Goodbye and Thank You


Photo Credit: Katie Shiflett

Goodbyes are never easy, I know…stating the obvious. I only wrote for The Wire for 2 years, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Nevertheless, they’re necessary, so I’m going to give this my best shot.


I was never going to join The Wire, I didn’t think journalism was for me, but when Junior year came around, I had an elective free and my sister, who had already been on staff for 2 years, convinced me to join. I will always be grateful to her for that (though don’t tell her that, she’ll lord it over me ‘till the end of time). I have learned a lot in the last 2 years. I’ll always be thankful for the friends I’ve made, from my fellow-editors to my adviser. This place helped me find my voice, figuratively speaking. I will carry memories of this place and the people I met forever.


I won’t ever forget this place. There was a lot of life lived here, even if I only spent 2 and ¾ years in the actual building. There have been lows: full on freak-outs and I can only thank my friends for getting me through them. Whoever is reading this, I hope you have friends like that. You don’t need many, just 2 or 3, who will sit, listen, and talk you through a completely unnecessary and bordering on irrational freak-out. There have also been highs: soccer practices where it seemed like the main goal of the coaches was to just get us to stop talking and pay attention…sometimes they actually managed it. 


The people made this place unforgettable. My teachers, especially Ms. Cooper, Ms. Hubbard, and Mrs. O’Grady, who had to put up with me for multiple years (how they managed it will remain a mystery to me) gave me support. My friends and teammates gave me joyful memories and there is no way I can ever thank them enough.


I hope that people get to have a high school experience like I did. I had plenty of resources and teachers that really helped me, but I worry that it’s not going to happen. We’re at a critical time for public education. Teacher turnover is at an amazingly high rate and some schools are massively overpopulated, which, with the understaffing, is leading to classes of 40 people in some districts. Since the Great Recession, there has been a persistent problem with teacher retention. Nine out of every 10 teachers hired each year are replacing teachers who left voluntarily. More than ⅔ of teachers quit before retirement. This problem is even worse in lower income schools, where the turnover rate is nearly 50% greater than other schools. This then leads to teacher shortages, which exacerbates the problems of overcrowded classrooms.


Then there are the problems with funding. According to the NEA (National Education Association) $11,000 is spent on each student each year in the United States, but on average $1,200 less is given to high poverty districts and $2,000 less is received by districts servicing the largest numbers of students of color. This is not sustainable, and it’s just plain unfair. The people who need the help the most aren’t getting it.


They won’t be getting the experience that I had, and that’s too bad. School, even when it stinks, is formative and critical to each person. I was extremely fortunate to have had the opportunities that I’ve had and we have to try harder to ensure that everyone can have those opportunities, but in order to do that we need teachers and the schools need funding. I hope that this improves in the future and I will forever be grateful that I had those opportunities.


That brings us back to the goodbye part. Though I will be physically leaving this place, it will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I hope that the mark I leave behind will remain, if just for a short while.


To my friends, teachers, and teammates: I wish you joy, though we may never meet again. Thank you. Goodbye.