By: Bradley Shanker
As senior year comes to a close I feel as though it is the right time to take a step back and reflect on my experiences with the Thunderbird. I would like to keep this “short and sweet” because I feel as though a lot of the things that I learned from working on the Thunderbird are intrinsic and wouldn’t affect a general audience, but I will share a few pieces of knowledge. So, I joined the Thunderbird in ninth grade because my older sister, Emily, was a contributing member at the time. She convinced me to come to a few meetings, and from then on, my passion for writing took off. In that first year as a staff writer, I wrote about five or so articles, and I would say that three of them didn’t even make it to print. But, I had an eagerness to improve my writing, so I didn’t let these shortcomings discourage me. Instead, I worked hard to improve my language usage and layout structure and the work that I put in definitely showed. In tenth grade, I was still a staff writer; however, I took on a larger role within the paper. I edited more articles and even attempted to learn a bit about layout from Lauren Peller, who at that time was the Editor-in-Chief. This enthusiasm helped boost me to the role of Junior Managing Editor where I was able to oversee the production of the paper, a side which most people don’t know much about. As a rising senior, I was chosen to be the co-Editor-in-Chief alongside Emily Disman. I felt honored to take on this role and couldn’t wait to help the Thunderbird soar to new heights.
After serving this past year as co-Editor-in-Chief I have learned a few things for which I am thankful. First, I learned that working with and managing your peers will never be an easy task. Not everyone will always like you, and you need to be content with that. If people are not putting in the amount of effort they should be, don’t be afraid to take a stand and let them know; however, do it in a respectful manner. Second, I learned that you must not take all the credit. As cliche as it sounds, “there is no I in TEAM,” and the Thunderbird is exactly that: a team of like-minded, passionate individuals who enjoy providing quality content. Taking all the credit for a team effort is selfish and only moves you back two steps instead of moving forward one. Lastly, I learned that you should always be eccentric and let your freak flag fly because the things that make us weird are the things that make us remarkable. During meetings, I liked to keep the vibe relaxed and fun. Whether we were discussing article ideas or shouting out current “hot topics,” everyone was able to be themselves in those after school meetings. I hope that current members and all future members know that they can come to meetings and have their voices heard and not be judged.
Serving as co-Editor-in-Chief has been an amazing experience, but all of the amazing work produced wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of the editorial board and staff writers. So to them, I say thank you. To our advisors, Mrs. Dalton and Mrs. Davis, thank you for helping to keep us on task and for providing guidance at a moments notice. Thank you both for being warm and calming presences in times of stress. To you both, I say thank you. To Dr. Woodberry and Dr. Strong, thank you for being approachable at all times and for providing the paper with positive feedback. I am grateful that the Thunderbird will be in efficient hands next year. I am looking forward to passing the torch over to next year’s Editor-in-Chief, Dylan Kaufman, whose direction, poise, leadership, and flawless writing will help build upon what we have already created here as a group. To the rest of the editorial board and staff writers, I wish you the best of luck next year, whether you are moving on to college or finishing out your last few years of high school. May you remain dedicated and always give your full effort to the task at hand. If there is one piece of advice I could give you all it would be that “the truth is more important now than ever” (New York Times).
I would also like to give a large thank you to all of the teachers and administrators who have encouraged me. Without your daily positive reinforcement, none of this would be possible. Personally, I would like to recognize one teacher who had a large impact on my high school career. Mr. Zarzicki. Mr. Zarzicki, thank you for bringing an unmatched enthusiasm to the classroom everyday. Your obsession with the English language has rubbed off on me, and I now stylistically analyze every piece of literature that passes through my hands. You taught me that language can have great power when used the correct way. Thank you for creating a curriculum that is based around your students, which helps keep them engaged. Thank you for teaching me to think critically and to always persevere no matter what may be bringing me down. The past two years in your classroom have truly been incredible. So, to you I say thank you.
It is crazy just how fast these last four years have flown by. I guess the saying, as cliché as it sounds, is true: “time flies when you’re having fun”! As high school comes to an end, it is bittersweet, but I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me. As this door is closing, another one is just starting to open, and I must now begin my confident march into the unknown.