From AP Language to the Wall Street Journal: Allison Pohle’s story

Allison Pohle being crowned Solons Homecoming Queen at a 2009 football game.

Allison Pohle

Allison Pohle being crowned Solon’s Homecoming Queen at a 2009 football game.

Ethan Dobres, Contributing Writer

Seven years ago, well before the Comet Calming Center, STOP SC, and the daily mindfulness lessons, Allison Pohle shared her story of suffering mental illness at Solon High School (SHS). Her blog, written on “The Archipelago,” was read 915,000 times. In it, Pohle reflected on a story from her senior year of high school: despite battling depression, she ran for the school’s Homecoming queen and won. The blog marked a key point in her writing career, which most notably includes reporting for the Wall Street Journal, America’s second most popular newspaper. Last month, hundreds of thousands of readers saw her first front-page article for the publication, reporting on people being left on hold by airlines. Her journey started here in Solon.

Pohle attended Solon Schools from first grade to her graduation in 2010. As a student at SHS, Pohle was involved in several extracurricular activities.

“I did show choir (Music in Motion), Drama Club, and the Courier,” she said.

Pohle’s teachers remember her as an exemplary student who performed at a high level, including SHS English teacher Nanci Bush.

“[Allison] was an excellent student,” Bush said. “She always had her work done. She really liked English.”

Mrs. Bush, who had Pohle in her AP English Language class said that Allison has always been a strong writer who “used figurative language and lots of pretty phrasing in her articles and essays.”

Fellow English teacher Laura Fitch had similar memories of Pohle in her AP English Literature class.

“Her use of sentence structure and word choice… was her talent,” Fitch said.

Fitch also described Pohle as a delightful person with “a quiet pose and a quiet strength.”

Following her May 2010 graduation from SHS, Pohle attended University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. After finishing college, Pohle wrote articles as a freelance writer. Noticing that it had been five years since she was crowned Solon’s 2009 Homecoming Queen, she decided to write an article reflecting on that experience. Pohle shared her article, “The Saddest Homecoming Queen in Ohio” on Facebook in October 2014.

“I didn’t think it would get any attention,” Pohle said. “I was a little nervous because I had never talked about my mental health struggles publicly before. It went viral off my personal Facebook status. I was super surprised.”

Pohle continued to remember the impact the article had on her and her readers.

“People I didn’t know were messaging me about it,” Pohle said. “I heard from a lot of people who had struggled with different types of mental health issues, so that was really cool to hear that they felt less alone after reading it.”

Pohle explained how SHS did very little to combat the mental health problems present in the school when she attended in the late 2000s, an environment foreign to current students, who attend mental health assemblies and walk past brand-new inspirational murals in between mindful minutes.

“There’s a new awareness about [mental health],” Pohle commented. “I think a lot of people at Solon know how stressful it is and how there’s a lot of pressure to do well, some of it imposed by the students themselves, some of it just by being a Solon student and how the entire system is really stressful.”

She wrote about the stress she felt while sitting in front of the school as a member of the Homecoming court.

“I was not happy,” Pohle wrote in her viral article. “I was shaking in terror. I was scared that, just by stepping into the gym, I would eclipse the mood.”

In her first job out of college, having moved well-past her high school experiences, Pohle worked as a research assistant for an investigative journalism outlet for six months.

“It was awesome,” she said. “I learned a lot about being an investigative reporter.”

She was later hired as a reporter for the Boston Globe’s Boston.com site. Pohle, who had not been to Boston since her trip with Mrs. Bush’s English class in 11th grade, wrote about local news for the paper. She also served as a producer and director for NPR-WBUR’s On-Point podcast for three years, before being hired by the Wall Street Journal to report on news relating to Millennials and Gen-Z. She now reports more on travel issues for the paper. Pohle has spent the recent months of the pandemic writing about the numerous updates in the world of travel.

“There’s so many new announcements about where people can and can’t go,” Pohle said. “That’s been keeping me pretty busy.”

Pohle expressed how she wasn’t sure what would happen to her August 2021 article, co-written with Krystal Hur, titled “Need to Call an Airline? Your Hold Time Will Be Approximately One Zillion Hours.” But after about a month in limbo, it appeared on the paper’s front-page. The column appeared in the A-hed section of the Wall Street Journal, which Pohle described as a more light-hearted story on the front page, contrasting with the often darker front-page news.

Solon High School has had several alumni go on to work in journalism careers. Bush noted two other journalists, CNBC reporter Melissa Repko and New York Times senior staff editor Jessica Schnall, were both graduates of Solon High School. Other SHS alumni who later worked as journalists include WKYC sports reporter Nick Camino, former Cincinnati Enquirer writer Julia Fair and ESPN baseball correspondent Jeff Passan.

Pohle also linked her current career with her time in high school.

“[My time at SHS] was when I first realized I wanted to be a journalist,” Pohle stated. “If I hadn’t taken the journalism classes, I probably would’ve been on a different path…

“I’m grateful that I was able to try out journalism in high school and get that experience,” Pohle said. “It’s been a winding road. It’s really cool to interview people for a living and try to give [the public] useful information too,” Pohle said.

Bush and Fitch, who both still teach the classes where Pohle’s writing career began, proudly reflected on their student from over a decade ago.

Fitch said that she was not surprised at all by the success that Pohle has found.

“We’re so proud of Solon’s own,” she said. “We wish her all the best with what will be a long career.”

Bush commented on the strength of her character.

“I think she’s just a good person,” Bush said. “Above and beyond all she’s a good person.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email