Seniors (and a sponsor) say goodbye
May 19, 2015
The end of every school year means it is time for reflection and pause. Eleven stalwart Clarion reporters (and one sponsor) would like to take some time to think about what it all has meant and to send some shout out’s and thank you’s to the RB world. Please use the navigation menu in the upper right to review our 2014-15 staff goodbyes.
Due to site limitations, only 10 stories could be attached to this story.
Sponsor’s Goodbye: Dan Mancoff
In Honors English 9, my students are writing a final exam about truth. How do you tell a true story? Truth seems to suggest reality where stories seem to suggest fiction.
It occurs to me, having sponsored our school newspaper for close to a decade, that the task of Clarion is navigating this dividing line.
We tell the truth. We also tell stories.
I have taught at Riverside Brookfield High School for seventeen years, and I did not believe that this year would be my last until it was. In that time, I have seen our school tell many stories and confront many truths. I think that the hardest times are when the stories we’ve wanted to tell ourselves about our culture, our identity, and our dreams as an institution have conflicted with our truths. It is difficult when the story of the familial, close-knit school comes into conflict with the hard truths of economics. Or earlier in our history when stories of achievement and hard work came into conflict with the reality of the standardized testing and AP ranking games.
These are stories. We print them on t-shirts, post them on web sites. We tell them to ourselves and in the telling we make them true.
School board elections are also about telling stories. Every two years, we tell ourselves, “This is what RB was. This is what RB is. This is what it can be.” And then we enact these stories and we make them truth.
Freshmen walk into RB’s doors and we line up and applaud them to tell them a story of what RB is, and then they begin establishing the truth of who they are by what they say and how they act.
When my former supervisor George Miller asked me to step up and sponsor the school newspaper, I did not have a background in journalism. I had never thought of running a school newspaper. What has made it a passion of mine is that I see it as a vehicle for student reporters to confront both the stories and the truths of our school and the world in which they live. Interviews take them to their peers, their teachers, their administrators, and beyond. In the act of writing for the paper, student reporters not only learn truths about our school and how it functions, but they can also tell stories, and in telling stories, they can change the reality of our school and its culture.
That’s a powerful authority for 25 students in a 52-minute period every day.
While I know that the truths our newspaper has told are not always popular, and that we have tried to be current, to be timely, and to push the envelope, I am deeply appreciative of current and former administrations for giving us the room in which to operate. It has been a rare occurrence where those who could silence our paper have done so and that isn’t always the case in high school journalism. I am appreciative that there is a space where students can learn about and ask critical questions about the boundaries of their academic world.
But I am also thankful for my reporters, who remind me that it’s not all budgets and class sizes and policies. It is also the fact that every student has a story and that teachers have secret lives and that alumni once walked these halls. My students remind me that there are human stories that must be told, and these stories become the truth of RB as much, if not more so, than the dollars and the cents and the academic vision and the district goals.
The dollars are the truth. The human lives are the stories.
Somewhere in the middle are Clarion and Riverside Brookfield High School. I am proud to have gotten my chance to be a part of both.
Senior Goodbye: Nick Cundari
I’m graduating high school. Wow. Feels like just yesterday I was walking through the main entrance of RB for the first time, a wide eyed and bushy tailed freshman. My high school journey is no where close to how I expected it to be. But to be completely honest with you, I wouldn’t change a thing in my four years here.
A huge part of my high school career has been influenced by Clarion. I was first on staff my sophomore year, and had no idea what to expect. Sometimes everything would be quite laid back and relaxed, and other times it was hectic; editors running around trying to finish their pages for hard copy, Mr. Mancoff simultaneously proofreading four different stories. But all in all, my time on Clarion has been great, and I will definitely miss it next year.
Probably the biggest part of my high school career has to do with the RB football program. I played all four years of high school, and it was an experience like none other. My first full season on varsity was my junior year, and we had a painful 1-8 season. That offseason, with the hard work and determination of my teammates and coaches, we were able to bring Bulldog football back to the IHSA playoffs in for the first time since 2009. I will never forget when the packed crowd went wild when we clinched playoffs, in the last football game ever played at Shuey Stadium.
