An Open Letter to My Chronicle Staff

To all my 2016-2017 Chronnies:

Two years ago, in my final days as a Chronicle newbie, I felt sad to see the 2014-2015 seniors leave me for unfamiliar and exotic destinations. These were the seniors that had raised me, in more than just the journalistic sense, and saying goodbye made me teary, even though it was not my turn to be sentimental. 

Now, it is my turn to don the cap and gown, try not to laugh when the valedictorian insists fallaciously that she should have spend high school doing something more than studying, and pretend not to tear up at the speech just the same. Yet, as much a champion of high school drama the graduation process is, this year I find myself with surprisingly little to say.

What can close-caption a year like this? It was different, to be sure, but I think less due to sudden senior status and more because our dynamic shifted. Whether anyone had intended it or not, subconsciously everyone on staff shifted their interactions with me. I was no longer a sounding board for ideas so much as an unavoidable conversation about deadlines. If you think I was annoying sending out that 87th Group Me message directly mentioning you about why your draft was not done, trust me: I annoyed myself too.

Learning to produce a Chronicle was new to me, and I know in the beginning, I messed it up. A lot. Over and over again. But rather than ramble about how much I have learned this year, I would much rather thank each of you for learning with me. Though we consider India the “mom” of our group, I genuinely care about each one of you. Sometimes, you do feel like my 24 children, if only because your work continuously makes me proud. My shoutouts and status as “everyone’s hypeman” (thanks, Ryan) just reflect I am always rooting for you, and I will continue to do so from Charlottesville.

So, thank you to…

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29 steps to make a Chronicle

  1. Pretend to be diligent while coming up with story ideas.
  2. Nod your head at Dale Conner’s inevitable ridiculous suggestion.
  3. Go back to your computer to “brainstorm by yourself,” or look at memes when your editor is not looking.
  4. Pitch a story about social media to the editors.
  5. Hold back tears when you get rejected.
  6. Pitch a decent story idea at the last minute.
  7. Interview, interview, interview.
  8. Tell your editor that your completely available source cannot talk to you until three days after the deadline so that you can stay up binge-watching “13 Reasons Why.”
  9. Transcribe quotes and submit the transcripts as your first draft.
  10. Act confused when your editor is livid.
  11. If step 9 does not work, pull the “I didn’t share it with you?” confusion bit.
  12. 30 minutes before the deadline, write a killer draft.
  13. Watch as the editors rework the entire map to fit your now brilliant story into the edition.
  14. Threaten Meghan Pottle with peanut butter while the editors layout pages.
  15. Play poker while the editors layout pages.
  16. Work on math homework while the editors layout pages.
  17. Eat cookies while the editors layout pages.
  18. Do anything but brainstorm story ideas while the editors layout pages.
  19. On the day of send out, start an improv comedy show that involves a screaming match. 
  20. Ignore the editors when they yell at you to be quiet.
  21. Act super relieved when the editors finally send out.
  22. Twiddle your thumbs until the paper arrives.
  23. Fight over DJ privileges while Ashton bags the paper.
  24. Sleep past 7:15 a.m. on every other distribution day.
  25. If you do show up to distribution day, bring stale donuts or trashy cereal.
  26. Forget to distribute papers to every third classroom. 
  27. Silence your Group Me, so you do not have to hear about how you missed every third classroom. 
  28. Show up to fifth bell to eat pizza, again. 
  29. Repeat 9 times until the end of the year when your editor finally stops roasting you because hey, you are pretty cool after all.

The 3 stages of being on the Chronicle staff

1. Sophomore year: Constant fear of your own shadow and any all interviews. The editors are friendly but also terrifying.

2. Junior year: Stress mode. I have to stay up until what time to post your football story online? You want what now for Mason in the Middle? My story is due WHEN?

3. Senior year: Been-round-the-block cool. Harasses underclassmen about why their drafts are not done and becomes the leader you once feared.

Transgender students struggle to find peace

Jessica Sommerville | Editor in Chief
Lauren Thomas | Staff Writer

In high school, the struggle to fit in has always been one of the biggest challenges students face. For most kids, identifying with a group can be very easy. Some are jocks, gamers, geeks or goths.

For the transgender teen, the typical rites of passage for a high school student can be a nightmare. Their search for acceptance is compounded by the internal struggle to become comfortable in their own skin. The transgender teen has to watch this struggle play out on television, political maneuvering and public debate.

While they are forced to deal with the desire to shed their skin and live a life they believe they were meant to live, they must also deal with a society which is apprehensive to accept them. They don’t want to be judged or ridiculed, they don’t want to be political advocates, they simply want others to accept them and just listen. This is the story of three courageous students at Mason High School who are on a journey to discover themselves as they shed one skin for another. They simply have one request. Just listen.

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I didn’t meme it

True admission to a campus community is not through a college’s admissions letter but its group chat. Through these chats, my peers have not only taught me how to register for admitted student activities but to giggle at “wot in tarnation” cowboy hats and the “Guy Tries to Impress Girl” faux pas, neither of which I had seen before. It seemed silly at first, how seriously one another took their 50-cent jokes when we were all trying decided if we liked each other and this university enough to drop more than our lives’ worth on it.

While memes as we know them are grainy photos of face-plants, academics have defined memes, in their simplest sense, as ideas or behaviors spread through a culture. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins argued that memes were the cultural equivalent of a gene – for just as genes build an organism, memes build a culture.

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