This year's Editors, senior Brooke Colombo, senior Keegan Williams, and junior Megan Lin pose for a picture together with their awards from the Wingspan banquet.

Keegan Williams

Leaving the nest, Wingspan’s leaders say goodbye

June 1, 2018

It’s the end of an era for Wingspan’s three editors-in-chief as they embark on new paths. Overseeing one of the most successful high school publications in the country, seniors Brooke Colombo and Keegan Williams, and junior Megan Lin helped lead the way to a multitude of honors including the 2018 NSPA Online Pacemaker, a 2018 CSPA Digital Gold Crown, and a 2018 ILPC Gold Star. Now on the final day of the school year, they say goodbye.

Spending all four years of high school as part of choir and journalism, senior editor-in-chief Brooke Colombo writes that saying goodbye isn't as easy as she anticipated.

Spending all four years of high school as part of choir and journalism, senior editor-in-chief Brooke Colombo writes that saying goodbye isn't as easy as she anticipated.

Wade Glover

Wade Glover

Spending all four years of high school as part of choir and journalism, senior editor-in-chief Brooke Colombo writes that saying goodbye isn't as easy as she anticipated.

Ready for my next chapter

Graduation is Saturday, and I’ve never felt more ready to start the next chapter of my life as I pursue journalism at the University of North Texas. However, as the days dwindle down, I’ve found myself reflecting more and more on my high school experience. If freshman, sophomore, or junior me had been asked “aren’t you going to miss high school?” it would’ve been a definitive no, but I’ve found I’m a lot more emotional about it than I ever thought I would be.

For the past four years, I’ve dedicated myself to choir and Wingspan. I met so many amazing people through these programs and had such great opportunities because of my involvement in them. My choir director Bruce Stevenson, and newspaper adviser Brian Higgins, have been extremely influential throughout some of the most formative years of my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful. And the hardest thing is that you can go almost an entire year not thinking much about leaving, but as you’re on your last school trip with your program, your last banquet, your last class even writing this, I’m starting to realize this will be the last thing I ever write for the site the reality suddenly sinks in.

Without the help of hindsight, I can’t currently say that I’m going to miss all of high school, but I know for certain that I will always cherish the people and memories from these programs. It’s difficult to conceptualize that there are friends I may never see again or experiences that will never again be a possibility. I’m not going to get on my soapbox and say that you shouldn’t wish away high school, because that would make me a hypocrite, but it is important to appreciate the good and the bad that occurred during high school. After all, they shape you as a person.

I’ve learned so many important life lessons in the past four years, like how to deal with failure, rejection, heartbreak, and conflict, and public high school is probably one of the best environments to teach those lessons. But I’ve outgrown this period of my life, and while it’s genuinely emotional for me to leave so much behind, I’m excited to move and grow and learn more about myself and the world as I enter college.

I just want to emphasize how thankfully I am for all that’s been afforded to me and the wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with. I believe that every moment I’ve been through thus far has set me up to fulfill my purposes in life, and that is something truly invaluable.

Wingspan's Keegan Williams takes a selfie with McConaughey after an interview.

Wingspan's Keegan Williams takes a selfie with McConaughey after an interview.

Roy Nitzan

Roy Nitzan

Wingspan's Keegan Williams takes a selfie with McConaughey after an interview.

My favorite thing

Wow. It’s actually over. I honestly never thought this day would come as I sat through my first classes at the school my freshman year, but it’s finally time to move on as I head up to Norman in August to study journalism at the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

If I take a few steps back and look at my high school years as a whole, I can say with certainty that these weren’t the best years of my life. But if I zoom in a little bit I can see that there were some parts that I really did enjoy.

I’m not going to lie, I was pretty well known throughout the school, as I threw myself into a lot of things that put a name to my face. Whether that be at center court as the emcee of every pep rally, or being on the field with a megaphone trying to extract what little school spirit I could from the fans in the stands, or me once again with a microphone (I’m not sure why they continued to give me tools to make me louder when I’m perfectly capable of being loud on my own) on stage at lunch making announcements for StuCo, or last but not least, being known as “that girl from Wingspan” which was by far my favorite way to be recognized.

Sure I was involved in a lot, but Wingspan was my favorite. I’ve loved every second of it since my first day of sophomore year, it was 4A and I stepped into C102 for the first time. I remember everything about that first class, as it marked the beginning of what may be the rest of my life, and the day I met one of the greatest people on this planet, our adviser, Brian Higgins.

The culture that is Wingspan is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced within a school, and honestly, I can’t give anyone else credit except for Mr. Higgins. When I walked through the doors that first day, it was his first day too, and he set a precedent that would essentially change my life.

Wingspan is more than just journalism- I mean sure that’s 95 percent of it- but it’s community, it’s family, it’s diversity, it’s acceptance and so much more. I have learned how to be a better person, how to be genuine and open and loving because that’s what you get when you walk into that room. The staff is always smiling and laughing and helping each other, and on your bad days, they are there to pick you up.

As I sit here writing this, I think back on all of the memories I have with all of the friends I’ve made throughout high school, and the ones that come to mind all revolve around Wingspan. From the long hours spent working on the update or stories, to the trips to San Antonio and San Francisco, and from the countless awards that show our dedication to the publication, to the countless memories that show our dedication to each other, this is the only thing I’ll miss from high school.

