Thank you.

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Lydia Roseman

It would be remiss of me not to mention that I emerged victorious in the Pathfinder’s Bachelor competition.

This Wednesday will mark the three-year anniversary of the first time a story was sent to my inbox. I distinctly remember sitting in my living room towards the end of my freshman year, editing a track and field piece while Kentucky Derby coverage played in the background. To ease the transition from one school year to the next, our editorial board has a tradition of passing the torch during the first week of May. This creates a cycle of sorts, one that eventually sees the program leaders of today stepping down for those of tomorrow.

So I sit here writing to you as former Pathfinder editor Tyler Kinzy.

When this article publishes, I will be attending my last of roughly 100 weekly editorial board meetings. If that seems like a lot, that’s because it is. By virtue of being the sole underclassman on the 2018-19 editorial board, I will leave Parkway West as the Class of 2021’s only three-year Pathfinder editor. I mention this factoid not to brag, but to make a point about the extent to which my overall high school experience and time with the Pathfinder are intertwined.

I didn’t compete at my first speech and debate tournament until January of my freshman year. Conversely, the pandemic upended most of the theatre department’s plans during my senior year. But I was enrolled in Newspaper 1 from the first day of class and have contributed to this publication ever since. To that end, the Pathfinder represents a wire-to-wire account of my high school career. There have been two constants in my life from August 2017 through the present, both of which I am beyond grateful for: my biological family and my Pathfinder family.

It isn’t hyperbole to say that I could spend tens of thousands of words describing the many wonderful people I’ve gotten to know in this program. However, I know any attempt to prove so will result in whatever the journalism equivalent of getting played off stage is. Longtime Pathfinder readers already know of my predecessors, past editors-in-chief who were incredibly influential in my development as a journalist and person. With that in mind, I want to give special thanks to several individuals who never received the same limelight treatment despite being far more deserving of it than I ever will be.

Maddie, thank you for being one of the kindest people I have ever met and someone those around you know they can always lean on. Ridwan, your humor made every class period more enjoyable, and the rest of us owe you for your tireless enforcement of the headphones policy. Nell, you embody brilliant in every sense of the word. Your constant challenging of my thinking paired with immeasurable compassion will forever impact the way I approach both intellectual and personal endeavors in life. Zoe, suffice it to say that you have made this world a more empathetic place through your words and your actions. Personally, the inside jokes baked into our conversations have been a consistent bright spot for me. Ulaa, you receive nowhere near the amount of public admiration and appreciation you deserve. Your commitment to everything worth fighting for is a testament to your character and an inspiration to those lucky enough to know you.

In addition to Zoe and Ulaa, I want to thank the entire 2020-21 Pathfinder staff for their dedication and support this year. Working with you has been an honor and a privilege, and any success I have had as an editor is, first and foremost, a reflection of your excellence. Even when a pandemic and quarter system — ahem — presented one unforeseen challenge after another, this group was too amazing for me to ever have doubts about the state of the Pathfinder.

One thing you may not know is that we made some changes to our internal operations this school year. For the first time in, to my knowledge, the history of the Pathfinder, none of our staff had assignment deadlines. Yes, you read that correctly. I never told a writer, “I need that story in my inbox by Tuesday and you need to pitch your next idea by Wednesday.” I fought pretty fiercely to get this policy implemented, believing that more schedule flexibility would benefit staff-wide wellness and encourage thorough, high-quality storytelling that wasn’t as compatible with a stricter, deadline-based system. Needless to say, this requires a level of trust you don’t typically see placed in high schoolers, but I would consider the experiment to have been a major success. If you put this staff in a position where they’re passionate about what they’re doing, they’ll give you a truly outstanding publication.

Of course, I must thank our readership as well. Be it friends and family, students and staff, alumni or any other member of our community, your support for this program can’t be understated. Two readers in particular, Mrs. Borgsmiller and Mrs. Gossett, made it possible for me to balance my Pathfinder obligations with leadership positions in the realms of speech and debate and theatre. I could write standalone articles on the impact each of them has had on my life; they are as devoted to their students as any educator could possibly be. Additionally, I am always humbled when someone reaches out about an article of mine. Your emails, comments and hallway chats have been more gratifying than any accolade, and I am especially floored when people I’ve never even met take time out of their day to help me become a better writer and thinker.

