Farewell and Thank You!


Lauren Stallworth, Editor

For the past three years, I have been an editor for The Howler. I started out as an assistant editor and became the Editor-in-Chief at the beginning of my second year. From the moment I started my first day of journalism, I knew that my life was going to change. I walked in as a quiet, insecure, and uncertain kid who had just been through the worst years of her life. I am leaving a confident, happy, and fulfilled woman. I am who I am today because of the newspaper.

The Howler gave me so many chances and opportunities that I would have never imagined possible for myself. Not only did I get to practice my passion for writing and perfect it – but I have been given the chance to share and cultivate my passion with others. It is a huge honor to me that I was given the important task of running such a crucial outlet for students during my high school career.

Writing has the ability to heal the soul, and when needed, call it to attention. And sometimes, as reporters, we must point out the flaws in our world and society in order to make a better tomorrow. This ability is not something I have ever taken lightly, because I know the impact writing has made in my life. It has healed me, and because of this department, I have gotten the chance to share my thoughts and perspectives with our school and ultimately, the world.

There have been articles that came from a passion or hobby. There are articles that I wrote out of routine or necessity to current events. There are articles I wrote when a thought or creative streak coursed through me. But there have also been articles that I have written with tears streaking down my face. There are articles that I wrote with a heavy, or angry, heart. There are articles that I was unsure or even scared about publishing.

Yet through them all, I have never once regretted anything I have written or done for the paper. In my three years, I have had a variety of responses that reaffirmed not only my purpose in writing but my purpose as a person. From something as simple as spotlighting a school event to sharing my struggles with mental illness, I have been thanked so many times for being the reporter I am. It is not the compliments that changed me – it is the fact that my writing, meant something to someone. That I was making an impact, and a difference. And I would have never had that without this beautiful program and paper. So to The Howler, thank you for giving me a place in this world, and a purpose. Thank you for being the catalyst to my fulfillment.
To my reporters; as articulate as I may be, there are no words to describe the emotions I experience when I look around the room at you all. I am so proud of each and every one of you, and like a parent when their child achieves something amazing, I cannot believe how far you’ve come. How far you’ve grown both in personality and skill, and how much you’ve changed.

I can only hope that when you look back on your experience in the program, you will come to realize how much I care about you all. And for all the times I pushed you, was stern or persistent, I hope that you reflect on it with a smile and a laugh – but also with a new skill set, confidence, or discipline. Every discussion, critique, and conversation we ever had was to make you a better writer and journalist, but more than that, a better person. If I helped or meant even just a fraction of as much to you as you all mean to me, then my goal has been fulfilled.

My job may have been to lead you and ultimately, teach you, but believe me when I say that you were the ones who changed me. During my time as an editor, I had the opportunity of watching you all interact and grow into the people you truly are or are meant to be. I saw kids who hated writing at the beginning of the year become one of my best reporters by the end. I watched as, although from all different social groups and walks of life, some of the silliest, most wonderful groups of friends were born despite their differences. I saw perseverance and determination in their rawest forms. I watched many of you overcome barriers and struggles that I could have never even imagined going through. And perhaps my favorite of all, I watched as our classroom became a place of refuge, and a community; a place where we all knew we belonged. The laughter we shared, the difficult topics and situations we tackled. We have grown together, as one, and become a family – and I believe that of all four years of my high school career, that may be one of my very favorite accomplishments. So please, do not ever diminish or minimize the role each and every one of you has played in my life. You all are forever a piece of me. A wrinkle in the fabric of my life, the experiences I had and lessons I learned from my time as Editor-in-chief of the Howler made me who I am today, thanks to you.

And lastly to Miss Passardi, one of my greatest leading examples, mentor, and friend; thank you. Thank you for believing in me every step of the way, and ultimately for giving me this position that I absolutely love. I will never forget all the time and laughter we’ve enjoyed together, and I am forever so grateful for all the guidance you have given me. No matter what, you were always there – and that is something that my gratefulness for will never diminish. You are an exceptional teacher, and I have always admired how much you value the connections you have with your students – we need more teachers like you. The things that you do for your program and your journalists do not go unnoticed, so even in the sometimes chaotic world that is journalism, never forget that you are changing lives every day. I sure know that you changed mine, and I will forever love you Passardi.

This newspaper is my baby, and I am so very grateful to it, as well as the people that are a part of it. As I depart, I can only hope that I have left my mark on this program. To those that proceed me, I wish you all the happiness and success in the world. Yet I leave with only two requests; take care and protect this gift that you have, and more importantly, enjoy every single moment of it.

So to my passion, my greatest moments of high school, my joy, and ultimately the family I helped build and love – farewell, and thank you for everything.