By Gian Ellis-Gannell
Graduating Editor in Chief 2019/20
I cried when I tried to start writing this article.
It may have been the exhaustion stemming from my insistence upon completing one final late night before publication, or it may have been the beginning of the realisation that this is the end of my three year long stint as The Mary Word’s Design Editor and Editor in Chief. I first felt it after our last meeting, and presume that I will feel the full force as soon as I submit my final ‘go for launch’ email to Mr Scali. This student newspaper has become my pride and joy and hopefully, my legacy of the time I have spent here at Loreto. So yes, I have grown rather attached to it, and I may end up having to take my laptop to ICT for water damage if I cannot get it together and finish my final piece.
Before I truly begin, I would like to establish that any grammatical errors should simply be treated as stylistic, Postmodernist choices given the circumstances. Sorry in advance. This reflection I believe should remain quite raw, lest I reach the point of over-editing the piece and deducting from its personal meaning.
I give these confessions to you, reader, who has elected to dedicate time out of their day for what is likely another cheesy, Loreto farewell article. Thank you, and I hope to make this read worth your while. If you ask me about the tears though, I will deny such an obscene display of emotions resolutely.
In total, I have been a member of this paper for six years- from its very first issue in 2015. That makes the graduating Mary Word members of 2020 the very first to have contributed to the paper for their entire school careers. I am immensely grateful to hold this privilege, and to the dedication of all previous editors of this paper, as well as for Mr Stitt, and then Mr Scali. They have guided The Mary Word as its Executive Editors each year- from when we had less than 10 girls who regularly attend meetings, to more than 60 members. I vividly remember sitting in Ms Watkins’ office as a year ten student and the new Design Editor for 2018; I was clutching my laptop with a mock-up of what would become todays’ newspaper website in an effort to secure server funding. Ms Watkins and Mr Scali were incredibly supportive of my early designs, we were able to get a unique URL ( www.themaryword.com ), and the feeling of accomplishment is one I will always treasure.
Thank you to all of the involved Loreto staff for valuing student voice. Even just reading The Mary Word increases girls’ confidence in their own abilities, and thus supports future growth in, and passion for writing.
I too have come to love the outlet that writing in the ‘Opinion’ section of each issue provides. I have been able to convey my sometimes obsessive interests and outlandish political opinions more eloquently than ever. Designing and editing the paper has also improved my photoshop, digital art and coding skills immeasurably, and both have since become main forms of my artistic expression. I could not have grown so much without the encouragement of others.
I feel like this is now the section where I am supposed to impart wisdom based on my experiences, but I do not believe that I have anything more valuable to say than the next graduating senior. What I can testify to is the fulfillment that has come with leading a student newspaper across Years 5-12, and the joy that it has been to pour my soul into developing The Mary Word’s issues. I have spent many nights pestering people for last minute articles and fixing grammatical or design errors, but I do not regret it for one moment. Being a part of something bigger than myself has been the most challenging, yet rewarding experience of my life so far. I am so proud of the incoming Editors-in-Chief for putting their names forward, as I just know they are going to remember the next year as one of their hardest and best. I suppose there is then a message in that- I have only regretted at Loreto the opportunities that I did not take.
Do not shy away from something that you are passionate, or even just curious about, because it seems hard. You are going to learn the full extent of your capabilities only if you seek out challenge. For example, academic activities have a reputation for being difficult, taking up too much time, and only being for the ‘smart people’. They do take dedication, but in return for your commitment, they give the most amazing memories and friends. Everyone can, and should step out of their comfort zone to challenge themselves. There is no point remaining in stasis when the world around us is dynamic and constantly shifting.
That last part might seem a bit dramatic, but it is what I have learnt most poignantly in 2020.
Dear reader, you know it seems that each year around graduation, I end up editing a plethora of the same senior articles about what The Mary Word has meant and taught to them. They are lovely and heartfelt, but I always found them incredibly predictable and uninspiring. And here I am now, after six incredible, long years, adding mine to those archives.
Perhaps now, after some self-reflection, I can finally read between the literal and metaphorical lines of ‘thank you’s and ‘farewell’ s to note the significance of the shared experiences of Senior Loreto girls in this paper. From speaking with other school’s graduating classes, I have discovered that a grade collectively feeling so unified is not a common thing, and though our individual testimonies will always hold weight, it is our consistency and the many shared values and themes of these final articles that speak to the quality of our education and the opportunities we have been afforded. Somewhat unique to Loreto, the vast majority of us I hope consider each member of the class of 2020, in one way or another, family; one that has survived horrific cases of Lice on FNQE, countless grade drama’s, cancelled school due to bushfires, and of course… the entirety of 2020. And yet despite the hardships, there still exists a feeling of being compelled to communicate gratitude for the experiences Loreto has provided us. How lucky we are to go to a school that cares about and nurtures student voice. Even in our year seven members of the student newspaper, I see social justice, verity, and felicity regularly communicated in the articles that I edit. No matter how late it is when I am uploading and editing for each issue, I can still palpably feel the passion of students, and the sorrow of the seniors leaving.
I know of course that both The Mary Word and the broader Loreto community are in wonderful hands. Thank you for supporting this paper, and Nicola and I’s efforts to help it thrive. Knowing that Alessia, Isobel, Erin and Oliva are so dedicated, and that the world is slowly healing, I am, actually, hopeful for the future. Most of all, I am proud of the Class of 2020’s small, but meaningful legacy.
All my love, and au revoir.
To the class of 2020,
We did it.