Our Farewell To Paw Print – Aislinn and Renee
May 16, 2019
“So this is how democracy dies… in thunderous applause.” -Padme Amidala
An era has come to an end, and the administration staff that has been present for years is graduating, and new champions will rise in their wake.
Well, this is it: the last article I will ever write for The Paw Print. It seems somewhat surreal to think I won’t be returning as the editor-in-chief next year, seeing as I’ve been here since the very beginning of my freshman year. As a class, Paw Print has endured several drastic changes, and it’s hardly recognizable as what it was three years ago, so I’ve decided to run through all the major events that I have had the pleasure of experiencing since the beginning of my career as editor-in-chief.
I first became editor my sophomore year, succeeding Cienna Hiersche, who graduated in 2016. During my freshman year, Paw Print was composed of five seniors, one sophomore, and myself; it was assumed that the sophomore (I won’t name names) would take over once Cienna graduated, but she quit the class halfway through the semester. As a result, I was now the only person in Paw Print who would be there the following year. I now had no choice but to become the next editor.
My first year as editor was absolutely hectic. Cienna taught me all she could in the few months we had left, but there was only so much that could be done, and I had absolutely no idea how to handle a staff and get them to turn in their articles on time. When my sophomore year rolled around, I tried as best as I could with an all-new staff, but almost everything was new for me as well. As wild as that year was, it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in Paw Print; the chaos of being truly in charge could be a headache at times, but it also served as a way for me to learn more about everyone in the class.
That year, there were only five students involved at any given time, so we all had to truly put our heads together and get out a 12-page paper at reasonable intervals. Paw Print consisted of four sophomores (myself, Renee Chaples, Alyssa Hein, and Karrin Rimbold) and one senior, Sam Kokoski. One of the aspects of this era that I look back most fondly upon was the so-called “Christmas armistice” between Sam and I. In the beginning, Sam tended to not want to listen to me (probably since he was older), and as a result we were often at each other’s throats. In order to lighten the mood in time for the Christmas season, we agreed to stop throwing insults until Christmas vacation. It would come to be known as the “Christmas armistice”, and it ended up lasting the entire year, which was something that Sam and I were both extremely proud of.
I often consider fall/winter of 2016 to be the best time period of my life so far, and feeling so at home in Paw Print for the first time was extremely comforting. Such a tight-knit class was grounds for dozens of inside jokes, and although I had been the odd one out the year before, I now found myself befriending everyone who decided to join Paw Print.
My second year as editor perhaps did not go as smoothly. For the first couple of months, Paw Print was actually in better shape than it had been the year before; we had gained twice the number of people as we were used to, but most of the new staff were learning fast. Having ten people in the class was a huge load off Renee’s and I’s shoulders, since we no longer were required to churn out eight or nine articles per paper. Not only that, but the new recruits were mostly people Renee and I were familiar with. We gained Nick Silva and Abby McCoy, both of whom still write for the paper and will be taking over next year. I found a friend in Kenny White, who, despite however he was feeling that day, never failed to provide comedic relief for the class.
Then, Paw Print would hit the most severe roadblock we had ever had to experience.
As some readers might know, Sarah Edwards was the advisor until January 2018. I would like to take this time to appreciate all that Mrs. Edwards did for Paw Print. She was more than the advisor for the class, she was like a second mother to me. She never allowed any of our egos to inflate too much, and never let a single article pass the editing process if she didn’t think it was the best it could be.
Now we had no advisor, and thus begins the month-long period of having no idea what on earth any of us were doing. We couldn’t function without an advisor, since we still were running a physical newspaper rather than an online one.
Then, Ms. Dow was assigned the advisor position. Since she was completely new to Paw Print, none of us had any idea of what to think of her, but we warmed up to her eventually. With Ms. Dow came a whole new era of the Paw Print: creating the website. When Mrs. Edwards was around, we had tossed around the idea of a website on occasion, but never made any efforts to actually go through with it. Dow was adamant that this was the best option, and most of Paw Print agreed. Not only would it save paper, but it would be a lot easier on us writers and editors, since we no longer had to worry about articles not fitting in a confined space. A few weeks later, Paw Print had officially transitioned from a classic newspaper to an electronic one.
To be honest, there are some days in which I miss the joy of opening up a package full of freshly-printed newspapers, and witnessing readers discuss each issue at lunch. Renee and I always weaseled our way out of C-Block to distribute papers, and that was a day I always looked forward to. Nevertheless, I know that a website is Paw Print’s best option for the future, and it will make a convenient archive for anyone who wishes to read articles from months before.
Over the summer, it would be revealed that Ms. Dow would not be returning for my senior year. Instead, Mr. Fleury would be the brand new advisor for Paw Print.
For the first time since I had joined in my freshman year, I would not have Paw Print the first semester of senior year. This is for reasons that were mostly personal, but also because I wanted to take an art class to improve my abilities, and all of them took place at the same time as Paw Print. I was confident in Renee, Nick, and Abby to run the show for a semester while I left, but I still do feel somewhat guilty for leaving them to deal with new writers and a new advisor. But hey, we survived, so there isn’t much I can complain about!
