A new way of seeing RV: Holly Spirit seniors sign off

“A new way of seeing RV”: Holly Spirit seniors sign off

The graduating class of 2024 started RV during a global pandemic and was forced to experience RV in a completely new and different way. Now, they’re about to walk around the track for the final time.
Going forth to serve: McKenna Gaskins, Editor in Chief
“Going forth to serve”: McKenna Gaskins, Editor in Chief

How does one properly say goodbye to such a formative part of their life? I’ve never been all that good with change, especially not with goodbyes; I avoid both as much as possible. So how can I possibly fit all I have to say into one letter? As I sit here reflecting on my four years at RV, a singular phrase tumbles around the corners of my mind; “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.” The one phrase that truly encapsulates the ever changing experiences of schooling, the forward moving cycle that we all must take to reach our futures.  

When I entered, or shall I say “entered,” RV just under four years ago, I was absolutely terrified. Escaping the small island that was my elementary school and moving into such a large pool of new faces was exciting, necessary, and horrifying. Sitting behind that screen, alone in my room, I had no idea how much the next four years would hold, so much happiness and so much pain. It was hard to imagine the experiences I’d have and the friends I’d make when the most interaction I got was chatting in breakout rooms for group projects. Academically I was learning, but socially I was stunted. My only outlets? Music and Holly Spirit.

Both programs became my homes at RV. Freshman year me was so scared I’d never meet anyone, never make those connections that you see in the movies, but Holly Spirit, marching band, and the performing arts are where I found my place. High school was much less scary coming into sophomore year because I had people; I had Sherm, my desk, marching band, and for the first time in a while, the opportunity to socialize with my classmates. It felt like I was officially in high school, finally learning and living how I was set to, how I had imagined. I had big dreams and so much time ahead of me to conquer those dreams. I had no idea how fast that time would go.

Now here I am, three years later, wishing I could go back. Back to experience the positive things, to warn myself of the negative. To spend more time in the good moments, cherish my positive memories, really soak in my time. To tell myself to study a little harder for that test, to spend a little more time on that article, to practice that piece just a little longer. I’ve come so far, met all of my goals, and somehow I’m still not ready to say goodbye. To accept that it’s all coming to an end. To “go forth and serve.” 

The funniest part of this cycle of life is that here I’ll be again, in just a few months, that same scared freshman, entering a new home awaiting new memories and new experiences that will form me as a person. But this time, I’m going into it with a wealth of knowledge and experience that I didn’t have before. I’ve gained so much and yet lost so much, especially this past year. But I know it’s made me a better person, taught me so many hard lessons that will only serve me better in the future.

I am more than grateful for the experiences RV has given me, both inside the classroom and out. The connections I’ve made, the passions I’ve discovered; I’ve really started to be able to understand myself and what I want to be. I think high school was never truly about the learning I did in the classroom; I entered to learn about myself and who I want to be.

Thank you Sherm. Thank you Holly Spirit. Thank you RV performing Arts. Thank you to all of my wonderful teachers and mentors. Thank you to those who have helped me succeed and also to those who have shown me that in this life I only truly need to believe in myself to succeed. Thank you to the connections I’ll keep and especially to those I’ve lost. And most importantly, thank you RV. I entered to learn, and now it’s my time to serve.

And while I enter to learn a new chapter of my life, I this time take with me the memories and lessons from the last chapter. So maybe I’m not saying goodbye really. Maybe it’s more of a hello. Hello to the terrifyingly open future before me, and thank you to the painfully beautiful past I both leave behind and take with me. Hello post-grad world, here I come.


Whats the rush?: Isaiah Dupree, Editor in Chief
“What’s the rush?”: Isaiah Dupree, Editor in Chief

 One of the few things that hasn’t changed about me since freshman year is my love for The Roots. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve only learned to appreciate their music more and further apply its principles to my life. My favorite song of theirs is “One Time” – I can’t recommend it enough if you haven’t heard it. The lyric from that song that’s stuck with me most is the question posed by Dice Raw in the chorus:

“I was always late for the bus, just once can I be on time?

Then I start to think, what’s the rush? Who wants to be on time?”

I know it sounds tired, but 4 years ago I would have never imagined that I’d be the editor-in-chief of my school newspaper. I was never taught to embrace anything humanities related growing up – I wasn’t even on the paper my freshman year. Going into high school, I had wholly believed that a STEM career was the path for me. Or rather, my dad told me that a STEM career was the path for me. Nothing not in the STEM field seemed worth my time, especially this paper.

