Letter From the Editor: Looking Back on 2017-2018

Dylan Moran, Editor-in-Chief

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Reflecting on the school year of 2017-2018, Sayreville War Memorial High School bids farewell not only to the proudly graduating class of 2018, but to what I would call, without hyperbole, among one of the most impactful years in the school’s history. With classes for the year winding down – albeit with final exams still looming ahead, paired with the reprieve of graduation and a long-awaited summer vacation for the hard workers of Sayreville – it becomes clear in examining the student body that, above all, this year represented change for Sayreville: the school, the town, and every person within.

Once again, Sayreville has found itself – even if only for a brief moment in the grander scheme of our country – in the national spotlight, pinned at the epicenter of a movement that rocked the field of education to its very core and forged activists and free thinkers borne of students moved by a national call to action. Regardless of the side one takes in the complex political whirlwind surrounding Sayreville’s involvement in last March’s anniversary of the Parkland tragedy, above all else, it proved to be a trial that the student body would emerge from as true critical thinkers, forced to examine the role they play in a far grander system than one school or one town could ever handle alone. For better or worse, Sayreville found itself reminded that each and every one of us holds the potential to change the world around us – every one of us uniquely vital in making Sayreville what it is. We are, as a unified whole, reminded of not only our worth in the eyes of the world, but to ourselves – reminded that every day each and every one of us makes Sayreville a town we hope to be proud to call our home, and that Sayreville in turn should be proud to house each and every one of us.

Sayreville War Memorial High School, as it always has been in past, remains a microcosm for the state of our town – a testament to the fact that as even as so many students wander through the halls individually, as easily as athletes and thespians and scholars and activists can cross paths without a second glance to each other, we are all connected, and never alone. Whether it be through the comradery of our athletes as they look back on the fight through their seasons of rise and fall together, through the aspiring artists that enrich Sayreville in their creations from page to stage, through the support and tolerance of the school’s fledgling Gay-Straight Alliance/G.S.A. holding students together in solidarity – especially as we enter Pride Month – or through the simple understanding of one student reaching out to another, Sayreville proves its greatest strength lies in our unity. Each individual makes Sayreville stronger, and each departure is a loss to the whole – and as we approach the year’s end, we are forced to encounter a time of bittersweet departure. Echo Lites wishes the graduating class best of luck wherever the road ahead takes them, extends its fondest regards and sincerest thanks to the staff that has left our building this year and welcomes the newcomers that rise to continue their legacies, and hopes to honor those in our town – and even within our school – lost in this year, each and every one of whom will forever be deeply missed, and so long as Sayreville stands together, shall never be forgotten.

Looking back, speaking to my own experience, among the most personally moving changes I observed was here within this very paper – as this year, I had the honor of witnessing the online publication I aided in evolving from an experimental first year to a true reflection of Sayreville. I personally had the unmatched pleasure of bearing witness to moments that will stick with me for years to come, moments I have come to realize will go on to define the Sayreville of our futures – showcasing the founding and function of newfound clubs that would rally determined students to a common cause be it self-betterment, charity, or the simple pursuit of their passions, facing decision makers steering our town through thick and thin in the heat of intense controversy as equals to discuss what truly determines the fate of our school moving forward, celebrating the arts programs and athletic achievements that set Sayreville apart, and the grim duty of paying respects to educational inspirations no longer with us among the experiences that have shaped my view of journalism and its role in the larger picture of Sayreville War Memorial High.

Standing by to see the online paper from day one through two websites and two years, I’ve come to see that Echo Lites has changed just as much as everything else – and changed for the better. I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside talented aspiring journalists finding their feet in the regular output of media reviews and reflections through year one and watched these same writers push themselves forward with hard news covering politics, controversy, and earth-shattering change across Sayreville through every rise and fall that makes me proud to serve as this paper’s co-editor-in-chief, with an opportunity to see those rare few stories truly worth pouring one’s heart and soul into to relay back to the public and secure a place in our town’s history, no matter how long it takes, and no matter what it takes.

Looking back, I see a year of hard work and dedicated journalism that I would do a disservice to call anything but my proudest year with the Echo Lites – one I owe to every immensely gifted writer who, with every word, painted a picture of Sayreville both as it truly is and what it holds the limitless potential to be. This year – with every report harder and harder, each deserving all the time and effort we here at Echo Lites had to give it to assure each received the respect it deserved – I learned the meaning of journalistic integrity: standing by the truth and chasing it wherever it leads you, with a story worth telling in every passing day for those who have the will to look and the patience to address each as if it were the story of a lifetime. It stands as a lesson I owe to all of Sayreville – every student, faculty member, and citizen of our town – for showing me that where there’s a story to tell, there’s one worth telling right – and the story of Sayreville is one I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you, Sayreville, for my proudest year as Editor-in-Chief of the Echo Lites and for many years of reporting to come – and on behalf of Echo Lites, we look forward to seeing you all next year, where you can expect us wherever there’s news worth reporting – and as it turns out, that’s just about everywhere.