A Timely Goodbye and a Plea for Commitment

By Reuben Schafir ’17 and Javin Dana ’17

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article omitted George Zaninovich as one of the faculty members who will continue to work with CatlinSpeak. The mistake has been rectified. 

As we leave Catlin Gabel, soon-to-be former editors of our high school paper, we are taking some time to reflect on the trajectory of CatlinSpeak.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 12.11.50 AM

Outgoing CatlinSpeak Editors Reuben ’17 and Javin ’17 pose for a photo. (Photo: Grace Wong ’17).

Both of us joined as Sophomores, eagerly collecting interviews behind the lenses of our cameras, in the headphones of our recorders, and on the penciled lines of our notebooks. Entranced by our new outlet for expression, we strived to create the best content for our community. As Editors our Junior year, we tackled the meaning of progressive education and analyzed how Catlin lived up to its claimed values, we spoke with people about criminal justice, tragic accidents, homelessness in Portland, and the commodification of Christmas.

With the guidance of Upper School Social Studies Teachers Patrick Walsh and George Zaninovich, CatlinSpeak developed into a resource for parents, students, and faculty to look to for the student voice, and we continued that legacy as Editors.

As Walsh and Zaninovich began to take on different positions in the department, they no longer had time to continue teaching New Media Studies (the class that produced CatlinSpeak) for free, as they had done for over five years.

Unwilling to allow the paper to die, we tried to run the paper as a club, but to no avail. The short, weekly co-curricular periods unfortunately prevented us from producing a paper of the same caliber we became accustomed to. CatlinSpeak was a paper of professionalism, and to ensure its quality, time and dedication are required on the part of all of its members. Within the context of a club, we simply could not maintain our standards as a school newspaper.

Our unfiltered opinion is this: the Catlin Gabel Community, specifically the student body, exists as a weaker, underrepresented party without a student newspaper.

Catlin Gabel continually changes, and this past year was no exception. Without CatlinSpeak, we had no outlet to discuss impressions of the candidates for the Head of Upper School, or ask questions of the incoming Upper School Head Aline Garcia-Rubio ’93. When Head of School Tim Bazemore stated that the average teacher salary was $70,000 and many teacher vocally reacted, claiming that that wasn’t possibly accurate, we did not have a structure with which a student could have investigated the matter, even though students are the only party that would have been able to do so.

As the school moves towards its progressive education goals, becoming an education lab, pondering the idea of the mastery transcript, changing the seven-day rotating schedule, the community suffers without a forum for discussion of these issues.

More just a soapbox for students, CatlinSpeak held a greater position in our community. BuzzFeed, Twitter, and Huffington Post are quickly usurping The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. “New media” and crowdsourced news rise in popularity while the papers that uncovered Watergate, the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal, and brought down Bill O’Reilly quietly die off. High quality journalism’s descent must reversed, and programs such as CatlinSpeak have and must continue to aid that reversal.

As such, we ask the student body that will remain long after we have left campus, to help maintain our school paper–to help provide a platform for students to voice their thoughts and have meaningful discussions about our school and the world around us.

Moving forward, under the guidance of incoming Upper School Head Garcia-Rubio, instructors Patrick Walsh, George Zaninovich, Cliff Mason II, and Krystal Wu will be working to revive and revitalize CatlinSpeak. Though it’s form is currently under construction, CatlinSpeak will be continuing under their purview, but will still largely be guided by student interest and engagement. Depending on the number of participating students and the general enthusiasm surrounding the paper, CatlinSpeak may return as a part of our Upper School curriculum.

However, Walsh, Zaninovich, Mason, Wu, and Garcia-Rubio can only do so much. Ultimately, it is up to the students to ensure that quality writing is provided for them to edit. Our students must be equally or more dedicated than our teachers to providing strong writing, to voicing their thoughts and helping our school.

We hope that CatlinSpeak will once again be able to return to discuss the structure of politics under our current administration, the changing landscape of global affairs, the environmental ramifications of actions at home and abroad, the shifting culture at Catlin Gabel–every important issue as it arises. CatlinSpeak can and should remain an enclave of quality journalism within a culture shifting rapidly towards tabloids, social media, and pay-to-play news. We hope that our paper can remain a voice for our student body.

We wish to express the utmost gratitude to the students that made our experience possible and piqued our interest in journalism, namely Lauren Fogelstrom ’15, Jubilee Lopez ’15, Sophie Peters ’16, as well the writers who worked tirelessly for the paper under our guidance last year.

It is crucial that CatlinSpeak remains an integral part of our community, and its success will require a group of dedicated students and teachers alike, both working to resurrect quality journalism at Catlin Gabel.