It’s part of the reason I was so apprehensive about joining the paper when Sherm strongly suggested (read: demanded) that I join the paper sophomore year. Because the one thing I hated more than writing was admitting when I was wrong. Honestly, it’s still something I struggle with today. If I joined the newspaper and loved it, I’d have to admit that I was wrong for never giving the humanities a fair chance. Deep down, I think I knew that I’d been too narrow-minded about my academic interests in the past – but I’d rather have lived in blissful ignorance of what I was missing out on than admit that I was missing out on anything at all. 

Eventually, I joined the paper to at least say that I tried. While writing my first few articles, I encountered a new struggle. The more I wrote, the more I learned. The more I learned, the dumber I felt, because I was only learning how much I still had left to learn. In a way, this learning made me uncomfortable – I’d have rather not learned anything and thought I’d been right all along than change my thinking and admit my faults. I eventually fell in love with journalism, but couldn’t shake the sort of shame I felt from feeling I’d been wrong about so much for all these years before. It unnerved me – I thought that if I wasn’t confident in my plans for the future or my beliefs back then, then I never would be. I felt that I’d never be “on time.”

It wasn’t until junior year that I learned to embrace wrongness. I don’t want to turn this letter into a sob story, but my life fell apart last year when I lost my mother to cancer. It turned my world upside down in some of the worst ways possible but also changed the way I viewed myself and the world around me. My mom taught me a lot; the thing she tried to instill in me the most before she left was that life is far too short to worry about being perfect. She was always someone who wore her faults on her sleeve. I really began to embrace this mindset as I began approaching adulthood and college. Learning to accept that I will never be perfect is the best thing I’ve ever done. 

This school year has been the most fulfilling school year of my life. Growing as a person is much easier when you aren’t concerned with perfection. It’s also been the most important school year of my life. These past 9 months have taught me more than the first 3 years of high school combined. I found my true passion in language and linguistics (I previously couldn’t stand language classes; I thought I’d never sound like a native speaker, so why even bother?) and I realized how much I was holding myself back by aiming to live a life devoid of mistakes. I’m so glad that I got to where I am today. Even though it took me nearly all of high school and a lot of trial and error, I’m thrilled that I’ve found what I’m truly passionate about. And if that changes again during college, or after I graduate, or keeps changing for the rest of my life, I’ll be even more thrilled.

To those reading this: Don’t be afraid to mess up; your mistakes are what make you human. Being right will never teach you as much as being wrong will. Nobody has it all figured out, no matter how much some people will try to convince you. But if you tie yourself up in the idea that nothing imperfect is worth doing, you’ll never get anywhere. 

That’s why that Roots lyric stands out to me so much. Who cares if you aren’t “on time”? Would you have rather not arrived at all?


The world is yours: Mya Collins, Managing Editor
“The world is yours”: Mya Collins, Managing Editor

My very first high school memory is of me logging into Mr. Britton’s Music Theory I Google Meet at 8AM. Sitting prim and proper at my desk trying to keep my volume down so as to not disturb my sister in class across the hall characterized my freshman year at RV. Life became a perpetual cycle of meaningless assignments and lost connections as I learned from the four walls of my bedroom. It wasn’t until I joined the Holly Spirit that I felt like I had a purpose in life again. 

Similar to all other clubs that I’ve joined, my Mom encouraged me to give the school newspaper a try once news broke out about its relaunch. I was hesitant to join having been a shy freshman who had yet to talk to anyone besides my friend Paige whom I experienced everything with in elementary and middle school. Nevertheless, Moms are never wrong (certainly not mine), so with a leap of faith I took her advice and it was undoubtedly one of the most defining decisions of my high school career. 

I quickly became enraptured in an environment that motivated me to hone in on my passion for writing and report on what truly matters in the world. We often take written communication for granted when it holds incredible power in reshaping narratives and building stronger relationships rooted in understanding within communities. I fell in love with journalism and even more so with the seniors who built the Holly Spirit from the ground up.

Joining the newspaper ultimately opened new doors for me that I would’ve never stepped through had I not been pulled out of my shell freshman year. I vividly remember opening my email to an invitation to join the Red Oak Yearbook Staff from Mrs. Pugliese, and of course I was yet again hesitant to join, and yet again my Mom encouraged me to keep pushing myself to try new things. There are not enough words in the world to articulate the profound impact that Yearbook has had on me during high school, and my love for journalism only grew. 

