Senior goodbye: Lessons that will last a lifetime


Parker Nolan / Edited by Parker Nolan

Senior Caroline Smith shares the lessons she learned in newspaper that can be applied outside the classroom.

Caroline Smith, Editor-in-Chief

Editor’s Note: Senior goodbyes are student pieces that reflect on their past years in high school. These pieces take very different perspectives and the prompt was meant to be vague to inspire creativity. 

Over the past four years, I have written 44 articles, published 30 photos, posted 712 stories and videos, and edited, coordinated, and assigned countless more for this wonderful website. And this is my very last one.


To say that The Red Ledger has had a significant impact on my high school career would be an understatement.

Freshman year, I began my work on this website as a socially awkward, poorly dressed, very scared managing editor, and I leave today as a slightly less awkward, much more confident adult. Being an editor for this publication has shaped me into who I am now, and has taught me more about life than any other class I’ve taken while walking the halls of Lovejoy High School. The lessons I have learned on staff will stick with me through college and beyond and make me an all-around better person.

Since this is my final post on this website, it’s important to me to take time to reflect on some of the biggest concepts that this newspaper has taught me. I know lists can be boring, and they definitely aren’t journalistic, but I am making one anyway, so stick with me here. These lessons apply to more than just the newsroom.

1. There is great power in someone’s story. My favorite type of news story to write is a feature, which, for those who don’t know, is an article typically focused on one person with an individual and personal angle. In writing these stories, I have had the privilege of interviewing many diverse people, each with their own experiences, strengths, challenges, and passions. That’s the beauty of it, really. Each person brings something totally different to the game that we call life; each person has a story that is uniquely theirs. And there is an infinite amount of knowledge to be gained by simply hearing another’s story. By taking the time to listen, to ask questions, and to try one’s hardest to understand what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes, the world becomes such a better place for all of us to exist in.

2. Sometimes hard work goes unrecognized, and that’s OK. Some days, I would work hours upon hours posting and editing stories, and receive not even as much as a thank you. Three times, The Red Ledger has been nominated for the esteemed Pacemaker Award, but we have yet to win it, despite feeling that we have definitely earned the title. Hard work goes without recognition. Some people just don’t care about what to me seems so important; that’s just life. But life isn’t about getting the most accolades or receiving the most credit. That’s not ever where happiness is found. It’s about way more than just bringing glory to my own name.

3. People are more important than their capabilities. As editor, it can be so easy to view people as simply what they can contribute to the site. To refer to a staff member as the strong writer, the one who never turns in their work, the photographer, the kid who only took the class for the technology credit – and know nothing else about them. It can become so easy to fall into the trap of viewing each person as only a tool to be used in order to further the success of the website. But people are so much more than that, and leading is so much more than that. To be an effective leader, it’s crucial to build a strong relationship with each person based on mutual respect; to genuinely care about them as a person, and not just the sum of their parts. This style of leading is far more effective than just viewing someone as an asset, and the outcome of such relationships benefits all parties involved.

4. Never underestimate the power of a good snack. I likely have eaten more junk food in E103 than all other rooms on campus combined, and this is all attributed to the legendary and highly envied snack cabinet. From pop tarts to pita chips to fruit snacks, this cabinet has it all. Each Friday, it is unlocked and the staff takes a break from their assignments to instead enjoy some good food with their classmates. Life is hard, and it’s a lot of work, but sometimes it’s imperative to just take a break, no matter how busy things seem.

When it comes down to it, high school and newspaper is a whole lot like the real world – except with a better late work policy and maybe a little less sleep. There is so much to be learned here, not necessarily in the classroom, but through everyday experiences. 

High school sucks a lot of the time, but both the good and the bad are necessary in order to mold us into well rounded and independent beings. And I could not be more grateful for all of it– for the ability, as essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children… to leave the world a better place… to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”