Journalism 2020 Farewell

Words: Delanie Tucker 

When I started thinking of the possibility that I could become the Editor-In-Chief of the Centennial High School Wingspan, this is not quite how I imagined my take-over would go. When I had my take-over as Managing Editor at the end of my sophomore year, I learned everything I could about what that issue entails, because I wanted to make sure that it could be perfect the next year. While I wasn’t certain at the time that I would become Editor-In-Chief, I was hopeful and wanted to be prepared.

Now, a year after my take-over as Managing Editor, I earned the title of EIC of the Wingspan, but I didn’t get my perfect Takeover Issue. Furthermore, I didn’t get a final 2019-20 publication at all because of COVID-19. The situation I was put in was not something I could have prepared myself for, but it surely made my first months in my new position interesting.

We knew as soon as we wrapped up our Senior Issue and the seniors graduated that a Takeover Issue would not be possible, due to problems accessing the necessary technology and a simple lack of manpower. Because we didn’t get the traditional ending to our school year, all efforts were put towards making everything we published online top quality. The twelve of us, yes only twelve, really came together and knew that it would take a little more dedication to keep the flow of articles as consistent as it was with a full team. I’m happy to say that they did not disappoint.

Every single member of the team really stepped up in the absence of the seniors and took on responsibilities that they hadn’t been prepared for. Whether it be writing an article in half the time they would normally have to, editing someone else’s piece, or being on stand-by at all times to make sure that the articles can be published on our website, everyone was up for the challenge. 

In the past three years that I’ve been a member of this team, we’ve never been short on staff. That being said, I don’t think there could’ve been a better team, no matter the numbers, to make my take-over as smooth as it was. I’d like to say it was my amazing leadership skills that made what we did possible, but that’d be a lie. It was the unwavering dedication that every single member of this team had until the very last day that we could publish.

On the first day of my freshman year, and every year after that, our beloved teacher Rus Vanwestervelt (VW) talked about the names on the walls. Signatures of former members of the Wingspan. As a freshman, I didn’t think much of it. They weren’t people that I knew, so they weren’t incredibly interesting to me. As I heard his speech again and again, and as I moved up the ranks of the Wingspan, I started to understand. The legacy we leave behind is important, and it’s something that you want to be remembered for. Not everyone is going to understand why we still write, because some think that journalism is old fashioned, but these are stories that have to be told. It’s our goal to write that story that will get recognition in other counties, or even other states. We want to write the story that people remember, because that’s the legacy. More than that, we want to expand on what those before us did. They built this publication, and it’s only fair that we try our hardest to continue what they worked so hard on. It’s their legacy that pushes us to be our best, and I hope that the legacy of this team and the uncertain times that we overcame will push the next class, and every class after them, to do their best. And I hope their best is even better than ours.

The ending of this year is bittersweet. It’s always nice when another year of school comes to a close. This year, though, the Wingspan is saying goodbye to VW. He has been the biggest supporter of everything that the members of the Wingspan do, and he’s always let us have free reign. He’s in charge, but so are we. That’s the best part about his style of running the publication, because he trusts us whole-heartedly to get everything done right, but he’s still there when we need help. It’s sad to see him go, because he has believed in me since my very first day, but I’m confident that we’ll honor his legacy, and when his name goes on that wall, because I’m going to make him sign it, people will know what he did for this publication. 

Regardless of all the amazing things VW has done, I’m excited to see what next year’s teacher, Lauren Mancini, will add to the team. I’ve met with her once over a Google Meet call, and if VW has to go, I’m glad it’s her taking his place.

Next year is still a mystery. There’s no way to know right now if we’ll be in a real classroom or not, but there’s one thing I do know. This team won’t slow down. When school starts back up, the Wingspan will continue to write and to publish, even if there’s only twelve of us. If we have newcomers, then I’ll tell them the stories of the names on the walls and we’ll go from there.


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