Editor-in-Chief exits high school drama series after four seasons

Jackson Parks

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Editor-in-chief Jackson Parks and print editor Ava Musgraves in a compilation of Snapchat selfies. Many pictures were taken during their self-proclaimed “flop era.” Collage by Ava Musgraves

No, this isn’t another review no one asked for, or a column for my classmates to post and roll their eyes about (people might, I’m used to it). It’s my farewell to Webster and the Echo: something I’ve been crafting up in my head for about a year now.

If this were a TV show, this would be the part right before I leave town and head for Chicago for my big city college story arc (my spin-off, if you will). This send-off piece would be some sort of dramatic monologue voiceover that plays over a montage of my best and worst high school memories, but sadly the Echo doesn’t have the budget for that, so here’s this.
It’s time for me to skip town, but I can’t leave just yet without some “goodbyes” and a few words.

As I’m writing this and saying, “Goodbye” to my small town and high school experience, a lot comes to mind. High school wasn’t amazing for me, honestly. Not to be some guilt-tripping martyr or anything, but being one of the few openly gay men at school was not amazing (or ideal). It isn’t this amazing and overly accepting, post- “Love, Simon” world that a lot of people might think it is. It was more anxiety-ridden and filled with lots of visits to my assistant principal and counselor’s office. I’m an overly dramatic person for sure, but even as I try to romanticize my high school experience for this column, it still wasn’t great. I never really felt supported by the school and administration in times when I really should’ve. I hope that changes for students like me in the future.

I could sit here and angrily type at my keyboard the things I hated about my high school experience — like being outed and asked, ‘Are you gay?’ as a freshman all the time, or any of the drama and private story posts that people created out of articles I wrote. There’s more I could add, but I’ll stick to the more sentimental, nostalgic side of things. There still is a lot I’ll miss about high school and the simplicity of it. I’ll miss everything about my junior year: the half-day schedules, getting to school 45 minutes early to park on Lockwood, the Starbucks drink that I never order anymore. I’ll miss the epic highs and lows of high school football. I’ll miss skipping school without any consequences, because “there was a sub.” I’ll miss playing the villain. The thing I think I’ll miss the most about high school is the Echo though.

I joined journalism my sophomore year in hopes of fulfilling my “Riverdale”-inspired dreams of writing for my school newspaper. I never would’ve thought that by senior year I would’ve finessed my way into becoming editor-in-chief somehow. Joining the Echo, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into: trying to make a deadline by 8 a.m. on Google Docs on my phone in the school parking lot, or the controversies and dramas that can come with being somewhat of an outspoken writer. I love journalism and how it helped me find my own voice, honestly. I think my writing is almost an extension of myself and my personality. I owe a lot of ‘finding myself’ to the Echo.
Now, onto my obligatory goodbyes.

Of course, I’ll start with Donald Johnson. He did help me ‘find my voice’ after all. He also helped me realize I really am running the school paper, especially when it was time to make any sort of decision, and he’d say something like, “You tell me; you are the editor.” I’m so glad and proud to have had you as an advisor and mentor to help with all my InDesign, WordPress and stylebook questions. Your emphasis on the importance of truth, even when it’s not so pretty, through not just writing is something that I’ll always carry with me. Thank you for your constant support through the trials and tribulations of high school journalism this year. WGHS and the Echo are so, so lucky to have you.

To Marina Holcomb, thank you for being the best “school mom” I could ask for. Your constant support and understanding is really what got me through my senior year. Thanks for fueling my Lululemon addiction. Thanks for all the passes and the “no questions asked” policy that came with them. Thanks for the Gushers that were always there waiting for me in your desk drawer. Thanks for your amazing style, humor and personality. To anyone who has a free student assistant hour next school year: choose her. She is a godsent.

To Alison Bryar, thank you for being a great “trusted adult.” You could be the picture definition for one. I miss your student assistant hour and honestly just that whole time of my life so much. Thanks for listening to me rave, then rant about the boy I was dating at the time. Thanks for being such a great teacher, one who really understands the importance of student-teacher relationships. I miss decorating your calendar. Hopefully, you get a better classroom with windows soon.

Now, to all my friends…you know who you are. I don’t have the space (or energy) to list you all out, but thanks for being amazing private story viewers. To the Book Worms, keep reading. Can’t wait visit you all.

To the Echo staff, thank you and good luck! I’m so excited to see all the great things you accomplish. Lydia, you have my number if anyone tries to disrespect you. Ava, you’re a FLOP. Calum, stay 14 and innocent.

That’s it. That’s my sad attempt of a “high school experience” thrown onto a page, and pretty dramatically too. I’m excited for the future and whatever’s next. I’m excited to not be here.

Jackson Parks – Editor-in-Chief

This will be Jackson Parks’ first year on ECHO staff, but he made several contributions while taking journalism class his sophomore year.

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