My experience in Yearbook was certainly not exempt from bumps in the road, but it truly taught me invaluable lessons about the impact of leadership and just being a great human being. It can be easy to get wrapped up in the optics of leadership and the significance of a title, but in actuality, there is a leader in everyone regardless of what title is attached to their name. I am eternally grateful for the family that Yearbook has brought me, and my experience would not have been possible without the foundation that the newspaper laid down for me. 

As my senior year comes to an end, I am proud to say that I can look back on my time at RV with admiration. I have beautiful memories to recount with countless people who have all made my moments Our Moments.

To the Holly Spirit, thank you for challenging me to be a better writer and a better person. Thank you for bringing me my best friend and for instilling in me the value of being the best person you can be. To the next generation of writers, as proud as I am to have been a part of this club, I am even prouder of you and what you will accomplish. The world is yours. 

Forever grateful: Maggie Blackburn, Managing Editor
“Forever grateful”: Maggie Blackburn, Managing Editor

I’ve always loved to write. Whether it be creatively through short stories and poems, or formally in English classes, I’ve always loved to write. Writing has been an outlet for me, a staple in my life that never faltered.

I joined The Holly Spirit halfway through my freshman year when my friend called me for a quote for an article she was writing about hybrid learning. Before this call, I hadn’t realized our school had a newspaper, but immediately knew I wanted to get involved. Journalism was a form of writing that I had no experience with, but something I knew I would be interested in none the less. 

I began to join weekly google meets and was immediately hooked, anticipating what article I would be assigned to write, excited for what came next. What came next for me ended up being Assistant Editor of the Arts & Culture Section my sophomore year, Section Editor my junior year, and finally Managing Editor my senior year. The Holly Spirit has become a sort of scrapbook, capturing my growth as not only a writer, but as a person. 

However, I know that in my time in high school, what has contributed the most to my individual growth is my grandmother. My grandmother was my biggest fan, especially when it came to my writing. She shared every poem, every newspaper article, every accomplishment of mine on her Facebook page. The way she talked about her granddaughter, “the journalist,” you would have thought I was writing for The New York Times. I lost my grandmother to cancer during my sophomore year, and it changed my outlook on my high school experience, and on what is to come in my future. I have learned a lot about gratitude, and am forever grateful for RV. 

Looking back at the scared freshman I was four years ago, who struggled to make friends with profile pictures on google meets, I am proud of how far I have come. I remain proud of all of the work I have produced, as well as everything my peers have produced and accomplished. 

Stepping into an unknown world: August Hobbs, News Editor
“Stepping into an unknown world”: August Hobbs, News Editor

During my time at RV, I have come to appreciate a lot of things. What I’ve come to appreciate most is my time on the Holly Spirit. Being on the Holly Spirit has helped me meet so many amazing people who are just as passionate about journalistic writing as I am. These people have taught me so much and I like to think that I was able to teach them something too. My time on the Holly Spirit has also given me experience in writing about important news and events and learning more in-depth about journalism. I am very thankful for the staff writers, section editors, managing editors, editors-in-chief, and Sherm for not only making this paper possible but also fun.

I started on the paper my sophomore year and I remember going to the first interest meeting after spending my freshman year online. I felt like I was stepping into an unknown world. I was interested in joining so many of the clubs RV had to offer, but the one I wanted to join the most was the Holly Spirit. I would have never known that joining this club would go on to shape my high school experience in the best ways.

To anyone interested in joining the Holly Spirit, I would suggest that you go for it. Even if you have no experience with journalism or are not very confident in your writing skills there are plenty of resources to help you. There are many online resources to help you understand how to write like a journalist as well as the people on the paper who would be more than willing to help out others for the betterment of the paper.

I am very proud of all the things I’ve done in my 4 years at RV and I hope to be remembered for all that I have accomplished here. The impact I have made in the clubs I have been a part of like BSU, Italian Club, Key Club and are some of the things I am most proud of. I am also proud of the friends I have made and how I have been able to grow as a person in my time at RV.

I am excited to begin the next chapter of my life and take everything I have learned at RV with me. Good luck to everyone and I can’t wait to see all the great things that you will do.


Take time to enjoy life: Adrienne Austin, Sports Editor
“Take time to enjoy life”: Adrienne Austin, Sports Editor

It’s no surprise that I joined the Holly Spirit Freshman year. Journalism was the very first class I signed up for. At the time, I knew nothing about Journalism besides it was my Dad’s favorite club back in high school. I had no clue why he urged me so hard to join, especially due to my lack in social skills. It was not until now, my senior year, that I realized that the newspaper has set the platform for my successful and happy high school experience, and I will be grateful for the Holly Spirit forever. 

