Senior editor reflects on time with the Southerner

As my time at Grady comes to an end, I have reflected on what I have done and what I have been a part of. Surprisingly, the Southerner takes up a large piece of my high school memories, and I have taken out a lot more than I thought I would when I joined, just thinking it was a smart pathway to join that might look good on a resume. This newspaper became much more than a resume filler, and I am very appreciative of all the people and experiences that went into creating every issue. Since this is my last issue working on the paper, I thought I would write a short letter on why I have enjoyed the paper so much and how upcoming classes should give the Southerner a chance, as I sure am glad I did. 

As people yell across the room and run from computer to computer to check last-minute details of each page’s design, our one small journalism classroom fills up with more than enough people to create a fire hazard. This is what we call a “late night.” Creatively named, it describes the evenings when the high school’s newspaper staff stays late after school as we bring the final draft together. This specific “late night” is a cause for more yelling and running than usual because it is the last night before we will send the paper off for publishing. For hours, the school has been completely empty except for one loud, packed, and exciting room.

Before joining its staff, I did not recognize how spectacular my high school’s newspaper actually was. Now as a member and editor, the newspaper is no longer something that I take for granted. The long process of its construction is what is most impressive about it. It starts when we all are assigned to write about an issue that is significant in our community. Learning about these stories, whether through researching them, taking pictures, conducting interviews or editing other students’ work, has been one reason why being a part of the newspaper staff has been valuable to me. The staff must work together quickly to compile the stories on their pages before a publication deadline.

Because there is a set hierarchical structure for the group, working together to help one another improve each other’s stories sometimes becomes a difficult process, as editors have to critique their own friends’ stories. Eventually, it always becomes an opportunity to grow as a group. On this certain, last late night, with the added pressure of the approaching deadline, I have to work with other staff members, trying to edit their stories in a respectful manner, to prepare the articles for the news section. Although the process can be quite hectic, the staff has become closer with each issue we publish. When a peer is struggling with his or her page’s design or getting a picture for a story, the whole staff pitches in to help. Once our team comes together to bring our best work forward, the late night that seems to have lasted for an eternity becomes a night that we all are proud of.

As my and all the other seniors’ last late night arrives, all the stress and hard deadlines come back to memory with a fond appreciation. I am grateful to my freshman self for choosing the communications pathway and sticking with this newspaper because after each issue, each long process, I was surprised and proud that a small bunch of high school students created a newspaper of principle and integrity to hold onto in our life beyond Grady.

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