My chronic obsession

by Allegra Tepper

It wouldn’t be unheard of to say my home address is 3700 Coldwater Canyon, Weiler Hall. Sure, it’s not where I hit the hay, store my wardrobe or eat my midnight snack (although these all happen from time to time). I’ve just arrived “home” from the final Chronicle layout weekend of 24 total. That’s 24 weekends of barely-met deadlines; of raunchy jokes at 10 a.m.; of fights to the death over the Oxford comma, and nights when we ask ourselves if we could just spend the night sleeping in Weiler Hall.

I started thinking about this column years ago. I wanted it to be the one that makes you cry; instead, it’s the one that makes me cry, because I’ve realized that this is, in fact, the last thing I will write for this newspaper.

The Chronicle has, without a doubt, defined my high school experience. A few days ago, I was asked in an interview if I felt like my peers view me as “The Newspaper Girl,” and perhaps that is the case for a handful of them. What occurred to me though, was that regardless of what my peers think, I see myself as that girl. I’ve experienced the better part of Harvard-Westlake through the viewfinder of my camera and the ink I put to paper. Of course I could regret not storming the field when the football team reigned victorious at Homecoming, instead falling off the wet players’ bench trying to snap the action. I could fuss over those kickbacks I missed to stay at home and bust out one of my all too frequent last minute columns. I could sit here contemplating whether the time I spent in Weiler for those glorious Monday night crunches really did make the critical difference in my GPA. But you know what? I wouldn’t want it any other way. Successfully capturing the moment gives me a natural high that I’ve failed to find anywhere else.

Some six months ago, I sat in a hotel ballroom 3,000 miles away at the National Scholastic Press Association convention, which is essentially journalism junkie’s paradise. I clasped hands with my fellow staff members, eagerly anticipating the announcement of the Pacemaker winners, the high school journalism equivalent of the Pulitzer. Our palms grew sweaty with anxiety that brewed inside us, our pulses racing without any intention of quitting until we heard those comforting words. And then they came. We’d won! The waterworks took me by complete and utter surprise; I’d never cried tears of joy before, and suddenly I felt like a first time grandmother. I couldn’t control my shaking hands when they passed the plaque to me for a photo op. I thought, how can a high school publication be the thing that reduces me into a blubbering baby? But I let the joy wash over me because I’d never felt anything like it before.

Get ready because here comes the cliché: The Chronicle staff is a family. I grew up with this family, and they’re the most outrageous, gregarious, eccentric group I’ve ever been so lucky to be a part of. We bicker, we listen, we cry, we laugh, we throw punches and high fives, and we eat. A lot.

Saying goodbye to family is never easy. It’s probable that four weeks from today, I’ll be hit with a sense of emptiness when I have no obligations to spend those unfathomable hours in those stuffy rooms, sweating out the deadlines and staring at monitors until my eyes cross with the people I hold so dear. But I’m not going to cry tears of sadness that it’s over. I’m going to let those powerful waterworks of joy wash over me, ecstatic that I had these fantastic four years with this remarkably outlandish family, and I can only hope that the next publication will be half the ride this was.