“A cluttered desk and unanswered emails”: a quick thank you for a wonderful year

A quick thank you to the senior group, and to all who made the HS what is has become


The last all-staff of the year in May 2021

Sherm, Adviser

It’s 2:31 p.m. on the last Friday of the 2020-2021 academic year, and I’m still sitting in my classroom with multiple kids working, reviewing Holly Spirit pieces when I should be packing up my classroom or getting ready to pick up my two sons from daycare downstairs. My desk is covered in random papers — some of which I’m sure are important — and I and struggling to keep up with emails and grading. My Monday is already full of meetings and I have to head out to get stuff for our end of the year party this weekend.

This scene is pretty much the metaphor for what this year has been like. Amid pandemics, particularly divisive elections, motherhood and marriage, teaching and advising, my year has been a cluttered desk and unanswered emails. I know for a fact that I was not the best teacher I could have been, which I will chalk up to the nightmare that was virtual/hybrid teaching, but I do know that I tried harder than I ever have.

The revival of the Holly Spirit has been a passion project of mine for over a year. When I was approached about it a few years ago, I knew exactly what direction I wanted to go in. As a former student journalist who has written for award-winning publications like the A-blast of Annandale High School, the Bullet (now the Blue and Gray Press) of the University of Mary Washington and the Cavalier Daily of the University of Virginia, I knew I wanted to create something that would outlast my tenure here at RV, something that students would want to join, something that teachers would want to read. My journalism philosophy has always been student-centered; I want my students to create something for their peers.

I knew I wanted to create something that would outlast my tenure here at RV, something that students would want to join, something that teachers would want to read.

The inaugural group of Holly Spirit writers, particularly the senior editorial class, has exceeded my wildest hopes in terms of what I wanted to create. They took my plans and ran with them, creating systems and ideas that will also outlast them and their time here. More importantly, they launched their journalism careers in a time when the press has been vilified and attacked for telling the truth. The Holly Spirit has not avoided this attack on journalism, but we have been fortunate enough to have the support of an incredible administration and the passion of student journalists who have not waivered in the name of informing and educating the student body.

I hope that all of them continue to pursue journalism and writing in their college careers. All of them are going to prestigious institutions with student newspapers, and many have voiced this interest. I also hope that this experience has been as rewarding for them as it has been for me. Cluttered desks and unanswered emails aside, I have thoroughly, honestly and genuinely loved this work.

The last senior Editorial staff meeting, June 2021

To the administration, especially Mr. Joseph, Mr. Martin, Mr. Connolly and Dr. Heilig, this paper would not exist without your unending support. To know that you always have our back, that you support our writing (even when it is critical) and that you encourage our writers to take risks, we are thankful. I know of very few other schools that have the kind of relationship we have with our administration. Mr. Martin must have done about 76,924,730 interviews this year alone, and Dr. Heilig always made time for us. Mr. Joseph got our feet off the ground, and Mr. Connolly’s patience with my panicked emails and phone calls is much appreciated, as is his wisdom and support.

To my phenomenal writers, Emily, Dana and Maham, you have made waves with your work. Please continue writing in college.

To my SUPs, Brendan and Hoagie, you both had a crazy year that cut into your positions — thank you for persevering and not getting us sued.

To my sections editors, Sara, Tanner, Reese, Abigail, and Madison, you have created systems that we will try to maintain in the coming years. You have set the bar high, and I only hope we can continue to meet the levels of success you have created.

To my managing editors, Alex and Ash, I am beyond thankful for you. You may not be front and center, but your contributions in terms of organization, management, communication and generally not making me want to murder everyone cannot be understated. Thank you.

And to my EICs, Ham and Shea. When I put this project together, I always had the two of you in mind. No one else could do what you have done; this paper is what it is because of the two of you and the time, effort and passion you put into it. I only hope you both know how incredibly bright and amazing the two of you truly are.

And to the guest writers, community members, parents, teachers and readers here in Mt. Holly and across the nation (we love seeing how our stuff is read in, like, Dubai and somewhere in the bush of Australia every once in awhile): from the bottom of my heart, thank you.