I want to dedicate a paragraph to the secretary and co-editor-in-chief of Paw Print, as well as one of my greatest friends, Renee Chaples. Renee has been with Paw Print only a year less than I have, and has stuck with the class since she joined, which is more than I can say for myself. I am convinced that Paw Print might not have survived if she was not there to help me out with leading the class in our times of hardship. I cannot put into words how much I appreciate having someone in the class who doesn’t make me feel like I’m the only one with any experience. I’m glad she wasn’t scared away during the disasters that were our sophomore and junior years, because Paw Print would not be the same without her.
Since I returned for second semester, I’ve gotten the sense that Paw Print is stabler than it’s been since my freshman year. Instead of going through the endless loop of writing, editing, formatting, and distributing articles, our new system now leaves us with time to breathe and think about what other new things we would like to try. This included the introduction of The Paw Cast, a three-to-five minute newsreel in which anyone who wanted to participate could run down the news of the recent weeks. This was a good start, but it was unanimously decided that three minutes was not enough time. Thus, our new podcast, The VOID, would launch. Although I never enjoyed having my face on camera and have never actually done an episode of The VOID myself, I can tell that it’s something the class enjoys and will likely stick around long after I’ve graduated.
It’s gotten to the point where Paw Print feels as if it’s an extension of myself. When I stated earlier that it had developed into a second home, I meant it. I’ve never felt more attached to a class, and I doubt I will again. If I ever needed a place to go hang out at the end of the year, I would go back up to the lab. If I ever needed to go make up tests for other classes, Paw Print was the class in which I could get out of to do so. If I ever had an idea for something new that could be done for the class, Paw Print was always willing to listen. Not being able to come to Paw Print will undoubtedly be difficult to adjust to. To Nick and Abby, regardless of how often we joke about it, I am confident that both of you will keep Paw Print the inviting environment it always has been.
Now, to finish off my final Paw Print article, here are some of my favorite quotes from the Paw Print Quote Book.
“Everything I say is quotable, you just don’t write it down.” —Sam
“I don’t understand why everyone hates comic sans. It looks like normal handwriting.” —Ms. Edwards
“I am five feet of fure pury.” —Renee
“You should try to have fun.” “I am literally incapable of having fun.” —Abby and Aislinn
“You want a fat meme to cheer you up?” —Kenny
“Mr. Fleury said it’s my turn on the brain cell.” —Abby
Hello! My name is Renee Chaples. I am the Curator of The VOID, which is our biweekly talk show, and I am sad to announce that this will be my last Paw Print article. While it only seems that yesterday I was a sophomore walking into the lab not knowing what to expect, in less than a month I will be making that big walk across the stage to accept my diploma. For now, I would like to spend this time to reminisce on my favorites, worst, and more memorial times in Paw Print.
Sophomore Year (2016-2017):
While the world seemed like it was going to end from the 2016 elections, 2016 turned out to be the best year of my life. After a rocky start to high school, I had returned to my normal GPA and perfect attendance record, which meant I finally got into honors classes; however, I was most excited to finally get into the Paw Print. I had waited nearly two years to join the newspaper staff and finally, the day had come. I was nervous at first since I did not make the cut my freshman year, so I had to prove I was a valuable asset to the staff. Turns out, Mrs. Edwards became my favorite teacher, Aislinn my best friend, and Paw Print my favorite class. We still used print newspaper at the time, and with a staff of only five people, we had to do approximately nine articles per paper. This was relatively stressful, especially since word count mattered. I remember scrambling around to find enough information to fill a 600-700 word article and then realizing I have too much to actually fit into the article. Mrs. Edwards was forgiving, however, and she understood that I was new to this style of writing and needed time to adjust. During this year I met Sam (Sammy) K., the man responsible for my backup senior quote. My original was going to be “If you can’t blow them away with your brains, baffled them with your bull crap” and I’ll forever be upset that I could not use that quote because the word “crap” was in it. Thankfully, ever since my first year, we’ve kept a Paw Print quote book in which my actual senior quote is located: “Oh, I’m Renee and I like Fall Out Boy and have ferret facts.” Thanks, Sam, for being my backup. During this year is when I met the milk drinking thief Abigail (Abby) McCoy who will be important later.
