Maegan’s Last Column: Farewell to The Elm Readers and Writers

Maegan Clearwood

I thought I was done with journalism when I graduated high school. Being editor of our newspaper had sucked my senior year dry; I was looking forward to four peaceful years of drama productions and club meetings and creative writing workshops – and then The Elm reeled me in as a copy editor the winter of my freshman year. There was no turning back.

Those were dark times for The Elm. This was before the Pub House’s Ikea makeover, so the walls were bare and unpainted and there weren’t even enough chairs for the staff on layout nights; I had to sit on the floor doing copy edits until 4 a.m. every Wednesday. We were trying to overcome something of a poor rep (just look at an Elm pre-2009 and you’ll understand what I mean) without the help of a faculty advisor, which meant everything – layout, editing, quality of writing – needed to improve. It was a rough year, but we were determined to prove ourselves. The Elm was a family – albeit small, scrappy, and somewhat crazy – and I knew I wanted to be a part of it through my senior year.

We’ve been growing ever since. Our layout has become brighter and cleaner every semester. We’ve focused more on staff training; by extension, our writers are producing more professional, polished work every week. The Pub House finally has a microwave and a sign outside announcing it exists. We went to our first Associated Collegiate Press conference last winter and stacked up surprisingly well against hundreds of other student newspapers. This year, writers and photographers have started attending staff meetings, and our Elm family has grown even more.

That’s not to say there haven’t been hiccups along the way. We’ve had our share of typos and mistakes. Even this year, there are decisions I wish I’d made differently, articles we missed and edits I should have marked. But looking back at how far we’ve come, I couldn’t be more proud of everyone. I’d like to specifically acknowledge the following for making my senior year an absolute delight:

Melissa: The Elm isn’t the only thing that’s grown because of all your help. You’ve pushed me out of my comfort zone, challenged and critiqued me, practically driven me to tears – and I am so much stronger and braver for it. Thank you for your patience and understanding. I couldn’t have asked for a greater advisor.

Trish and the staff at the Kent News: Thank you for welcoming me into your own newspaper family. You reminded me that even when all odds are against you, journalistic integrity comes first. I learned so many lessons this summer, and your support has been an enormous help this year.

Lindsay, Emily, Aubrey, Tim, Leland, Gary: It’s been an honor working with you for so long. We’ve had our ups and downs these past four years, but I’m glad I could share those laughs and tears with you. You’ve all made The Elm the beautiful publication it is now, and I can’t wait to see where you use your talents after graduation.

Katie: You’ve been there every step of the way, from my crazed summer planning to late-night mental breakdowns. I can’t thank you enough for all your patience. It’s been a delight watching you and your section grow, and I can’t wait to see where your dedication takes news next year.

Kay: I can’t believe that three years ago, you were a fledgling news writer, learning the basics of AP Style and interviews. It’s been such an honor watching you grow as a writer and come into your own as an editor. The Elm is going to benefit so much from your creativity and passion next year; I know you’ll do a beautiful job, and I’m proud to leave the paper in your hands.

All of our staff writers and photographers: It’s been a delight seeing how your work improves from week to week. I thoroughly enjoy reading The Elm during copy edits Wednesday nights, and it’s because of your creativity and talent. Trust me, as soon as I have $50 to spare as a starving college graduate, I’m subscribing to The Elm to see your work improve even more.

Our readers: Thank you for believing in us. Working for a tiny student newspaper can be thankless work, but you make it worthwhile. Please, keep reading next year: Next year’s staff is going to do an amazing job.

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