Dear future Torchies (and future audiences of The Torch),
It is difficult to decide where to begin in writing this to the future of The Torch. Four years ago on one January day in eighth grade, I found out I was going to be part of the Torch staff, from none other than Samuel Winegar, who ran into our 9 a.m. science class, said “We got in!!!” and we then shared an awesome high five. Oh to be 13 again.
Following that high five, the excitement (and the nervousness) began to kick in. We were soon given our very own “How to avoid being Torch-ered” guides, which explained the ideas behind reporting, writing and our overall cycles from beginning to print. The last day of eighth grade I’ll never forget, going into Schweig’s portable, being a little bit scarred by the presentation of the infamous “Torch Awards,” and watching the seniors and Mr. Schweig get emotional as they passed on “The Torch” (yes, that is a tradition we do) and said their goodbyes. I sat there thinking, ‘How in the world am I going to fit into this?’ While the amazing guide we received certainly gave insight into the work aspect of Torch, there are a few lessons that I wish I had known beforehand.
Don’t volunteer to be the 1:01 girl on your first day. Ninth-grade me was quiet, shy and awkward. Okay, so I may still be those things, but even more so back then. In Torch, we have a tradition where someone must shout “IT’S ONE OH ONE” at the end of the class period. So of course, I tried out on the first day of class. And my voice cracked. Grant Golub told me to just sit back down. Meg van Deventer patted me on the back and gave me some of her lunch. It was a time.
Learn to share. Whether it’s embarrassing stories, personal issues or even some food (bless you Mira, for the last four years of delightful sandwiches. I really do not know what I am going to do without you next year), the Torchable is a place of sharing. When you spend a majority of your time together, during and after school hours, it’s hard to not get close. We are our own family. We laugh together, we yell together, we sing High School Musical and Beyoncé and Shakira together. Love openly and deeply. Having that safety zone has been the best part of high school.
Continue the tradition of Torch Girl Sleepovers. Always. A huge thank you to Daysi Gomez for introducing me to the beauty of Torch Girl sleepovers. There is nothing better than having a night with all the lady pals to watch terrible movies (seriously, stay away from the movie “Sleepover”), eat lots of ice cream, play Never Have I Ever and just get to know each other better.
Find your missing links before Press Night. (Samuel Winegar.)
Don’t be afraid of criticism. Sure, we all say “yes, I love criticism. It’s wonderful! I improve as a person!” before we’ve actually been criticized. But going through The Torch will really teach you how to not only accept criticism, but use it to your advantage. My stories in The Torch haven’t improved because of me — their amelioration has only been possible because of the advice, intense editing and even a little yelling (shout out to Alex Quintero, who terrified me freshman year) that I’ve had the opportunity to get from older students and even still today from my peers.
Always be grateful for your audience. Ultimately, Pine View peers, Pine View parents, Pine View teachers, even past alumni who still browse the website or see the paper upon visiting — our paper is for you. We are always looking for stories that will interest you, graphics that will capture your attention, things that will make you laugh or inspire new kinds of thinking.
A brief interlude here, future Torchies, as I address our audiences, both past and future.
One thing I was not prepared for was the amount of hate that we receive. I’m not talking about people who point out a few mistakes or who tell us what we can improve on (see the previous paragraph) – I am talking about direct, intense, disdain. After putting so many hours of work and effort into something, it is difficult to see someone mock it or throw it away. And it took me the longest time to really see the value in that. But to those who may scan through our paper with a red pen counting the number of mistakes we made, or to those who refer to us as “evil socialists” or to those who simply take our paper and rip it into pieces (yes, all of these have happened, and yes, we do know who you are), although you already might be telling others that this is simply “poorly written,” I just want to say one thing:
Thank you for keeping us on our toes. Thank you for reminding us that we are far from perfect, and that we always have things to improve and make better. Thank you for being an essential part of The Torch experience. You make us stronger. You make us appreciate the value of hard work. You make us better.
And to those who get excited about getting The Torch, to those who read any of our articles, to those of you who have gone out of your way to point out things you liked or that you think we could work on, to those of you who have shown your support after each issue: a simple thank you is not enough. Even a small amount of interest and sincerity can go much further than you think. Even if it is just to read one story about your friend, or to crack open the humor page and read the story with the funniest picture — we love seeing people enjoying what we have enjoyed creating. It’s the greatest feeling. We talk about seeing other people’s reactions to pages. We eavesdrop on any conversations that start with “Did you see in The Torch today…?”
We owe our existence and continuance to you, dear readers. You motivate us to keep working hard, and you make us what we are today.
There is no Torch Superstar. There is no “I” in Torch. There is no “I” in newspaper. There is an “I” in journalism, but that’s not helping my point here so let’s forget about that. The Torch, The Match and PVTorch.com are all a result of the combined efforts of our entire staff. It is simply not possible to get out three publications alone – and quite frankly the results would not be as good if done by one person. The Torch is very much a team, and is only successful when everyone does their best. The second you begin to think that you are the center of The Torch, or that you are better than anyone else on staff is the second you forget what being a part of The Torch is really about.
Don’t be afraid of strangers. Whether it’s with teachers, other students, alumni or whoever else you may have to talk to in order to get a story, don’t be afraid. Take the time to really learn about another person’s life and ask lots of questions. You might just be surprised at the answers.
Learn to dance. We have a lot of dance parties in the Torchable. Note here that I don’t say learn to dance well. Really any sort of awkward flailing of arms and general movement of the feet will do.
Get to know the people in your own grade on staff. These people will be able to relate more to you than anyone on staff. These are also the people you will get to spend the most amount of time with during your Torch career. From checking up on what the homework is to celebrating college acceptances and supporting each other in college rejections, the people in your grade will always be there with advice and their own experience. Never take that for granted. Madeline Bowman, Mira Chauhan, Samuel Winegar, Brenna Maginness and Jordan Glover: the last four years, and especially this year, would never have been possible without you. A thank you and an “I love you” will never cover how grateful I am to have you guys in my life.
Cherish every single moment. It feels like yesterday that I first stepped into the Torchable and embarrassed myself yelling “It’s One oh oOOoooOOfklsfsdlkfjs.” (Yes, it was that bad.) Once you begin your Torch career, make sure to take a few moments once in a while to take a look around and enjoy the view. It changes so often. I remember meeting the seniors my freshman year and being incredibly intimidated. One day you’re a tiny freshman, wondering how you’ll fit in to this new environment with all of these scary older kids, and the next thing you know you’re openly weeping and listening to “We’re All in This Together,” while writing the last thing you ever will for The Torch. Take lots of photos, steal other people’s phones and take lots of selfies, spend time with the people you’re working with and embrace every part of being on The Torch. What you put into being on The Torch is truly what you will get out of it. I mean it when I say I’ve put my heart into this paper and this staff. And I’ve gotten countless memories and a second family I love so much.
A final thank you, to The Torch and the Torch staff. Without you, I do not know who I would be — and quite frankly I’m a little scared of that thought. Thank you, for four incredible years (that really is a huge understatement.) I wish the future of Torch, and the future Torch staff members the best of luck. But with the people you’ll get to work with the next four years and the environment you’ll get to be in, I know you really won’t need it.
Flame on, burn bright, keep it hot, stay lit,
Marinna Okawa, Class of 2016
Editor-in-Chief/Torch Mom 2015-2016
Torch staff member 2012-2016