Where my peers became my teachers

Where my peers became my teachers

(Left to right) Chronicle Digital Managing Editor Lucas Gelfond '19, Editor-in-Chief Sophie Haber '19, Presentations Managing Editor Kendall Dees '19 and Print Managing Editor Alex Goldstein '19 sit outside of Weiler Hall on their favorite steps, where they spent hours coming up with article pitches and page concepts. Illustration by Samantha Ko

Alex hung up on me, so I called Lucas. Lucas hung up on me, so I called Kendall.

“Just relax,” she said. “There’s nothing to worry about. Go to sleep.”

“I’m not worried,” I said.

It was Saturday afternoon of layout weekend. Our deadline was 8:30 p.m., but I wasn’t at my computer in the center of the newsroom, nor checking on Sports or helping A&E. I was home.

I spiked a fever at my desk in Weiler Hall earlier that day, and had to leave before I finished reading and re-reading articles, and checking picas, for our February issue. I knew the right thing to do was to leave, but still, I desperately wanted to help. So, I called again and again, offering to read pages remotely. No one took me up on it, and I knew I probably wouldn’t have been helpful at that time anyway.

My phone went silent again. I could no longer hear the frantic chatter of the news juniors asking if anyone had tracked down that photo for A6. My gaunt face stared back at me.

“Kendall Dees. Call ended.”

She hung up too.

Until that moment, I never understood what made me care so much about the Chronicle.

Even before I had the title of Editor-in-Chief, I felt a deep sense of responsibility to the paper. With that came committing to write whenever there was news that needed to be covered, even if I had a test the next day, or was tired or would have rather spent my time doing something else. It meant writing articles for the Chronicle exactly one hundred times so far in my three-year career on the paper. But, it also meant helping the other staff members to do the same.

What I had told Kendall was true. I wasn’t worried.

My job as an editor is to clear obstacles so that my peers on the paper can work, write and succeed. At least, that is what is what I learned about the job by watching Sammi, Jesse, Josie, Danielle and Jenny.

They taught me that to be a leader means trusting those that you lead.  

That very lesson, illuminated to me by the other Editors-in-Chief that I worked with, exemplifies exactly why I care about this paper — the Chronicle is where my peers became my teachers.

As much as I wanted to be at layout that Saturday afternoon, I didn’t need to be. The three rooms on the periphery of campus capped in a green awning known to many as Weiler, and to us as just “chron,” were filled with juniors, seniors and sophomores who each, at some point, had taught me about how to best do my job.

I realized that I wanted to be there because I felt like I owed it to the people in those rooms and the people who had been in those rooms before.

I wanted to be there because two years ago, Layla taught me never to be afraid to report what is true, and because last year, Emory taught us how easily a smile can lift up a tense room.

I wanted to be there because Jackie and Ben taught me that you can command respect without taking yourself too seriously. Jenny, Sofia, Kaitlin, Ryan and Saba taught me the value of teamwork. Vishan, Alison and Lexi taught me to pay attention to details. Kaelyn taught me to make measured, composed decisions, Sam taught me to approach my work with patience and commitment and Cam taught me to take initiative and take risks.

Despite what the first sentence of this piece may imply, Alex, Lucas and Kendall taught me how special it is to work with friends who I know will always pick up to the phone, always support me, always call me out when I’m wrong and always help me lead me to what is right.

As we worked together on publications since middle school, Alex showed the power of compassion and confidence. Lucas, whose eyes are probably rolling as he reads this article in which I blatantly disregard AP style and refer to people by their first names, showed me the importance of taking pride in my work. And, Kendall showed me how selflessly a person can give those around her more than she takes. They taught me about empathy and leadership and ambition and work-ethic.

It is these lessons from my peers, those I named and those I wish I named, that motivated me to write one hundred articles and to push the limits of the paper every layout weekend.

Because of the impressive prudence of the staff, my experience on the Chronicle fostered more personal growth than anything else I’ve been a part of.

In three years, I’ve learned so much more than how to responsibly lay out A1 or properly cite a quote.

When we break a big story, the paper comes to life with a universal sense of commitment and community. In those moments, it is clear that everyone on staff has something to learn and something to teach.

We learn, through each other, about strength and integrity.

Those lessons make Weiler into a microcosm of the “real world,” complete with competition, responsibility and friendships. They make me want to be there, under the green awning, to contribute to the student-driven education that causes the Chronicle to be so unique.

At the Chronicle, my peers really have become my teachers — inspiring, fun, wise teachers. I know now that I’m driven to work hard on the paper for them.

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