Editor’s Note: The best thing I have done is fail


Ben DeGear

Liam Flake, Joshua Villalpando, Bella Mahal, Anna Henning, Maddy Lewis, Annabeth Sarbacker, Karen Manley, and Olivia Doro celebrate at J-Day 2018 after winning two awards.

Madalynn Lewis, Editor in Chief

It is officially time to start my transition out of Etched in Stone. Last week, Anna Henning and I drafted the application for leadership positions for the 2021-2022 school year, and I was caught off guard. For the last four years Etched in Stone has played a huge role in my life. I have grown so much academically because of Etched in Stone, but I have become a totally different person. This class gave me the confidence that I had been lacking throughout my life to try new things and be the person I never thought I was capable of becoming. Most importantly, journalism gave me the space to fail. 

When I was a freshman, everyone welcomed me with open arms just as I was, and I felt safe to explore uncharted territory. Serena Bettis, my first Editor in Chief, started to nudge me out of my comfort zone all while she whispered words of encouragement and affirmation. She ignited my passion for media and became a powerful role model in my life. Her quiet strength and loud support gave me the courage to try new things, even if I did them poorly. She let me fail.

My sophomore year, Karen Manley, Bella Mahal, and Olivia Doro lovingly shoved me into the unknown. I was given the opportunity to serve as the Sports Beat Leader but I had no idea how to navigate the responsibilities that accompanied that role. They let me fail at every new task I attempted. They gave me the space to figure out how to manage unmotivated staff members, how to tackle conflicting schedules, how to edit sports articles, and every other job they gave me. Manley always met my frustrations with big hugs. Mahal always managed to calm my nerves by promising me that she had once been in my situation and assured me that I was on the right track. Doro wiped my tears and told me that she could not be more proud of me. All three of those wonderful women gave me the space to fall, and I willingly stumbled knowing they would always be there to catch me.  

Macy Fowler and Liam Flake made me blossom my junior year. I took everything that I had learned previously and fumbled through my third year on the Etched in Stone staff. Both Flake and Fowler let me change the role that I previously had, and allowed me to speak my mind free of judgment. No matter how many times I tumbled over my words or flushed bright red, I was met with encouragement and the will to improve. Flake challenged me to think deeper than I ever had before. His words of wisdom echo in my ear before I am about to try something new or scary. Fowler showed me unconditional warmth while she pushed me to expand on my ideas and to express my opinions with a new sense of courage that she instilled in me. 

Through it all, my advisor, Mr. DeGear. He is without a doubt the best teacher I have ever had. He has pushed me on every idea or opinion I had expressed to him, and I cannot be more thankful for that. He let me fail, but he always encouraged me to try again. His constant support has changed the way I view failure. 

Now, I do not think of failure as some abstract concept of inadequacy or incompetence. Failure means I had the courage to step into the unknown with my head held high. 

I have received nothing but unwavering love and support from this class, and now I can say I failed with pride. Every failure I experienced in this class emboldened me to try harder or to be better. No matter how many mistakes I made I knew I was making Serena Bettis, Karen Manley, Bella Mahal, Olivia Doro, Liam Flake, Macy Fowler, Maddie Booton, Anna Henning, and Mr. DeGear proud. The best thing I could have done is fail.

I did everything I could to be a great Editor in Chief this year, and now I am beyond thrilled to start the process of selecting the future leaders of Etched in Stone. However, this means my time has officially run out, and I have begun to think about the legacy I want to leave behind.

I hope that when the next generations of Etched in Stone leaders think of me, they remember me as the best failure I could have been. 

To my staff and advisor; I wish you nothing but the best failures when I am gone.