Now comes the point where I thank those that have helped me along the way. First and foremost, my parents were on me all throughout high school to do my best, and ironically it all worked just like they promised me it would. Just to name a few teachers: Mr. Mancoff of course for dealing with me all four years of high school, Mr. Monti for inspiring me to get involved with nature and always talking about rock and roll with me, and Mr. Geltner, for somehow making math fun for two years. I would also like to thank all of my football coaches, especially Coach Curtin, Coach Coleman, and Coach Turk, whom I believe I often spent more time with than my own family. Finally, thank you to all my friends for being generally awesome these past four years.
Senior Goodbye: Steven Baer
Life is a peculiar thing. We are thrown into it expected to do fine. For most however, life is seldom a breeze. There are many obstacles that everyone must face in their lives. Regardless of if those hurdles are socioeconomic, family oriented, or psychological; we all must attempt to conquer the things that hinder us from achieving happiness. Sometimes however, despite overcoming life’s challenges, individuals are still left feeling broken or empty.
Life is like a movie. If you sat through a three hour film about a guy who dreams of saving up his money to buy a nice car, and at the end he finally achieves his objective and drives away in a Lamborghini, you’d probably walk away from the film saying, “Wow! That was a boring movie.” As a viewer, one wants to watch a film where the main character has a noble calling and through an adventurous set of circumstances reaches the end goal. If they made a movie about your life, would you want to watch it? For many the answer may be, “No, my life is boring.” Does it have to be? We all have the power to write our own stories, to direct our own films, to live our own lives.
As I leave the Riverside-Brookfield community and bid farewell to many of my good friends, I can depart with a peace of mind knowing that I lived life at RBHS. There hasn’t been a day at RB that I would take back. I’d like to thank all of the teachers at RB for putting up with my disruptive, yet incredibly delightful, classroom antics. Also, a special thanks also goes out to Hank Trujillo, without his guidance I probably wouldn’t even be alive today.
Though it wasn’t always an Oscar-winner, the theoretical film about Steven Baer’s high school days would probably receive an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. But with every good film, there comes a far worse sequel. So stay tuned for the upcoming blockbuster, “Steven Baer 2: College Dropout”, coming this winter. But don’t let my impending failure discourage you from being ambitious with the story of your time on earth. Live a life worthy of a film adaptation… Or don’t, it’s your call. I don’t care.
Senior Goodbye: Chris Olszewski
Being a journalist is, perhaps, one of the more logical conclusions to my childhood. I’ve always had an interest in stories and storytelling, through any medium. Even when I was young, I had a near-encyclopedic knowledge of film,TV, and video games, and this later expanded to music, theater, and the Olympics. I’ve always been a talkative individual; throw me in a room with 100 people and I’ll be talking within two minutes. But when I first became a student here, being on the Clarion wasn’t really on my radar. It wasn’t until my parents pointed out that journalism was an all too perfect intersection of my interests that I signed up on a lark for my junior year.
I won an award with the third piece I wrote. That piece, a review of the film Gravity, was a sort of passion piece: I had been excited for the film since it was announced, and jumped at the chance to review it. And I guess that “passion” is the word that best describes journalism in regards to me. This is something I enjoy doing. The fact that I’m good at it is either no-brainer or a happy accident, depending on how one looks at it.
Along with fellow Clarion reporter Andrew Pilewski, I will be majoring in journalism at the University of Missouri, home to one of the world’s top journalism schools. I am also a Walter Williams Scholar, one of the top students in the school. This is insane to me. Despite what other people might think, I’ve never thought of myself as the cream of the crop at anything I do. I have always felt that I have at least something to prove. That allows me to constantly push myself and try new things and expand the already vast amount that I can do.
This feels like an end. I will never see some of you again, and that saddens me. I’ve had the opportunity to know wonderful people over the last four years and I hope to keep in touch with some of you in the future. But it also feels like a beginning, and that’s where I thrive as a person. Going to college excites me, and I’m thrilled to be going to Columbia to study journalism. I can’t wait.
Senior Goodbye: Jimmy Nolter
For the short time that I have been at RB, I have met many people, learned many lessons, and had fun.
Ultimately, though, the lessons that I learned were not in the classroom, but with the students. I can honestly say that I am glad I went to RB. The teachers are awesome, and I met all different kinds of students. The people here are great to be around, students and teachers alike.
