For the first time in my life I submitted a draft that was too short.
I’ve written almost 20 articles for The Pirates’ Hook since the spring of my sophomore year, and yet, every time I submitted a draft, Mr. Christopher always told me it was too long.
No matter how much experience I got, my editing process has always been agonizing. Precious sections, paragraphs, and sentences I carefully constructed fell to the wayside each time as I edited down my stories. I always had too much to say.
And yet, when our column drafts were due on May 10, I found myself at a loss.
The truth is, I never felt like I truly ‘arrived’ at Riverside. Yes, I’ve been here for four years and I’m about to graduate, but the school changed so much every year that I never found my footing.
But amid the constant change, I certainly found my place here.
I only joined The Hook staff as a junior, and it’s been by far my most meaningful experience at Riverside. As my school has changed, I had to figure out why and write about it. I learned a little more about my ever-changing community with every interview I did. With every conversation I had, whether it went to print or not.
My drafts never got shorter, despite my journalistic skills growing every week. But I’m proud of all my colossal first drafts that made it to final stories. Through those stories I got to ask Coach K a question in his final pre-season press conference, call the former mayor in his last month in office, report for months on the engineering program’s diversity, interview a former Olympian on Riverside’s staff, and write about various sports topics that interested me, finding my voice along the way.
Many more moments stand out for stories that never escaped their early phases: talking to a teacher who narrowly escaped the beginning of the war in Ukraine with his 3-day old daughter, interviewing a veteran teacher about the US pulling out of Afghanistan, and calling the former RPC coordinator while he drove his truck into retirement.
As I took a leadership role and shifted from my own reporting to helping others and finding my voice with a column, my journalist skills only grew. It pushed me to change and provide the support my classmates needed, and watching our team produce papers, each one better than the last, is just as satisfying as publishing my own work.
Maybe this column isn’t too short after all. The more I think about my time with The Hook, the harder it gets to just pick one Riverside to reflect on when the school has been so different throughout my time here.
While I never quite found my footing, I did learn more about my community, with every teacher and fellow student I talked to, no matter how much it was changing around me.
I still write way too much on the first go around, but I can certainly say my four years passing through this rich, complex community were well spent. I learned to embrace change, and I’d like to think I gave something back, too.