Ava Millman isn’t the type of person who coasts. When she’s in, she’s all in. Whether it’s sitting at a computer writing a story or skating around an ice rink with a hockey stick in her hand, Millman is wired to give her best.
Just think of Millman as Mailman – she always delivers.
A senior at Community High School, Millman is one of four editors of The Communicator, the award-winning school newspaper which recently won “First Place Best in Show” at the 2018-2029 National Scholastic Press Association Conference. She’s also one of the top players and a team captain on the highly successful and talented Pioneer girls’ hockey team.
She loves doing both things. In fact, she wants to continue doing both next year in college. So where to start? Well, let’s put hockey on ice for a moment.
Ava, the daughter of Karen and Darren Millman, has a 4.0 grade-point average despite having to deal with the time commitments of helping run and manage the school newspaper and play a varsity sport – among other things.
Millman has won numerous state-level journalism awards and earned an honorable mention for editing at the recent national conference.
She also is a member of the Community ski club, a volunteer with the Rockets Disabled Hockey organization, and is a head coach of the Blue Jays fifth and sixth-grade girls’ lacrosse team.
So, how does she do it?
“I have five hours of class time in the newsroom and can be found there most days at lunch writing, designing, editing or just hanging out with most of my best friends who are also on staff,” she says. “We have a staff of over 60 students and I like to compare being editor-in-chief (EIC) to being a captain of the football team.
“I spend at least 10 hours/week working, and if we are in production or I am working on a big story that can easily get close to 20 hours.”
Millman joined the newspaper staff during the first semester of her sophomore year. And she admits the first few months were more labor than love.
“The way that our journalism class was structured there was not an introductory course or even an introductory lesson really,” she said. “I remember that it was a solid month before I even knew that the senior staff member telling me what to do was the EIC. All I knew was that I liked to write and I liked to talk to people.”
The Communicator’s advisor, Tracy Anderson, frequently told the staff to think of themselves as journalists and not students so Millman decided to do just that. During her first semester she asked for press credentials for “Book of Mormon,” which was performing at the Fischer Theater.
“They emailed me back saying that they would be happy to give me two tickets, which just happened to be center floor, eight rows back,” she said. “It was the first time that I saw journalism as more than just an English class, but an outlet where I could really make a difference.”
It was game on! She started taking on bigger and bigger assignments and the following summer in 2017 she went to the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association Camp at MSU.
“It was here I really fell in love with journalism and had professional mentors to help tune my voice,” said Millman, who was named managing editor her junior year and then EIC this year. She has attended conferences in Dallas (2017-2018) and Chicago (2018-2019).
The Communicator puts out six 60-page-editions a year. They have quite a large leadership staff with four print EICs and two Web EICs, along with section editors for both.
“We have the most amazing adviser,” Millman says of Anderson. “She has inspired countless kids to pursue careers in journalism and other media outlets and I am so lucky to have her. The best part about Tracy is that she tries to be as hands-off as possible, letting EICs write lessons for the rest of the class, encouraging creative group problem solving, and most importantly, letting each staff member find their own voice.”
She not only loves writing but learning about people and helping tell their story through her voice.
“I have always been an extroverted person and getting to hear other people’s stories despite whether I have met them already or not is one of the most fun things I have done,” she says. “It can be terrifying walking up to a stranger and interviewing them but after three years I have talked to everyone from homeless downtown to the lieutenant governor. I just love how each story is its own animal and
I never know what I am getting myself into.”
Millman knows exactly what she is getting herself into when she laces up the skates and stops on the ice for the Pioneers. She is one of the team’s top players and a leader on and off the ice.
“My goal for this season as a team is to win a state championship,” she says. “We have gotten so close every year I have played. It’s like every time March comes around I can taste it. The cards just haven’t fallen in our favor yet.”
Millman joined the team her sophomore year. She played tier 1 AAA for Compuware during her freshman year then switched to better balance school, hockey and my other interests.
Skating off as a state champion would be a great final chapter in her Pioneer hockey story.
“I think that we have all of the ingredients we need to be successful in the playoffs,” she says. “It all comes down to effort. We are just going to have to want it.”
Millman knows what she wants after high school, but she is still trying to figure out where. Of course her choices are impressive: Notre Dame, U-M and the United States Naval Academy are at the top of her list. She plans to partake in the Navy ROTC program and attend college on a four-year National NROTC Scholarship.
“I hope to keep playing hockey and writing,” she says. “They are my two greatest passions after all.”