JK, GOT YA!
You can't get rid of me that easily, UT. I'll be returning as Editor-in-Chief over the summer and in the fall, because Jerry Bush just loves me that much.
He's laughing now.
But, what a GREAT year with a GREAT staff helping serve a GREAT community. It was GREAT. Can you tell?
This time last year, Tyler Wombles and I had, quite literally, no idea what we were doing, partially because we didn't even know which one of us was doing what job yet. We just knew we'd be ME and EIC and hoped we'd do a decent job.
I'd say we accomplished that.
On our first day on the job, I was visiting the zoo to get away from the chaos of finals and Wombles was in the drive thru line of Cook Out. I had just walked into the infamous (and slightly terrifying) bird exhibit, when I got a call from Tyler who said, “uhhh I think they fired the chancellor.”
Yeah, that's how our first day went. Tyler and I rushed from our happy places to what became our happiest place - the Beacon office - to pull together a story on the removal of former Chancellor Beverly Davenport from her post. I am so thankful for Cat Trieu, who willingly volunteered to be thrown on the front lines of the protest that ensued after the announcement, and Stu Boyd, who John Kennedy made film the protest because he just happened to be the videographer in the office.
It was the start of a pretty well-oiled machine that only broke down a few times. We've covered a bunch of stories this year, so many that I like to think everything that could have happened this year happened just to test me and Tyler: Asian scavenger hunts, blackface incidents, hate speech on the Rock, interim presidents and chancellors and deans, floods, mold, new coaches, election judicial hearings and that just scratches the surface.
Where this is going is I'm so thankful for a Managing Editor like Tyler Wombles. I'm not quite sure what I would have done without him and his terrible jokes. We definitely butted heads more than I have with my own family, but we had a successful year and I can't thank him enough for this.
Tyler, if you happen to read this, thank you.
My thank you's don't stop there- and I wouldn't want them to. This year, six seniors are graduating from the Beacon- Matthew Underwood, Blake Von Hagen, Rob Harvey, Kelsey French, Elexis Houston and Elisa Razak.
Thank you, Matthew, for choosing the Beacon for your practicum and then staying to cover baseball. Not many practicum writers stay past their required semester, and I am glad you did.
Thank you, Blake, for stepping into the shoes of sports editor, making me laugh, waiting for me when my chicken nuggets take too long at Chick-fil-a and being awesome at your job. That cardboard box won't last long, because you're extremely talented and they'll be fighting to have you on staff.
Thank you, Rob, for being so much more than a boss last year and becoming one of my closest friends. Too many m&ms, vines and classroom jokes later, I am happy we shared so many classes together and time at the Beacon because it was a waffle lot of fun.
Thank you, Kelsey, for jumping into the assistant digital producer role that turned into the digital producer role really fast. And for filming me eating cheese/laughing at me eating cheese/eating cheese with me. I'll always remember that cheese- and your sweet soul.
Thank you, Elexis, for shining this year and helping make the digital section a better place. And for standing on a table to get a shot of Vision celebrating, even though you definitely probably shouldn't have stood on it. I appreciate your dedication, sweet angel.
Thank you, Elisa, for taking a chance on the Beacon, letting us steal you from the advertising side and transforming what we call the print edition. You have taken a hold of my heart, and I wish I had words to describe how thankful I am for you.
Beneath all of these seniors are our juniors, sophomores and freshies who have shined in their own rights. A word on the freshies- we have so many who have shined so bright. Jake Yoder is now our resident movie reviewer. Bailey Fritz and Aly DeMarco will be editors to start their sophomore year. Braxton Z. has started a Busted phenomenon. Austin Orr has taken the digital team by storm (and will be returning as their producer next year). Coleman Numbers is in his second semester and is already a senior staff writer. Ben Winiger has excelled in his writing. Allie Justis has done nothing but make me smile.
I could keep going, and if you're still reading, you probably don't want me to. I am so blessed, thankful, grateful for a year with these wonderful people. If anyone knew me this time last year, they knew I was WAY scared of what this year would bring, but I wish I could go back and tell myself it would be okay.
To all my fellow Vols graduating, congratulations. I wish I was graduating, but then again, I'm glad I'm not because I get a little bit more time at the place I can't imagine leaving.
See you tomorrow, Beacon readers.