At our freshman orientation, we were given an overwhelming amount of advice. Memorize the bell schedules, figure out the hallways, learn how to open your locker—the list went on and on. Our guidance counselors gave us our schedules and endless stacks of paperwork. They also gave us a list of clubs and one piece of related advice: join them. Clubs, they told us, could be a hugely fulfilling part of your high school life; they could create friend groups, introduce you to undiscovered passions, teach you new skills, take you to remote corners of New Jersey, or even to other states, on nameless yellow school buses.
And we listened, even though once Jade forgot her locker combination and went to the main office saying she couldn’t open her locker (she was using her eighth grade combination), and once Jacob had to ask a senior how to get to the second floor, and once Elena took an overly convoluted route from Biology and—six staircases and 15 minutes later—found her way to Gym. We all found ourselves in room 173 one way or another: a future boyfriend teaching us Photoshop after a chance encounter in the library from a broken scanner, hastily scrawled emails on sheets of notebook paper at the Club Fair, sophomore friends encouraging us to join their favorite Tower sections (News & Features), smelling Hoagie Haven in the hallway at 6 p.m. and wandering over.
Tower became more and more a part of our PHS lives: something we did once a week, to something we did once a week plus four hours a month, to something we did five times a week, to something we did every day. We have edited drafts at parties, at Roman-themed food nights; on the train with bad service, on the Google Drive app on our phones; and in Budapest hotel rooms, trying to coordinate time zones with our co-editors.
We have sent last-minute emails. We have had countless conference calls, waking each other up at ungodly hours with questions about ledes and ampersands. Once, we spent seven straight hours switching study rooms at the public library and meeting with the new section editors. We’ve missed band rehearsals, music lessons, and debate meetings; postponed checking our college decisions; sacrificed school work and sleep to be here, and we don’t regret it. The advice that we were given freshman year—to choose clubs and to involve ourselves in them fully—has proven indispensable because we cannot imagine our lives without Tower.
Clubs are supposed to provide a niche for you, a place where you can be yourself and explore passions as you see fit. Here, we’re not embarrassed to play weird music and dance to it just as awkwardly, to tell bad grammar jokes and enjoy them, or to talk obsessively about celebrities. We don’t feel compelled to hide our love of Photoshop, InDesign, and the AP Style Guide. For these reasons and more, Tower has been a very liberating experience.
The friendships we’ve made have been permanent and life-changing: we’ve met people with different interests and views and learned from them, united in our love for this newspaper. It’s not so much that we love journalism or layout or photography (though we do)—it’s that we love the people we do it with, and we couldn’t ask for a better staff. A staff who puts up with our constant reminders about dummy pages and Production progress and our often-abrasive comments on drafts; a staff who tries to understand confusing Facebook posts and always specifies their condiments. The best part about any club is the people who comprise it and define its spirit, and Tower is no exception.
We are all so lucky to have found this group of people when we were freshmen and to have spent the time we did playing Cards Against Humanity, sneaking around PHS at night, and picking up dinner. The Tower isn’t a worthwhile and fulfilling activity for everyone, but it was for us. It’s bittersweet to know that, after this month, we’ll have to lessen our commitment to Tower. At the same time, we know that this space—room 173 and the community we experience together—will be a positive influence on the lives of many others, and we can’t wait to see what and, more importantly, who this newspaper becomes.
The 2014 Tower Senior Editors