Letter from the Editor


Ashley McFadden, Editor-in-Chief

  When I joined the Occidentalist my sophomore year I had no idea what I was getting myself into. In reality, I only joined because I knew it would look good on my transcript. On our first day when Ms. Humphry asked us what position, if any, we would want to be considered for that year, I didn’t ask for one. I figured I just wanted to learn my first year and get to know the inner workings of journalism. It took me by surprise when I was suddenly sitting at the first editorial board meeting. It’s probably important to note that I had our advisor the previous year for freshman U.S. History so she already knew how I underestimated my abilities. That said, I am more than grateful that I was added to the select list.

  I made up my mind that I had would remain in the class through senior year, whether I liked it or not. Again, I knew colleges would see it and I thought that meant I would meet an expectation I had made up in my mind. However, not even a few months into sophomore year, I realized I actually enjoyed what I was doing. I was developing an affinity for writing, but editing especially. The first year on staff is always hard no matter what amount of journalism skills you have or how open you are to talking to strangers for a story. I was starting to find my purpose in high school.

  Then March 2020 came around, and we all know what happened after that.

  Junior year we were online for a large part of the school year and everyone who was there can attest that trying to write and print a physical newspaper is near impossible, but not completely because we managed to pull off four physical editions and one online version. Again, I was on the editorial board, but I was also a page designer now. I was quickly climbing ranks I didn’t think I would ever reach. That second year made a world of difference too. Alyssa Masiewicz was our new Editor-in-Chief and we had some new faces I was lucky enough to train. By the time we were designing the senior edition for the class of 2021, most of my peers (who I was still hesitant to fully call my friends) were commemorating over the fact that come that time next year it would be us writing our own names on the front page full of colleges. Newspaper was no longer about my transcript, in fact my counselor even tried to talk me out of taking the class again senior year. No, newspaper had become a safe place where I could grow my skills and be immersed in my school’s culture.

  Starting senior year was an unexpected change. I was asked to be a co-Editor-in-Chief. We started this website. We managed to print a full eight physical editions and upload fun stories on here simultaneously. I made some of the closest friends I’ve ever had.

  The memories we’ve been able to preserve in our words on the pages of our publication and all of the unseen memories created during late nights in the lab will be moments I cherish forever. Me and my fellow journalists have worked so incredibly hard on making these past few years and nineteen editions the best we could. I hope West has appreciated it as much as we have appreciated the wonderful people we have covered throughout the years.

  I want to say thank you to this years staff, especially my co-Editor Alyssa, our photo editor Ainsley Rosenburg, and the rest of the editorial board (just see page 2 of our 2022 senior edition to know how hard these wonderful people have worked). All of the 2021-2022 staff has pushed themselves to create amazing things for the student body. I know Alyssa and I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

  Finally, I want to thank our advisor, Ms. Humphry for believing in me and giving me the chance to finally get where I am today. These opportunities have given me critical skills I’ll always need going forward in life. They have opened me up to new view points and made me realize I don’t have to always be the quiet kid who just lets things happen to her. This class will always hold a special place in my heart for reasons I can’t even fully explain.

  To anyone thinking about joining newspaper, know that though it does take work, but the reward is so worth it. The sense of community you gain from a class like this one is incomparable.

  Thank you for a wonderful three years. I could not be more proud knowing what we have achieved and knowing we are handing this paper over to people who care equally as much as we do.

  Ashley Mcfadden, signing off for the final time.