 2000 to speak with the current staff of The Paper Wolf, the St. Paul’s school newspaper. Bonner talked with the young writers about his experiences with the publication and how it affected his life.
Bonner, who struggled throughout his high school career, decided to choose journalism for his senior elective. “I thought the journalism class was going to be an easy A,” Bonner said. “The class turned out to be a turning point in my life that still affects me today.”
“I was never a very strong student, and I struggled all the way through St. Paul’s,” Bonner said. “However in journalism, I found that I was good at something. This made me feel that I was amongst the strongest of my class, despite my grades and class ranking.”
St. Paul’s had a tradition of releasing the senior class rankings during the time Bonner attended the school. “I was a little embarrassed,” Bonner said. “I was almost at the bottom of the list. People had told me throughout my life that I wasn’t going to amount to anything.”
Bonner continued, “I used the grades to drive myself not only in my St. Paul’s career, but in my journalism profession. I still struggled in my classes, but I kept pushing forward.”
Bonner became the Entertainment Editor for The Paper Wolf and went on to take First Place in Journalism at the regional Literary Rally while he attended St. Paul’s. After graduating, Bonner became a part of the editorial staff at Southeastern Louisiana University’s Lion’s Roar and later the Managing Editor of LSU’s Daily Reveille. After graduation, Bonner wrote for the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, the Times-Picayune, and the Jackson Clarion-Ledger before moving to New York to continue pursuit of his writing and publishing career. Currently, he is the editor of Graphis, a book publishing company located in New York.
Bonner concluded his talk with the students with advice for their future lives. “Grades don’t define you as a human being. Don’t listen to the people who tell you what you can and cannot do. You should follow your dreams no matter what. I thought I could never work in a big city like New York because I lived in a small city like Covington, but by following my dreams, I achieved that goal.”
“If you want to be successful in life, you have to find your passion and do what you want to do no matter what. You don’t have second chances in life, so you have to be vigilant and do what makes you happy.”
[photo credit: St. Paul's School]