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…

India Kirssin

I could not have asked for a better co-captain this year. I admire your no-nonsense attitude so much. Your mix of toughness and ridiculousness make you both a great editor and a great friend. (I mean, we can see that just from the juxtaposition of your quotes on the wall: “They’re called DEADlines for a reason” and “I just think about Abe Lincoln sometimes.”) What I valued most about you this year is that I always knew you would get it done, no matter what it took. Though I came close to meltdowns when you skittered off to travel destinations early in the year, my trust in you never wavered. Paper about to self-destruct? We will split the damage. India will finish her part, and it will be excellent when she does. My turn to skitter away? India has got this. I am so grateful for you. While working on pages until 11 p.m. is not exactly a dream weekend, I had so much fun designing alpaca covers and telling stupid jokes with you. Even our casual roasting of the staff writers helped get me through the constant stress. I know you will have a great four years at Elon University, and I cannot wait to see how you put that trademark India fierceness to work. (Also, do not overlook the train to Virginia.)

Eric Miller

Big E! Thank you for making me look tiny and slim in every group editor photo we took this year. Okay, just kidding…kind of. In actuality, it has been great to have a Sports Editor who breathes sports. Seeing you come in as a little baby eighth grader, I worried you may not fit in easily to the staff, or you would feel like the odd one out. Then in you came with this dominant personality and go-getter attitude. Now look at you; you are an honorary senior with the respect of everyone on staff. I had a great time at the softball game with you this past week. Seeing you in your element as a Sports Radio announcer made the year feel full circle. Not going to lie, I am incredibly jealous of your ability to turn athletic prowess into dollar bills, but I know you deserve every offer that comes your way. Whether you rock that Crimson or OU pride in a year, I know you will be great.

Asia Porter

I have always admired your talent. You have tackled topics such as interracial dating, the OSU attacks, and historical movies with equal ease. But what I have loved most this year is seeing you come out of your shell. Maybe it is just because we did not interact as directly last year, but I do not think that is just it. Asia, you are sassy! I see pieces of India in you but with your own spin. I could listen to you roast our current or incoming staff every day of the week, and I know you have the guts needed to get it done next year. You have already improved so much with page layout, and I cannot wait to see what happens when you take the reins. If I may, a few words of advice: do not let the stress break you. It will try. Stay sassy; stay fun. You will likely become “business” within C103, but outside of it, let loose with the staff and give yourself a break. You are good enough. You always will be.

Ashton Nichols

Earn that money, Ashton! Seriously, I think you are Mr. Conner’s biggest success story, because he never stops talking about how the shy baby Ashton turned in to this fierce, guns-a-blazing Business Manager (and kickass writer) who strikes fear in Dr. Gail Kist-Kline. But I knew shy baby Ashton, and she was pretty cool. We got our sea legs together, each learning how to navigate waters of deadlines, and edits, and certain catastrophe. Now I consider you a close friend. I admire your fearlessness – your ability to tackle stories on heroin, valedictorians, district renovations with such persistence and professionalism amazes me. That you called 911 to get in touch with the Warren County Coroner will be a story I tell for life. You are going to CRUSH IT at Ohio University. Seriously. Someone at the Post is going to be booted to make way for you. Oh yeah.

Ryan D’Souza

If you could pause rolling your eyes, to get to the end of this “Thank You” I would appreciate it. What? Too late? Oh, well, I will continue anyway. Ryan, I do not pretend to take credit for your awesomeness, but I consider you to be one of the greatest successes of the 2016-17 school year. I even wrote about you in my college essays, because here was this precocious sophomore that came in with an attitude sour enough to halt production in its tracks. We sat in the hallway and prophesied how long you would be on staff. Then somewhere along the way, you changed. Maybe you just need time to see how the Chronicle happened. Maybe you just needed time to feel like a part of the team. Whatever it was, you became invaluable. You saved the paper from catastrophe over and over again, and you continue to surprise me with the depths of your talent. Every page has your name on it, and that is exactly how it should be. Even more so, you became a regular at our Hell Weekends at India’s house, and your sharp sense of humor became the high points of our group message. You are part of the team, now, more than ever. You know you are talented, you have the ego to go along with it, but I hope you have the pride too. Sometimes you still seem a little surprised to be at the top of the visual food chain, but you are an editor through and through. I cannot wait to see what you do with your next two years on staff.