Wingspan staff, you showed me what being a real journalist means, and I can’t thank you enough for the opportunities you’ve given me, that allow me to be the best I can be, I will be forever grateful.

As I close this, I leave you with a little secret: I told everyone that I wasn’t coming to school the last week because “I’m a senior and I don’t want to so I don’t have to,” but the reality is, I didn’t come because I couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye to my favorite thing, thank you for giving me something to be a part of that is bigger than anything I could ever be alone.

Leaving Liberty at the end of her junior year, editor-in-chief Megan Lin is pursuing her career in music by attending the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Leaving Liberty at the end of her junior year, editor-in-chief Megan Lin is pursuing her career in music by attending the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Melody Tavallaee

Melody Tavallaee

Leaving Liberty at the end of her junior year, editor-in-chief Megan Lin is pursuing her career in music by attending the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Leaving early

It’s the most glorious time of the year, when seniors bask in the glory of being freed from the chains of high school while underclassmen celebrate the long awaited summer break. And even though I’m a junior, I’m saying goodbye early, as I leave to start a new chapter in the epic that is called life. In the fall, I’m attending the Cleveland Institute of Music to get a head start on my music education while finishing my senior year of high school in a totally different state.

But all dramatics aside, it’s been a great journey, not just as a part of Wingspan, but also as a student here. I’ve discovered and learned a lot of things that now shape the way I see the world, others, and myself.

Wingspan has been one of my few greatest dedications, and it has rewarded me with beyond just a title. I’ve met great friends that I’ll miss terribly. Friends often come and go, but that’s sometimes not a bad thing. It just means that people’s paths diverge, and that we’re meant to meet different people. Relationships aren’t meant to last forever, but the memories associated with them are.

I’ve learned that teamwork is one of the important skills in life, up there with the cliche “responsibility” and “respect”. And as evidenced by our many accolades, success is never achieved alone. Don’t push away people that want to help, and don’t push away people that care. We’re all working towards the same thing.

And as we’re surrounded by political turmoil, polarization of social media, and disagreement at every turn, I encourage those that I leave behind to listen more to others than yourself. Our conflicts and misunderstandings too often stem from isolating and locking ourselves in a bubble of our own thoughts. We can’t allow them to deny us of connections to each other, connections that can lessen the hostility we face every day.

And as we grow into adults, we have to take greater responsibility in a nation where “alternative facts” and “fake news” are now everyday terms. As American historian Deborah Lipstadt, now well-known in her fight against Holocaust denial, said in a TED Talk, “Truth is not relative”. We have the responsibility as a generation to be unapologetic in challenging “edgy” opinions. Our disagreements happen because we cannot even agree on what the facts are. Many things are debatable, but the facts are not. We have freedom of speech, but that freedom shouldn’t be abused to spread lies and falsehoods.

And lastly, I implore students, teachers, young and old alike, to never lose your compassion. We cannot function as a society as people, if we turn a blind eye to others’ battles, especially if they are so clearly begging for help. We may all look different, face different adversities, struggle in different ways, but we all bleed the same blood, and we share the same heart that keeps us all alive.

Every day is a new chance to expand our hearts and reach new heights. We have to help each other reach those heights, and enjoy the climb up along the way. I hope everyone will be lucky enough to gain those experiences as I have. I owe many debts to many people for the opportunities given to me, and I hope to repay them by living fully.

1 Comment

One Response to “Leaving the nest, Wingspan’s leaders say goodbye”

  1. Brian Higgins on June 2nd, 2018 10:54 pm

    Keegan:Making the transition from a broadcast student to an online newspaper student isn’t easy, except you made it look exceptionally so. Forcing you to do an online sports story at the end of your sophomore year, you didn’t blink, you simply did the work and got the job done. From there, you took over the sports section your junior year and ensured we had new content virtually every day. It’s why naming you an editor-in-chief your senior year was such an easy choice. Each year your journalism skills improved as did your leadership. Already equipped with an engaging personality, you have everything it takes to be a success in journalism. Thank you for helping making Wingspan all that it is.

    Brooke:From a newspaper staff of four your sophomore year and the end of the “potty press” to a staff of more than 20 and an online site in which content is posted daily, you have witnessed and helped oversee a site that averages more than 370,000 pages views per school year. But more importantly than that, is the growth I have seen in you. From a reporter who I had to talk into continuing with the program after her sophomore year, to being an unquestioned leader that always kept me entertained, I can’t wait to see what is next for you. Thank you for all that you have done. You are mature beyond your years, a gifted storyteller and somebody who is bound for success.

    Megan: I keep hoping you’re going to tell me this is all some big prank and you’re really not going to leave Liberty early. But that’s my wish, not my reality. As awesome as you have been as a editor-in-chief, you are even more amazing when it comes to playing the violin. I know that is what you should be pursuing and I have total faith that you will do it at a high level. However, it probably doesn’t matter what you do, as you are destined to be a success in whatever endeavors life has in store for you. Thank you for signing up for Journalism 1 and thank you for deciding to continue on with Wingspan for two more years. You are a phenomenal student, an incredible person, and a musical prodigy; I am proud to have been your teacher.

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