Right as we were in the middle of selecting Verde Magazine’s newest leadership team and putting together what was supposed to be the last issue we would work on as editors-in-chief before we passed the torch over to the next generation, everything was put on hold. A pandemic took over the world, school ended abruptly and our time in MAC 105 came to a screeching halt. We suddenly canceled the next print edition, and had to figure out how to organize a fragmented staff over Zoom and publish breaking news without in person instruction, while continuing to uphold Verde’s journalistic integrity in our culminating weeks as editors.
A few months later, we are all safe at home, finishing up school work, and we seniors are looking forward to the (small and socially distanced) graduation celebrations ahead. Though we missed our chance to say goodbye in the form of an editor letter in March, we still wanted to give this publication a proper sendoff. Producing the past four issues of Verde has been the crowning achievement of our time in high school; more than being bonded over production dinners, we’ve learned how to keep moving forward even when we don’t have the answers — something we’re grateful for now more than ever.
A year ago, we suddenly became editors. While we expected the transition to be daunting, we were unprepared for the rapid shift in perspective and approach that comes with going from students to quasi-teachers in a matter of days. With 26 new staffers and only 11 returning members, we were truly in for the most thrilling, stressful and unpredictable journey. It was a memorable year, to say the least.
We’ve learned how to keep moving forward even when we don’t have the answers.
Though this job on paper had clear cut responsibilities — leading class, managing logistics, exporting the final print pages and, of course, editing stories — the novel situations we encountered throughout the year required more creative and much less straightforward approaches. And the truth is, we weren’t always sure how to handle these challenges.
In November, coverage of an exciting breaking news story became a kerfuffle with campus supervisors. Unsure of the extent of our own press protections and confronted with a situation challenging these rights, we educated ourselves through calls with the Student Press Law Center and careful readings of state press law. What we thought would end as just another editorial exploded into publicity that gave other student journalists the opportunity to learn from our experiences.
Similarly, a comment questioning the veracity of a news story transformed into a chance for us to push our frontiers. Verde’s first fact-checking story on the Salvation Army’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community furthered our confidence behind our work.
Each step was initially unsteady and racked with nerves, and doubt established itself as a constant. But our ability to keep moving forward proved that we could find a way and gave us the confidence that we would be capable of doing so again. We leaned heavily on these experiences as we adapted pandemic news coverage, robust leadership selection processes, and this final issue (although full credit for this goes to our successors) to online platforms and remote work. Beyond Verde, our takeaways also guided our personal reactions to the coronavirus’s impact on our home and school lives, and provided strength for us to — you guessed it — keep pushing forward.
We couldn’t be prouder of the way Verde has handled each and every challenge thrown its way. Watching the magazine’s 100th issue come to life this year was an honor in itself, and witnessing our staff grow — both cohesively bonded through late nights in the lab as well as individually improved in their journalistic skills — is something we will appreciate for years to come.
There are a million lessons, practical and conceptual, that we’ve learned from our time on staff, from the how-to’s of student leadership to the importance of empathetic community connections. At the same time, we find ourselves reminiscing about the small things. Ringing the turtle-shaped bell at the start of every class and our unassigned assigned seating chart — even sitting on the cushioned ottomans in our adviser’s freezing cold office — made Verde one of the most comforting and unforgettable parts of our daily routines.
This publication has the capability to bring people together like no other high school class can. Ultimately, what we’ll miss most is having 36 lovable misfits in the same room, all of whom we’ve been able to create relationships with in the most unexpected, life-changing ways.
What we’ll miss most is having 36 lovable misfits in the same room.
To our 2019-2020 staff: Thank you for sitting shotgun with us on this extraordinary, wild ride. We’re incredibly grateful to have gotten to know each and every one of you as you came to embrace your roles as true journalists. Cheers to all the hard work you’ve accomplished — hopefully we can celebrate in person with Trader Joe’s yogurt cups soon.
To the staff taking the baton: We’re waiting avidly for the ambitious stories you’ll tell. And we’re equally envious and excited for the new frontiers you’ll have a chance to explore, and the wisdom you’ll gain along the way — just remember to share your lessons generously.
To the future of Verde: Keep pushing boundaries. Advocate for the community, but don’t forget to advocate for yourselves too. Regardless of the opposition you might receive, stand up for the challenging stories worth telling.