March 12, 2017

Looking Back on Two Years with The Flame

Kim Robins '17 and Zach Colton-Max '17

From our impressive scores in Miniclip games during Spark meetings to Sam Zimerman's brief time on the Ochsygen staff, the Class of 2017 has an illustrious history with regards to the GOA student newspaper. As former Editors-in-Chief of The Flame, the two of us have been particularly involved in writing, editing, designing and publishing the paper at all levels. Whether our participation in the GOA newspaper began in third grade or freshman year, our journalistic experiences have given us a deep appreciation for the GOA student body and the school as a whole.
To us, the GOA newspaper is an essential part of student life. We both initially joined the newspaper for the same reason: we wanted to play a bigger role in telling our peers’ stories and in influencing the actions and policies of the school. As far as we are concerned, neither of these jobs will ever be finished, but we have made significant progress in each area.
The Flame was far from the only activity in which we were involved during high school. However, despite our commitments to the school musicals, Robotics, Model Congress, Israel Club and everything else GOA could throw at us, we persisted in our work with the newspaper. We dedicated ourselves to the publication because we were inspired by our peers' passions and were compelled to share them. Writing for The Flame gave us the opportunity to discuss student groups and clubs, to interview their leaders and to publicize interesting events and initiatives. As editors, our peers approached us with topics about which they were passionate and we were able to incorporate these into articles and features.
With GOA's rigorous curriculum and busy days, we know that students struggle to find time for their interests outside of school and that they spend more time talking about academic stress than about their true passions. For us, the most important part of working on The Flame was breaking this cycle: we helped students share the things about which they care and in doing so connected our peers to one another. This is what motivated us to continue our work on The Flame when things were going well and this is also what reinspired us when our work seemed futile.
As we became Editors-in-Chief, one of our goals was to refocus The Flame on our own community. Instead of bringing world, national and local news together into one publication, we wanted to ensure that our articles revolved around GOA students and faculty, either by reporting on them directly or by sharing their perspectives on more global events. It was important to us that The Flame be the mouthpiece of our student body and that The Flame’s coverage was truly unique.
We also know that The Flame is a platform for civic engagement: students can write about elements of their GOA experiences that are going well, but can also share their opinions about aspects of school in which they see room for improvement. Students who once hesitated to voice grievances about the dress code, the lunch program or the curriculum itself have been able to speak out through Flame editorials and opinion pieces and as editors, we have been privileged to help these students improve our school community through their input.
During our time with The Flame, we have worked to make the paper a more open platform for students’ critical voices by diversifying its content and by working with the administration to combat censorship. Thanks to the work of Mr. Hefetz, Mr. Shapiro, Ms. Stodolski, Mr. Herskowitz and the students themselves, the GOA student body is more engaged in journalism than ever, because The Flame amplifies students’ voices and provides an environment for uninhibited, productive discourse between students and faculty.
As Editors-in-Chief of The Flame, we were inspired by the students around us but also by our writers and editors. The editorial staff, the Journalism class and other student writers were mature, creative and cooperative, and their hard work was essential in developing the paper. We are impressed with the work of the new Flame leadership and we are confident that the writers and editors will continue to make us all proud.
As much as we might like to, we could not edit The Flame forever. We are left to carry the yellowing extra copies of the papers we published in our Neshama and college suitcases, but we also carry with us the knowledge that our work has impacted the GOA community in the long term. We are grateful for the support we have received from every student and administrator and we are proud to see that our successors are carrying on our commitment to civil engagement and sharing students’ passions.

If you’re reading this, thank you for empowering us. And if nothing else, keep writing.


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