I learned the most by taking all AP’s. It was not easy. There were many long nights with no sleep, but I had help from many different students. Kids are not just in it for themselves. They will help others in any way they can. The atmosphere at RB is a rare one.
If there is any one thing I will miss, it is sports. I have participated in sports for three out of my four years, and focused on academics in my senior year. I played a variety of sports – football, wrestling, and cross country – and learned an important lesson about what it means to be a part of something bigger than yourself.
RB was a good platform to acquire the skills necessary for college. I will miss writing for Clarion, surely, but I know that college will be another amazing life experience.
To all of you that I befriended, farewell and enjoy the next chapter of your lives. It’s going to be fun seeing where you all end up.
Senior Goodbye: Caitie Rusen
Riverside Brookfield is a place where teachers encouraged us to break the status quo and define ourselves as we choose. RB is having friends we’ll keep for the rest of our lives, and that means we really are ‘all in this together’. Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog!
I believe Troy Bolton said it right. The four years at RB were filled with laughter and so many memories. From cheering with my basketball bench squad, to making future plans with my mediocre softball team, my four years of high school are years that I’ll never forget.
Another activity that made a huge impact in my life is Riverside-Brookfield Young Life. I met some of my closest friends being involved in it and it has helped me experience the world outside of this small town in different ways. Walking the halls of RB seeing and interacting with other students that are involved in Young Life has made my high school years even more special. I’m definitely going to miss my Young Life community the most.
But it just hasn’t hit me yet that I’m graduating so soon. This whole year I’ve been thinking of all the “lasts” that I’m experiencing. Like my last homecoming week, my last time cheering in the 6th man, my last time ever playing basketball and softball competitively and many more lasts that I can’t believe are true.
Watching most of my friends go away to college is going to be rough too. It’s so weird to think that we’re going from seeing each other everyday for months straight, to not seeing each other at all until winter break or summer. It’s crazy!
I know college is going to be very tough but I just can’t wait to move on to the next chapter in my life, so deuces RB!
Senior Goodbye: Molly Cunningham
A wise man spoke at a Commencement at Stanford University in 2005. He stood in front of the crowd of graduates and told them three stories. Now, I am not Steve Jobs, so I’m not going to tell you three stories. Instead, I’m going to leave behind a piece of my legacy on how to survive high school from someone who did it.
My time at RB was filled with supportive teachers, friends, the occasional enemy, and experiences I will not forget. Don’t get me wrong, RB will always have a place in my heart and in my life. I have had opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to experience if I didn’t go to RB. I was a Rouser editor all three years I was on staff and I wrote for Clarion. I was the president of a club that hangs out with elderly people every Wednesday at 3:25 and I was a Model UN delegate too!
I guess you can say I’m a good student. I worked hard for my grades and I did my homework and colleges accepted me. The thing is, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the group of people who want to put up with high school students for their jobs. I want to thank Mr. Sloan, Ms. Mynaugh, Ms. Wilmot, T-Digs, Ms. Edwards, JBeas, Mr. Mancoff, Mrs. McGrath, Mr. Forberg, Ms. Johnson, Mama Cassens, the whole Social Studies department for adopting me, especially Ms. Cunningham, who, spoilers, is my sister, and KHayes. I am so grateful that when times were hard, I knew that there were people at school who wanted to make it the best place for me.
KHayes, or to all of you non-Rouser people, Ms. Hayes, challenged the Rouser class last year to pick a word that they were going set their resolutions to for the next year. I can’t remember what junior year Molly chose, but senior year Molly chose “shine.” Shine means to me being able to do something–anything–that makes me or other people feel good. So, I challenge you to pick a word and live up to it. Steve Jobs encouraged people to, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish,” and he was a smart guy so you should do that too.
A few years ago, I could have been quoted saying high school does not fly by. Now, I’m writing my senior goodbye trying to get every last piece of advice out to all the fools of RB. Just remember to keep moving forward; the past is in the past. It may be hard for a moment, but Pre-Calc, a bad haircut, the ACT, drama, and life will go on and you will be fine.
In conclusion, I want to thank all of you for the adventure and here’s some parting advice: “If you didn’t make a fool of yourself, you didn’t do it right.”