Calista Busch

Calista! When you applied to be on staff, I saw a lot of myself in you, as cheesy as that sounds. Quiet, Power of the Pen background, loves books and words. I hoped you would find a home here as I did. Maybe it did not work out that way, but I respect your honesty in looking forward and where you see yourself for the final years of high school. I hope you know, however, that this does not mean you were any less valued in your time here on staff. You have always been a hard-worker, a deep thinker, and no matter what organizations occupy your time these next two years, they are lucky to have you.

Arnav Damodhar

“Where’s Arnav?” Hah, just kidding. Three years, Arnav – you survived three years on the Chronicle staff. That’s incredible. It has been a long time coming to get to this point, and if I may, it seems like you have been under some stress this year. We all have. Writing a great skateboarding story, starting a Social Studies National Honors Society, applying to college…it’s a lot. It has been great getting to know you these three years, and I am so happy you have found a home at Miami University. I hope Farmer’s succeeds all of your expectations.

Joey Deaton

Lil Deaton! We only took you on the Chronicle staff because we missed Gina. Hah, just kidding. I think your sports story written to sports cover story ratio can speak to that. Plus, anyone besides me who corrects grammar mercilessly is always welcome aboard. Seeing you dominate on the sports staff has been awesome, even if we have not interacted a lot directly. You will be a great mentor next year. Best of luck with Sports Radio as well (but Chronicle coverage is the supreme).

Juliana Discher

I am so thankful for you. Every time this year when it felt like the Chronicle (and the world) were burning around me, so like every third hour, I always knew I could count on you to put the fire out. Whether it was writing a last minute story, snatching that much needed source, or snapping a killer photo, you did it all. You were also an incredible mentor to the newbies. You lead in the best way possible – by example – and the newbies tried their best to follow suit. (There is only one Disch.) Yep, we are officially at that point in our three-year friendship when my phone autocorrects “dish” to “disch,” and I have forgotten any other meaning of the word. I love your party-planning finesse, your delightfully wicked powerpoints, and your harassment of the newbies into bringing a proper breakfast. You will be an excellent Buckeye. Keep me posted.

Jacob Fulton

Jacob! How dare you move and abandon me! What, I will not be here next year, you say? Irrelevant. You have come to embody the Chronicle mentality this year. You are always searching for the next task, the next project, and I want you to know we appreciate it. It has always been clear to me how much this staff means to you, and watching you come into your own as an adept multimedia reporter has been such a rewarding experience. (Not to reveal confidential information but perhaps your name may have been in the pool for editorship if you had not been abandoning us…) Anyway, no matter how bitter I may be to lose you, I know you will show that non-Chronicle, sorry-excuse-for-a-newspaper how it is done.

Bryan Hudnell

Bryan, you are a secret softie. I read your blog: you have a good heart. A capacity for forgiveness I just do not have, and the ability to start a respectful, polite dialogue about a dissenting opinion. Not to mention I love how you blog at all, when the rest of our staff, myself included, has become so lazy about it. I also still find it hilarious how I walked in to Mrs. Bross’ room one day to find “Voice is like the beef and cheddar at Arby’s” on her door, and I knew immediately who had written that. Arby’s obsession and all, you have the potential to be a great leader among the sports staff next year, and I hope you take advantage of it. So for coordinating Food Friday and getting it done, thank you and best of luck next year.

Luke Hutchinson

Giraffe! Low bar! Loveable goof! The names go on. You have been an amazing writer this year. You have a humor niche that is perfect for feature. Your writing just reads effortlessly, easily, which is a huge compliment after some of the drafts I have seen this year, believe me. The quotes you manage to get out of people always make me laugh, and laying out your pages is always my favorite. I am excited for you as Online Editor next year – just do not bring the low bar with you. In all seriousness, I hope you will abandon seriousness at all the right moments. Going after people to cover CSPN events will take a lot from you, as will staying up until 3 a.m. to post football coverage, and I hope you never lose your trademark bubbliness. You are always positive, always a good giraffe, and please do not ever let that get away from you.

Alexandra Lisa

Alex, I need you to cut 450 words. No, not really, I just thought I would start this conversation like we start most of ours. When you are a true writer as you are, big ideas (and therefore cuts) are inevitable. Though you have had some great journalistic pieces this year, I have looked forward to reading your columns the most. Your column about the easiness of “special” in a participation award society was especially a favorite of mine. You have a way of seeing past privilege or outside expectation to just write to the truth. I look forward to continuing to read your work.

Charlie MacKenzie

Hey, blondie, dumb twin, however we want to start this. You have become a Chronicle staple. I admire how you have been able to stay so upbeat this year, while always crushing it with your print and CSPN coverage. I mean, all India does is roast, and even she could think of nothing negative to say about you. Though your “One bite. Everyone knows the rules.” mid-semester obsession may have been irritating, your work ethic and kindness have proved no dumb MacKenzie twin exists.