Being able to rise from staff writer, to assistant editor, to sports editor has instilled me with a great confidence. It allowed me to take risks and trust in my own ability to show off my skills. This confidence has allowed me to apply for and become the secretary of the National Honors Society and captain of the track team. 

Additionally, the Holly Spirit has given me valuable communication skills that I desperately needed. Coming in as a freshmen, I avoided all conversation, especially being confined to a mask. But starting to interview, especially sports coverage interviews, helped me to start conversations with people confidently. 

Being on the sports desk specifically has helped me feel so close and connected with RV, and has allowed me to feel that true sense of RV Pride. Doing research and staying up to date with all of the RV sports news has allowed me to get to know so many amazing people and has grown my love for sports as a whole. 

Writing for sports has also allowed me to give the much needed recognition, attention, and love for women’s sports and I will always continue to advocate for fellow female athletes. 

As I continue on to my future endeavors I will always remember where I came from, and the valuable experiences that high school has brought me. RV contains some of my fondest memories, closest friends, biggest achievements, and biggest life lessons. As I will be sad to let it go, I am grateful for the foundation it has given me for the rest of my life. 

I would give new writers and incoming freshmen the advice to make the most of your time at RV. Talk to new people, join new clubs, take risks, and push yourself to be the best student, friend, and person you can possibly be. High school moves incredibly fast, so take time to enjoy this valuable period of your life while you still have it. 


Seek a wide variety of paths: Allison Bonaventura, Opinions Editor
“Seek a wide variety of paths”: Allison Bonaventura, Opinions Editor

Presently, I gaze toward the past while vaulting unsteadily forward over the monumental mountains each pulling my priorities to conflicting directions. That is it. The finale of the year, and the set of four years, for which this final stretch in the journey will solidify into a capsule in time. That gaze fixates momentarily on each moment which molded the soon graduate of Rancocas Valley Regional High School. She arrived as a Covid-19 middle school graduate from Lumberton Middle School, with few friends and no passions.

Now, I exit, as gracefully as one can after all the struggle, as an Honors Roll student, a member of the National Honor Society and the English National Honors Society, as a well-loved friend and most notably as a published writer both for the Inklings Literary Magazine and, more relevant and vastly more significant, the Holly Spirit. 

Happening upon the paper by chance from desiring to fill an elective with a non tech-based class, I selected, instead, Mrs. Sherman’s Journalism class and received a prompt invitation to join the paper. Across my time on the page, beginning in my Sophomore year, as an Opinions staff writer, I developed an intense passion for curating written words in an ethical manner in order to call out, commentate and develop ideas of the world.

From that, I moved through the Assistant Editor position on the Opinions desk in my Junior year and into the Editor position for the same section this past year. Working alongside a variety of writers of differing ages, education levels and grade levels I encouraged their desires to grow as a writer: the entire desk outputting a variety of successful, intricate pieces over the years. 

Although not always at the forefront of my priorities, the work and knowledge I’ve gained from both the Holly Spirit and Mrs. Sherman herself greatly influenced my future plans in college. I plan to continue writing and learning literature, society, linguistics, ethics and philosophy by any means available to me in an effort to present to audiences arguments of understandings to the nuances and complexities of our chaotic world.

With such a niche yet wide reaching interconnection of subjects, I hope to encourage others to seek a wide variety of paths, common or uncommon, to bind them into a creative new something tailored to their unique desires. Both to new writers and those who wish they would never write again, I advise that, though impossible to find complete individuality due to all of the agents of socialization tying us to conformity, make every effort to reject society’s perception of you. Leave your high school education with some semblance of understanding of your passions and joys and somewhere along your lifetime the ability to pursue anything of your niche desires will arise. No matter whether you follow the narrative path society generated to seek higher education then to find a long-term career, combine your interests to craft yourself as an individual that cannot be replicated.

I thank RVRHS for my mentality and those who gave me opportunities to shape it. The challenges, duress, many times overreached the enjoyment; however, I am grateful nonetheless for the students and staff I’ve cherished over my four years: I wish you all farewell.

Cliché, but true: TraSean Nichols, Arts & Culture Editor
“Cliché, but true”: Tra’Sean Nichols, Arts & Culture Editor

Coming into high school I wasn’t sure of the person I was going to be, and looking back, I can’t recognize the person I once was. Extremely cliche but this ideology could not be more true to my experience in high school. 

