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The final week of freshman year was finally upon us. After I was accepted onto the Harbinger staff as a photographer, I walked nervously into the library for an introductory meeting with the rest of the 2013-2014 Harbinger members.
“Okay, say your name, your position, and… your guilty pleasure music artist,” Katie Knight and Andrew McKittrick, the editors at the time, asked everyone to do.
While listening to everyone introduce themselves, I tried to think of something to say that wouldn’t make me sound incredibly lame to a room full of mostly upperclassmen. Soon enough, all of the intimidating older kids turned to look at me.
With a beet-red face and shaky voice, I managed to mumble, “I’m Callie McPhail, I’m a staff photographer, and my guilty pleasure music artist is Hillary Duff.”
They laughed, but not in a taunting or mean way. It was friendly. It was an accepting environment, an environment I had a feeling I was going to enjoy.
Now the final week of senior year is among us, and it hasn’t hit me that it’s really happening, that I am really graduating. And unfortunately, the end of high school means that the most influential experience during my time at East is over as well – my time as a member of the Harbinger.
I had no clue what to expect when I joined this staff. I can’t even pinpoint the reason that I applied in the first place. But once I started investing my time into such a wonderful publication, I realized why so many people thought the infamous “J-Room” was so special.
What I found out is that it is much more than a crummy old classroom with a questionable scent. It’s a safe place, a haven. The cozy work space and funny quotes were comforting. The obnoxiously loud music and the people singing along, off-key, were things about this program that I wanted to be around.
It was the place where people in each grade from every clique in the school could work together to accomplish one common goal. It was the place I knew no one would judge me if I was skipping English to edit photos, because they probably did the same thing the day before. It was the place where I was comfortable admitting that I listen to Hilary Duff. It was the place that made me feel like I truly belonged, and for that, I am forever grateful.