As my Pathfinder tenure draws to a close, I am confident that this program is in good hands. I had the pleasure of helping to assemble the 2021-22 editorial board, and if these bright, talented minds’ work over the past few years is any indication, the rest of us are getting a front-row seat to watch greatness as they continue to grow. To those editors, know that you belong here; we put you on the editorial board for a reason: we trust you to lead this program. If I have one piece of advice for you, it’s to stay grounded by remembering that you are in an educational space with tremendous educational potential. Grant yourself time to self-reflect and acknowledge that the stories you publish and the awards you win will come and go. The true value of this program rests in its pedagogical underpinnings, in the relationships you will form and the discourse you will immerse yourselves in. Strive to create an environment in which every member of the Pathfinder is empowered to constantly challenge their understanding of the world and critically engage with their surroundings. If you utilize this program as a space to imagine and actualize a just world, you will find yourselves next May pleased with what you have accomplished as editors, but, more importantly, personally and intellectually invigorated. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you, and I am always available if you need anything, journalism-related or otherwise.

Finally, there is one more person I need to thank. Parkway West provided top-notch journalism education before I arrived, and it will continue to do so after I depart. That’s because year in, year out, there is one common denominator at the core of everything we students achieve: Mrs. Klevens. To simultaneously lead yearbook and newspaper programs the caliber of ours requires a type of innate work ethic and drive that I can’t come close to capturing with words. If you were to ask me what makes a great publications adviser, all of the traits I would list are ones that she exemplifies every day. Sure, Mrs. Klevens’ ability to manage complex logistics is exceptional and shamefully underappreciated, but her genuine care for us is something I’ve only become more and more grateful for the longer I’ve been a part of this program. It takes a smart leader to create a good product, but it takes a special leader to create something that others regard as a home. I can say unequivocally that Mrs. Klevens has shaped the Parkway West publications program into the terrific home that it is today.

This is an apt spot to inform you that I buried the lede. Of the nearly 1,500 students currently at Parkway West, I am the only one who has been a member of the Pathfinder staff for four years. But that one came extremely close to being zero. If my memory is correct, I told Mrs. Klevens this story once during my sophomore year, but I believe that single occasion is the only time I’ve shared it with anyone.

Being the old man I am at the grizzled age of 18, most Convergence Journalism 1 (formerly Newspaper 1 and Yearbook 1) students have heard me reminisce about my first Pathfinder story. My first interview went poorly, and I found a way to make the second one even worse by showing up at the wrong location. Normally, I tell this story to segue into a discussion about the inevitability of mistakes when learning, ultimately noting that everything turned out alright for me.

The part I’ve never told CJ1 classes is that my first Pathfinder story almost became my last. The interview debacle caused me to seriously reconsider whether or not I wanted to remain in the program and return for second semester of my freshman year. Shortly thereafter, I emailed my counselor to inquire about other classes I could take to fulfill the Career and Technical Education credit for graduation. Per school policy, I would need to ask Mrs. Klevens for a drop form before I could switch out of Newspaper 1.

I never did. The fear that made me a timid interviewer was the same fear that made me too nervous to go through the motions of dropping a class. What would I even say? There were multiple sections of Newspaper 1, so I couldn’t lie and say it didn’t fit into my schedule. As for the class itself, I loved journalism and I thought Mrs. Klevens was a great teacher. I realized I would never be able to explain to her why I wanted to drop because my only reason for wanting out was fear — an irrational fear. If not for a pedantic requirement from counseling, this article — and the dozens of others to my name — likely never would have been written.

In that story lies what is arguably Mrs. Klevens’ most remarkable trait: she believes in us more than we believe in ourselves. Through that entire ordeal, she never flinched because she believed in me. And later that school year, she believed in me when she deemed me capable of editing for the Pathfinder as a rising sophomore, which takes us back to the vignette I began this piece with. My ascension within the Pathfinder is, more accurately, a history of Mrs. Klevens believing in me and revealing things even I didn’t know about myself. I hope that I’ve made you proud over the past four years and that I will make you proud wherever life takes me from here. Like I said earlier, special leaders create homes. The Pathfinder will always be my home.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

-Tyler