We’ve all grown a lot over the past year. I could go into some gushy spiel about how the pandemic taught us important lessons and whatnot, but I meant that literally. Here at the Record, a lot of us got our first period, or had our first communion, or finally stopped asking for a kids’ menu. No matter how big or small our achievements were, I’m proud of everyone. I’m especially proud of our first-years, who I haven’t known for long, but who have demonstrated a lot of courage in the past few months. They were so brave, in fact, that when we stopped serving chocolate milk at meetings, most of them didn’t even cry. So, I knew that when we were planning our last issue of the year, I should leave it up to them. 

And just as I thought, these kids were bursting at the seams with ideas. It turns out that they had all just taken a class called “Advanced Placement English Literature,” and so they knew about all these different forms of writing. At first, they suggested we put out a standardized test and make our readers pay to take it. I told them that I loved the idea, but then it turned out they were just joking because they wanted to expose which of the upperclassmen were nerds in high school. God, they’re so clever for their age.

After the entire Record staff finally settled on calling me “Nerdy McNerdFace” and laughed at me for twenty minutes, we finally decided to expand our horizons and explore a new form—poetry. While I didn’t know much about the form, I was excited to learn. It was about time that we shook things up here at the Record, much like how the pandemic shook up my life and no one else’s. So, I bought a couple of poetry compilations and dropped them off in the Record office for everyone to share.

We had a number of meetings—one meeting, to be exact—to learn about the craft. We read and read and read, and then we got tired of reading and watched Dead Poets’ Society, and then we figured out which character we all were. I thought I was like the creative, nonconformist, fun Mr. Keating, but everyone else insisted that I was the old, mean headmaster who made everyone follow a bunch of rules. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the hair.

With all the reading and watching and critical film analysis out of the way, we decided we were ready to write some poems of our own. I told everyone to let their hearts sing and their souls shine, and then I made a note to put that phrase somewhere in the issue. Everybody amazed me with their skill, and I was so happy that despite all the challenges of this year, the Record was still going strong.

But then I realized that my time as Editor in Chief was nearing its end. I was sad that I had to leave everything behind, especially when we were doing so well, but I was mostly sad because the entire staff hadn’t pitched in to buy me a going away present. I didn’t want anything special, just like a house or a car or something. I left our last meeting carrying my box of things with my head down. Then one of the underclassmen said, “Kaylee, wait!” and stood on the table. Soon everyone else followed suit, as they all shouted out my favorite line of poetry, “Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.” I tearfully said the only words that could perfectly encapsulate how I felt about the sweet gesture— “What are all your names again?”

And just like that, I left. A few days later I put together that it was a Dead Poets’ Society reference, and they were trying to give me a Mr. Keating moment. But that was after I kicked them all off the Record for being too rowdy, so I guess I wasn’t the cool teacher after all. I felt kind of bad that I depleted our staff and left the incoming Big Four with nothing, and that I crushed the dreams of all the underclassmen who showed so much promise, but that’s not really my problem anymore. For now, enjoy the poetry of all those crazy rulebreakers. I’ll be off trying to destroy another college humor magazine from within.

—K. Walsh