Leaving my middle school, there was nothing more I wanted than to be a high school student. I grew envious of my older sister as she was basically living my dream. Now, a senior finishing in two days, the only thing I want is to leave this behind.

It’s hard to grow as a person. It takes a lot of mental strength to endure the journey of becoming someone different than you once knew, and in some cases the world will present itself with challenges to truly test your dedication to this journey. My senior year stood as one of the most mentally deteriorating experiences of my life. I no longer came to school happy. I walked the hallways for months with a grim look on my face, struggling to survive the day ahead of me. By no means was I depressed or like chronically sad, I was drained from the things going on around me. It was a struggle moving throughout my year in this continuous cycle, as more things began to obstruct the path of my life. 

Everything I did in school began to feel like an uphill battle. Doing homework for classes, going to tennis practice, or even writing for the newspaper, a club I easily learned to love my sophomore year faded as if my passion to keep up with these things suddenly disappeared. These things that once brought me happiness now only felt as if I was doing it for someone else. 

Going through this time was by no means easy, and as I’m writing this I still struggle with some of this to a lower degree but it was a time that I feel like I needed to endure. The once materialistic mindset I possessed going into to school warped into a new more understanding one. I learned to find the value in things for myself, rather than the value that people label on things themselves. This may seem not related in the slightest, but the things I did, the clubs and activities I once loved started to have value in my life again. Seeing people who are so close you almost leave your life truly changes your perspective on things. I learned how to enjoy the time I have with the people I have and yes, cliche again, but it’s something that took me to truly learn and appreciate. 

Leaving high school, I do want to thank the clubs I’ve been a part of, the friends I made, and the communities I helped build. Clubs like Holly Spirt allowed me the space I needed to grow as a person and express myself through a new medium, while also giving me some bonus points for college applications. I don’t know where I would be without this club, and the many others I’ve been a part of but I think the person who would have been the result of that would be similar to the person who was finishing out his 8th grade year. 

This year may have truly sucked for me, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way…cliche I know, but it’s true.

A person I am proud of: Marley Stutzman, Staff Writer
“A person I am proud of”: Marley Stutzman, Staff Writer

“Hi! My name is Marley Stutzman, and I am a senior at RV.” 

I didn’t realize I was going to miss introducing myself like that until a few days ago. After the next few weeks, the second half of that sentence will be cut off, missing. I guess the period will have to go right after my last name or I’ll have to fill the gap. Why was something as simple as sentence structure the thing that hit me, the thing that made graduation change from an idea to a reality?

I guess it makes sense that grammar is the thing that really made my future set in – I’ve always had an affinity for words, I love to read and write, and it’s pretty fitting that I just finished my run as the Yearbook Editor-in-Chief and a writer for the Holly Spirit’s Student Life section. I find comfort in the way words can help you be so creative yet follow a certain set of rules. In a way, that’s kind of how you can describe RV, too: you follow a structure, but have the freedom to forge your own path within the walls of the school. It’s what makes RV so cool. 

RV is a special place. I know there are about 1,500 underclassmen who would probably disagree with me and complain that they have to come back next year, but as a senior who has been doing a lot of reflection lately, I can confidently say that there is no school I would have rather gone to. RV is the place that helped me write my own narrative and gave me the opportunity to thrive. 

Freshman Marley was a very different person than the one I am right now. She was shy, kind of awkward (literally what freshman isn’t), and really just wanted to make some new friends and have fun, given I had been sitting at home by myself the year before during Covid. Being at RV gave me the chance to turn into the person I wanted to be, just like the seniors I looked up to when I was in the grades below them. Now, I’m lucky enough to be the person I always wanted to turn into; I gained confidence, resilience, leadership skills, and an unbreakable positive outlook because of this school. 

Was every experience a great one? Not by a long shot, but I have so many great memories of this school so the good always outweighs the bad, and the bad taught me many valuable lessons that will continue to help me after high school. To any underclassmen reading this, my biggest piece of advice I can offer is to buy into the RV experience. Get involved, do everything you can, be a part of the community – you will learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible, and you might end up loving it (trust me, I know from experience). It may seem corny, but I don’t regret a moment of any of my experiences. 

Thank you, RV. Thank you for getting me involved. Thank you for introducing me to my best friends. Thank you for making me into a person I am proud of. Thank you for giving me your best, your worst, and four unforgettable years of laughs and memories. Thank you for being an integral part of my life. And an integral part of my personal introduction, of course. 

“Hi! My name is Marley Stutzman… and I am an RV alum.” 

Yeah. I like that. It has a nice ring to it. 

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