There was no school newspaper during CNN news anchor Susan Candiotti's high school days at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School.
It didn't matter, and it especially didn't matter that there was no school TV news cameras in the school's supply rooms.
"I'm amazed that some schools have TV newscasts. I don't know if it's necessary. Seems to be more important things in high school," she said.
Candiotti, a 1972 Bishop Guilfoyle graduate, made a homecoming visit on Thursday, speaking to more than 300 students in the school gymnasium about the importance of education.
A student asked her how well Bishop Guilfoyle prepared her for her career.
"The English and writing classes - these were the skills I needed for my job," the award-winning journalist said. "And language classes - taking Spanish taught me that even if you're not fluent, people respond positively to you if they see that you are trying to communicate."
And Candiotti's ability to roll with live telecasts began with roles in four Bishop Guilfoyle drama club musicals including "My Fair Lady" and "Oklahoma" and competing with the school's forensics team, which she fondly recalled several times during her lecture.
Most recently in her career, Candiotti has covered former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky's sentencing for child-sexual abuse, but she spoke to the students Thursday about stories including being the first reporter to arrive in Haiti to cover the catastrophic earthquake in 2010.
Her resume includes covering major national events including the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.
"I grew up in the civil rights era. I knew I wanted to tell stories like that. I knew I wanted to be in the front row of history," she said.
Candiotti gained TV and newswriting experience as a student at Loyola University in Chicago. But even in her college years, there were no easy avenues to the news business.
"I called news stations myself to make internships," she said.
Candiotti joined CNN in 1994.
She is a national correspondent for CNN based in the network's New York bureau, where she covers regional assignments and breaking news.
Candiotti has covered major national stories and was part of the network's award-winning investigative team covering the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. She continues to specialize in terror cases and law enforcement reporting.
Candiotti said a favorite aspect of her job is that she gets to "be a detective." When she learned from a source that terrorists who conducted the 9/11 attacks had lived in Miami, she had information that no one else knew, she said.
"We were there as it was unraveling," she said.
Candiotti's appearance was part of the school's second annual lecture series proposed by the Bishop Guilfoyle Board of Trustees and sponsored by the Bishop Guilfoyle Alumni Association.
Board President Michael Fiore and board member Doug Wolf said the lecture series is to inspire students with worldwide achievements of the school's graduates.
Wolf smiled and noted that things have changed since Candiotti graduated from Bishop Guilfoyle. The school currently has a student newspaper and a BG TV newscast.
But Candiotti would be proud to know that students still have all of the theology, language and writing opportunities that also shaped her career.
"Her message to me was to try as many different things as you can to find where your energy and love is. That's long been a hallmark for BG," Wolf said. "Our job in the Catholic school system is to help children find their mission in life."
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.