Molly Cunningham, Indiana University, class of 2019. Peace out, girl scout. *drops mic.*
Senior Goodbye: Cameron Yarger
It’s hard to think that I’m already a senior writing one of these, I remember in my Sophomore year reading these during my first year of Clarion and thinking that my Senior year was still so far away and now sitting here writing my own kind of bewilders me.
It’s been an interesting four years to say the least and I’ve been blessed enough to spend these four years at such a great school as RB. There’s only one things that has stayed the same over my time here or at least three out of four of my years, I’ve been on staff on Clarion and would never want to change that. Clarion has been a great place for me, it’s taught me how to write better, how to handle deadlines and responsibilities, and it even helped me makes some friends that I may not have talked to without being here. Those are real world skills that I’ll use for the rest of my life, while I might not use physics equations on a day to day these skills I will.
High school has been just about the most chaotic time of my life, anyone that says it’s the best time of a person’s life is hopefully wrong because although its had its ups its had its downs to, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Through the chaos I’ve learned some of the toughest life lessons and found some of the best people to call my friends and I’m proud of the person I’ve become. It’s hard to think that these are my last couple weeks sitting in this school and this fall I’ll be dumped into a whole new environment where I’ll have to learn how to live there just like I have here.
Overall thank you to the RB staff that have helped me grow and learn and thank you to all my peers that made it possible.
Senior Goodbye: Nick Kaczmarek
Throughout the four years here at RB, I’ve had many up’s and downs whether it’s grades, teachers or classes in general. During high school, one of the main things to do is, yes learn things but not only that, you have to find out who you really are.
At this high school I was able to accomplish this goal, I found out who my true friends are, who would really be there for me after I left for college. In high school you try to figure out what you want to do afterwards, even if you don’t that’s alright. Knowing what I wanted to since I was like six made it a lot easier.
That being said after high school, I’m going into criminal justice at Southern Illinois Carbondale. To be honest, as much as I liked being at RB meeting new people, making new friends and having amazing teachers, well for the most part, honestly I can’t wait to leave. At college it’s going to be different for many reasons, A LOT more people to meet, a much bigger campus, and I’m six – seven hours away from home.
I’ll never forget the memories I made at this school whether it be the sports I played, the funny stuff that my friends and I did. It’s the people that you will remember not the actions that happened. One main thing that I learned here is get ahead and stay ahead, never fall behind.
Senior Goodbye: Charlie Connelly
Before entering high school, I was made aware of every single high school cliche under the sun. Having to get work done “at the eleventh hour”, knowing that effort and result is a mutual relationship, and the overused “don’t blink” all seemed like vacant axioms to the then naive impending freshman that I was. We all enter new chapters of our life with a sort of swagger that exudes overconfidence, when in reality we should understand that cliches and their implications exist for a reason.
Today, I sit in front of this keyboard a now humbled senior, well versed in the intricacies of the high school experience all thanks to those that have helped me reach my utmost potential. The staff here at RB has not only guided me up the proverbial “ladder of success” academically, but have in the process, formed some of the most meaningful relationships I have ever had in my life. These teachers, Mr. Forberg, Mr. Dignan, Mrs. Cassens, and Mr. Beasley to name a few, have not only been my educators, but they have been my altruistic mentors, making me feel as if I could do anything I truly put my mind to. As teachers have touched my life in ways I never thought possible, so have the peers I can now call friends for life. The relationships that I have built here at RB surpass anything that I could have ever anticipated, and I am nothing but thankful for those inseparable bonds.
In the modern, social-media world, everyone is immensely consumed with the overwhelming notion that their voice reigns supreme–that their metaphorical “footprint” is one that should be remembered. For myself, I would much rather stay away from such vanity. As I leave high school, I wish not to be remembered for any grand moment of popularity. I simply want to be remembered as the guy that was there for the modest acts–like a smile in the halls when somebody needed it.
While I can’t say that I have escaped the cliches that umbrella the high school experience, I can say with confidence that my high school experience was certainly atypical in the best of ways–and I will forever be in debt to those who made that possible, because it certainly wasn’t me.
To quote W.C Fields,”If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bull.” In my time here at RB, everyone may be under the assumption that I accomplished the former, however I am certain I mastered the latter.