Duncan MacKenzie

Your quietness is deceiving. It’s that “smart twin” exterior, and sure, when you write, it is earth-shattering, award-winning copy. You are also always on time and always killing it, so that you are never called out may cause you to fly under the radar. And yet, your Eric Miller impression is the best thing I have ever seen. You have a great sense of humor, and sarcasm, which coupled with your work ethic just makes you an awesome reporter. It has been great to have you on staff this year, as well as to grow up with you these three years. Go Bucks.

Isabel Marotta

I am so glad you got to end your time on the Chronicle with a cover story. Whether or not you always felt like it, you completely deserve it. Maybe video production is your wheelhouse, but you also have a talent for writing, and I hope it continues to follow you in journalism, advertising, or whatever field you may choose to pursue. It has been a great year for MBC as well, and I have loved watching you find your style in the broadcast. It is the best part of homeroom, and you best believe I will be watching this final broadcast. Good luck next year.

Jonathan McCollough

You probably will not ever read this, because your crippling senioritis will have caused you to block anything even remotely affiliated with the Chronicle, including my blog. If you ever do read this, know that despite your seeming laziness, we all know you are faking it. Your status this year as the go-to photographer, for both print and online stories, has been super helpful, and we understand it’s not easy. You are also an excellent writer, and your stories about the election and the Cost of Greatness have been incredible. If I may, sometimes it seems like you have resigned your perception of yourself to one of averageness, like you believe you are just a middler because of the skewed Mason standard. You are not a middler. Though you claim you love money, and business is the career field for you, I hope you will learn to trust in your talents – in writing, in persistence, and in deep critical thinking. I hope you take these skills and the confidence from the Chronicle with you, even if you sell yourself to Wall Street. Hindsight (and Hillary?) is 2020.

Eric Michael

*skrrt skrrt*

Ria Parikh

Stalk those sources, Ria! Your persistence is incredible, and I have enjoyed reading your yoga and makeup stories this year. Your help with Mason in the Middle has also been much appreciated. Though the stress of the Chronicle can be overwhelming, I encourage you to take some deep breaths because you are capable. The more you trust yourself, the more your stories will sing. I cannot wait to see what you do next.

Meghan Pottle

Meg P! You are a gift to the Chronicle staff. You lead by example, and I could always count on you to do anything for the paper, no matter how strange or inconvenient. Just today, you immediately offered to take pictures for the Physics boat race and saved us from an embarrassing lapse in coverage. But you also had two cover stories this year, the only staff member to do so, which just shows how quality your work is. I do not think we cut you from print once, either. You are a Grade-A reporter, but you are also an incredibly kind human with whom it is a joy to share C103. Have a great time on the West Coast, but I refuse to wave goodbye until you finally sing for the staff, you dynamo you.

Alekya Raghavan

Our quotable moment together I think is the fake news edition. When a couple weeks before I told you if you would just turn a draft in on time, you could write a cover story. You pitched a story about fake news a few days later, and again I told you I could not promise it any room in print. Then we put it on the cover. Whenever I am copy-editing the paper, yours is always the story I lose myself in, the story I forget I am supposed to be editing. You have a way of making any topic in-depth and interesting, and I hope you will teach the newbies your magic ways next year.

Lauren Thomas

It was such an honor working with you this year. Though we ended up working on the transgender story together, I want you to know I truly consider it your work. You have such a pure heart and pure intentions, and I have no doubt it was all you that got the sources to open up so honestly. You had no ulterior motive or agenda; you were not writing that story to see your byline on a cover story or to win any awards. From your pitch, it was clear you wanted to write this story because you felt transgender students are human first, people first, and not enough of the news coverage reflected it. Reporters had talked to me previously about how journalism had the power to give voices to the voiceless, but that never felt real to me until you brought me in to this story and showed me it was possible. I am so thankful to you for that. You will be a great senior returnee and leader next year. I hope you can show more newbies what real journalism is.

Delaney Turner

You are such a kind soul. You always have a smile on your face, and the stress of the Chronicle never seems to get to you. Maybe that is an act, but if so, it is a good one. I really appreciate your help with Mason in the Middle this year. My mom tells me you have given the kids excellent feedback, and it is so rewarding to see how you have helped this fledgling program to flourish. You have much more patience than I do, and I have no doubt you will be a great mentor to the newbies next year. (They will seem like pros after the middle schoolers!)

Freddie Wilhelm

Goodbye for now.
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