Six and a half years ago, Caroline Kubzansky ‘17 convinced me to join her revival of Burke’s student newspaper. I didn’t really know what I was signing up for, but it seemed interesting, I wanted a cool extracurricular activity, and she was very persuasive. And as a nerdy little sixth-grader, the appeal of a club with a pun for a name was not insignificant. So I jumped right in from the very first meeting. I wasn’t great at news writing right away, but I really enjoyed it, so I kept at it and worked hard to improve. Two and a half years later, Caroline passed the editorship of the paper to her younger brother Will ‘19, and he gave me the chance to become an assistant editor. Suddenly, a whole new learning curve. But with it came the promise of a potential leadership position and all the rewarding experiences that come with helping other succeed. I jumped at that chance, and all of that led to a moment two years ago, when Will shook my hand and officially declared me the new editor-in-chief of The Cageliner. and said something along the lines of, “Don’t worry, you got this.” Despite his confidence and my experience, I very much worried I did not “got this.”
I started my time as editor-in-chief at the beginning of junior year. I had a busy academic and extracurricular schedule, and I found that I lacked the extreme Cageliner work ethic that allowed Will and Caroline to lead the paper so effortlessly. But once I stopped trying to emulate their styles and started finding my own, I began to settle into a groove.
Then the world turned upside down.
Nothing could have prepared me for running the school newspaper in a time of so much uncertainty and stress, a time where school itself was totally different than ever before. It was the ultimate test of my Cageliner intuition, but I was also incredibly lucky to be able to lean on the other members of the editorial board, my dear friends Abby Ross and Huit Blackmon.
We got thrown curveball after curveball, but we survived. A newly remote world allowed us to try some cool new things, particularly the sweet new website you’re reading this on. I saw old writers improving their skills and new writers beginning to fall in love with writing. I feel confident that the Cageliner is in as strong a position as ever entering next year and beyond.
One of the things Will told me, Abby, and Huit before he left was that he wanted the Cageliner to be more ambitious than just a school newspaper. Last summer, social media filled up with sexual assault allegations against DC high schoolers, including numerous former Burke students. It was a story that needed to be covered and an opportunity for us to write a hard-hitting investigative piece that carried some real weight. It was a covert and frustrating operation in its early stages, and it took almost a year of research, interviewing, writing, editing, rewriting, and lots of back and forth with the school administration, but we published that article today. If you haven’t read it yet, click off of this stupid thing and go read it right now. I did very little of the actual work, but it is still the proudest achievement of my time as editor-in-chief. I’m incredibly grateful to Abby and Isabel for their tireless (and spectacular) work, and to all of the students and alumni who granted them the candid interviews they needed to make it happen.
We’re nearing the end here, so it’s time to go full Oscars speech mode. I want to thank Will, Caroline, and all of the other Burke/Cageliner alums who made my early years on the newspaper so enjoyable. I want to give a huge thank you to the faculty advisers who have helped the paper survive: Alison Merow, Elizabeth Sislen, and Julia H. Cain. Special shoutout to Wan Ryu for letting us use (and eat in) the computer lab when we needed to produce print papers, and of course to Damian Jones for letting us do what we do. To any student who was a part of The Cageliner during my time as editor, even for just one meeting, thank you for ensuring I still had a club to run. To the writers who have written article after article, who step up to fill awkward silences at meetings, and email me when I ask them to, thank you for keeping me from going completely nuts. To Jen Chiancone, Lily Davis, Abby, and Huit, thank you for stepping up into big roles that needed filling so the paper could run smoothly, and for keeping me in line. To all of my non-Cageliner friends who let me vent about my struggles with the paper, thank you for listening and offering advice. You were a crucial part of the paper, even if you didn’t know it. To everyone who has ever picked up a physical Cageliner, read a newsletter or a Medium post, followed our Instagram, or browsed the new website: thank you for giving us an interested and excited readership base. You are the reason we do this.
And finally, to Anya Weller, Solana Torres, Jacob Zuckerman, Miranda Gentin, Montana Norman, and Liam Widnell. Thank you for showing the kind of interest and commitment to the paper that gives me confidence in you to succeed as the new leaders, despite a very tumultuous transition process. You have the skills and drive to be incredibly successful, and I hope your peers and the greater Burke community reward you with the support and rave reviews you deserve. To paraphrase Will Kubzansky, “You got this!” You really do.