AHS TWIST takes school by storm

Earlier this year, senior Ezgi Ustundag had a brilliant idea: why not create a website to keep the Ames High students informed about activities happening in the community? From this, she created a glorious site – The AHS TWIST. The TWIST features sports, music, and other activities in the Ames community that high schoolers would be interested in. Ustundag first got the concept for TWIST around the first semester finals this school year, which was motivated by her desire to group all aspects of Ames High student life into one website and an attempt to find something to keep her busy during second semester, which it has been effectively doing. Ustundag says that she’s proud of all of the talent in Ames High, and she wished to showcase it in some way that was easy for students to access and contribute to. The TWIST publishes stories two or three times a week and claims to be timelier than The Web, though many stories appear on the website later in the week when the writers have time to finish their stories. Ustundag hopes that in future years, the site will be more proactive in the publication of stories. In the few months that the TWIST has existed, the staff writers have covered a number of diverse events. Their biggest feature so far has been Aquapalooza, a music festival that will be held in the AHS gym on April 7 to raise money for the Clean Water Movement to construct a new well in Uganda. There are also several video features of the headlining bands that are scheduled for the coming weeks, which Ustundag has been working on with juniors Melissa Jones and Jon Laczniak. Since Ustundag and website designer Renee Chang are both seniors, a big challenge in the coming months will be finding eligible underclassmen to replace them that will keep the site timely and active. Ustundag says that so far it’s been hard to get staff members to come up with their own stories and photo gallery ideas, so she’s had to “spoon-feed” assignments via Facebook; this makes it even more worrisome that next year the website will fall apart if no one steps up to the plate. These two seniors are trying to “groom” some of the juniors and sophomores to take ownership, and they have a lot of great freshmen on staff who will be instrumental in its longevity. Since its inception, the TWIST has been busy; there have been some days where they get over 1000 hits. However, there are also days where they get less than 100, though on average they get about 300. Ustundag posts many links to the website and updates the photo galleries and stories on Facebook and Twitter, which has helped to generate much of the traffic. Even though its popularity has been quickly increasing, it has not hit the point where people automatically check it for upcoming Ames events, which Ustundag says “will take some time.” Though it may be a while before it becomes a great force in the Ames community, the TWIST certainly has been making headway, starting with AHS. This is definitely a website that will take the city by storm.