Junior Year (2017-2018):
Unfortunately, right after the best year of my life, I would then be hit by the train wreck that was my junior year. This year meant college preparations, prom, a job, driver’s ed, AP classes, all piled on top of cheerleading, baton twirling, track and field, and Paw Print. My article quality met a huge decline from how overwhelmed I was, which caused me to be more stressed than ever. Fortunately, while I was having my many moments the staff had effectively doubled in size, which meant last year’s 9 articles became 4 to 5 articles. We maintained half of last year’s staff and gained about four freshmen, a senior, a sophomore and five other juniors across the school year. Among these newcomers were Nick Silva and Abby McCoy, who will be my new partners in crime in future endeavors for the Paw Print and will soon be taking over. Although some came and went during the second semester, Aislinn and I were so relieved to begin to organize lessons and training for the new staff members, and for the most part, they seemed excited and could actually write (aside from a few slackers). Things for the Paw Print were looking up, but that would quickly come to end. Our first paper was pushed back by nearly two months from late articles, misprints, and human error, so what we thought was going to be an epiphany for the Paw Print turned out to be its demise. After recovering from the stress of the last paper, we started on the next—however, during this paper, I ended up getting pneumonia and was out for a week. This caused all my articles to be late, and all my AP classes took a hit from me missing a week of work. I was beyond stressed. Then we lost a bunch of members that were in the middle of working on the second paper from the first semester, and Aislinn and I were stuck picking up the slack. Then, while Aislinn was out sick, I discovered that Mrs. Edwards would not be returning to PHS for a while, if at all. A few months passed and the Paw Print was beginning to accept our new lives when we were introduced to Ms. Dow. While Ms. Dow was not awful and was a fairly cool lady who respected our humor, immediately the Paw Printers took a disliking to her. Although Ms. Dow was not well liked initially, she was responsible for making us go online—a far more practical media for us to use. For the sake of the site, since neither Aislinn nor I apparently knew how to use modern technology, we made Nick Silva our layout editor. She was also interested in starting up the Podcast that Aislinn and I were so excited about creating. However, after some time, Ms. Dow would be no more, and Paw Print would return to being teacher-less for the rest of the year. Leaving for summer break, all the faithful Paw Print staff members feared that Paw Print would meet its end.
Senior Year (2018-2019):
I remember checking my schedule for school during early August to see what my classes were. While I was excited to discover that Paw Print was still listed I was flabbergasted to see some ‘Michael Fleury’ as the adviser. Immediately I messaged Aislinn. Back and forth from that day to the first day of school, we conspired about who this Mr. Fleury character could be, and why he had replaced our mother. I expected to walk into the lab to be greeted with some grumpy old guy who would become a dictator and take over the Paw Print. These intrusive thoughts were somewhat lightened when I ran into Mr. Fuller. “Hey! Have you met the new guy yet?” he asked me. I responded that I had not. “Oh well you’ll like him, he’s a pretty cool dude,” Mr. Fuller assured me, and then continued on his merry way. This had given me some new thoughts. First and foremost, how have I gone half a school day and not run into this mythical being? Second, if Mr. Fuller thinks he’s cool, then he’s gotta be cool. Finally, the time had come, I walked into the lab and all I am greeted with is some tall student I had never seen before on a computer. “Uh hey, do you know where Paw Print is meeting?” I asked this mystery man. “Oh you’re in Paw Print, Hi I’m Mr. Fleury,” he responded. I was shaken to say the least. I believe I had walked past this man three times in the halls and just assumed him to be a student. It turns out the teacher that I thought to be an uptight old man was a 23-year-old former Elms College student. A few days into the school year and Aislinn decides to push my limits one more time. “Hey don’t hate me but I’m thinking about quitting Paw Print” would be her exact words. I was disgusted, appalled, how dare she leave me with a teacher who has no idea what he is doing, three staff members to train and then Nick and Abby which is a handful enough on its own? Now I was the editor-in-chief and I had no training in such a position. It was evident I had no clue what I was doing and I own that because ever since junior year I’ve had no clue what I’m doing. However, with Nick and Abby by my side, we continued forward. One idea that we managed to bring to life would be the Podcast Aislinn and I had talked so fondly about last year. We created the five-minute “Paw Cast” that usually focused on the local news and interviews. While many of the Palmer High faculty members were excited about this new endeavor, the Paw Print staff (particularly Nick, Abby and I) was not thrilled with that format. Eventually, we would make the decision to change the bland “Paw Cast” into The VOID. I would end up in charge of The VOID and its content. The VOID, which is generally triple the length of the “Paw Cast”, allows Nick, Abby, and I to discuss whatever topic we see fit. It is a far looser version of the Paw Cast, which means less stress and planning. When Aislinn returned, I then handed her back the rightful leadership position of the website but maintained my authority over The VOID (hence my title changing to Producer/Curator).
I believe Mr. Fleury and the rest of the loyal writers are more than ready to handle it without Aislinn and I. To this day I believe the online website is a more functional, reliable source for the students’ expression and despite the tragedies, lab 303 will always be my safe place at PHS. Going to college I will take with me my memories of ditching class to play cards in the air conditioner during a hot day or sitting with Abby for a full class period making a collage of all our favorite internet memes. So thank you, Paw Print, for the memories, I will hold them, dear.
To Nick, we leave you with the mess that Aislinn and I have created. Take good care of it like I know you will. Please try to keep Abby out of trouble although I know how difficult that can be.
To Mr. Fleury, we leave our school knowing that the website is in good, reliable hands. Thank you for your commitment and for your understanding. Please seek help for your obvious “Office” addiction, it’s alarming.
For old times sake (and because Aislinn did it) here are some of my favorite quotes:
“Add to the world, don’t rip it apart.” -Nick
“Remember, baller on a budget” -Fleury
“We’re going to get t-t-t-turnt.” – Mrs. Edwards
“Thank you for your time I’m done wasting it.” -Abby