Letter from the editor: The pain of goodbyes
Following an awards ceremony at the National Scholastic Press Association's (NSPA)/Journalism Education Association (JEA) National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle, seniors Mary Hierholzer, from left to right, Nick Avery and David Casuga pose with an Online Pacemaker Award. This year marks the forth time The Feather staff has been honored with a Pacemaker.
Dear Feather staff,
It's been about two weeks since Adviser Greg Stobbe and a group that included Co-Editor-in-Chief Mary Hierholzer and I returned from our sojourn in Seattle. With us, we brought home stories of fountains and fishmongers, knowledge acquired from classes and, of course, the coveted Online Pacemaker Award, an honor many of us did not expect to receive this year.
If you've paid attention in any of Stobbe's classes or even experienced a two-second conversation with him, you'll know by now that the Pacemaker is the National Scholastic Press Association's (NSPA) highest honor, and is often compared to the Pulitzer Prize. This is the award I, as well as many others, have strived for throughout our competition season, especially because The Feather was not recognized as a finalist for the 2010-11 school year.
For the past few months I have watched students flourish in their writing and editing, developing a passion for journalism I'd never seen in students my age. That's why it was so rewarding when, over the period of two consecutive days, we learned that The Feather was a finalist for both the Online Crown Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) and the Online Pacemaker Award.
Yet, that's why it was all the more heartbreaking when we didn't receive the first.
OK, so we did win a Crown, but anything less than a Gold, at the time, felt worthless. Honestly, I think I was so caught up in the mentality of winning that, when The Feather received a Silver Crown in March, I didn't know how to react (I literally froze up at the awards ceremony).
The first couple of days after the staff's trip to New York were some of the most difficult I've experienced this year. Throughout this period of time, I was plagued with the idea that, because of my lack of leadership (or something along those lines) we had missed out on a national award.
"Though Hierholzer and I will be attending college out-of-state next year, we've worked for the past couple weeks training students who will take our place. I've entrusted everything I know to you that remain, and I wouldn't be surprised to see you win both a Gold Crown and an Online Pacemaker next year." -- Nick Avery, Co-Editor-in-Chief
When class convened the next week, I was discouraged, to say the least. But then I remembered something I learned from an instructor at the High School Journalism Institute (HSJI) program I attended this summer. Essentially, while discussing The Feather, he remarked on how caught up we were in receiving accolades. "The goal of a high school publication should not be to win awards," he said. "It should be to cover your campus in a way that's accessible to students."
Of course, I'm completely paraphrasing. But the tenets of the message remain the same, and it's something I want to convey to all of you in this letter:
The reason you are currently enrolled in journalism is not to gain national recognition, a proclamation from the Fresno City Council or a plaque that, let's face it, won't mean anything to you in 20 years. Rather, the reason you are currently enrolled in journalism is to learn how to report online, voice your opinion in a responsible fashion and employ multimedia to your advantage. If you leave the class retaining even a fraction of what Stobbe, Hierholzer, your peers and I are attempting to teach you, it will be for the better. Trust me.
Co-Editor-in-Chief Nick Avery, '12.
Fortunately, for the past semester and a half, I've had the opportunity to witness each and every member of the staff grow in this regard. Whether it be great or minuscule, you've all taken steps towards your journalistic advancement, and, for that, I applaud you.
It's your hard work that the NSPA noticed earlier this year, and it's your determination that allowed us to win our fourth Pacemaker. Had it not been for this year's amazing staff, I might have given up mid-March.
At the Washington State Convention Center, heading to the ceremony honoring Pacemaker finalists, I was contemplating how much respect I held for all those who work on The Feather. To be completely truthful, it was this that I was pondering when, to my surprise, we were named a Pacemaker winner. I can't think of a group that deserves this distinction more than the one I lead day after day.
Yet, unfortunately, I will not grace the halls of Fresno Christian next year. Never again will you hear me yelling with David Casuga while we blast distracting music, or see my weird little notes at the bottom of your articles that I tried to sign differently each time. Never again will I be able to critique you and teach you as I have this year.
However, I will be leaving you in capable hands. Though Hierholzer and I will be attending college out-of-state next year, we've worked for the past couple weeks training students who will take our place. I've entrusted everything I know to you that remain, and I wouldn't be surprised to see you win both a Gold Crown and an Online Pacemaker next year.
Though I am leaving you, I can genuinely state that you will not be leaving me. Attending college at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, I will be a mere 280 miles from Seattle, the place where my staff surprised me and won an award I missed out on as a freshman and a junior. I will always remember you, staff, and I hope you will always remember me.
For my Co-Editor-in-Chief's letter, read the April 25 article, Letter from the editor: Success through inspiration.