My first community, second home, and third-favorite newspaper

Avatar of Ella Creane
News Column

I joined the Jacket in my freshman year during online school. “Jacket” was synonymous with zoom calls in the kitchen with my sister, both of us crammed into one small square on the screen; with getting my mom to drive me 20 minutes across town to talk to strangers; with the first community I ever became a part of at Berkeley High School.

When we arrived on campus in sophomore year, I was lost, both socially and physically — I couldn’t remember which one was the G building and which one was the H building, and sometimes I still can’t. But no matter how large or vicious the sea of people in our hallways seemed, there were always a few familiar faces. Fellow writers, my intimidating but kind editors, or even the editor-in-chief, who seemed unfathomably “together,” would smile at me passing by, and I felt a little bit more grounded.

In February of that year, we got a tip that the superintendent would be retiring later that day. My editors wanted to scoop Berkeleyside. I spent all of lunch (and a couple of class periods) doing research and drafting an article. I sat on the grass at Civic Center for an hour after school, just waiting, and when the superintendent sent out his statement, I nabbed excerpts with almost the entire editorial board on my document with me. The article made its way to web, and I got a message — “We scooped Berkeleyside!” That was when I realized something: this could be real journalism.

A couple of weeks later I applied to be an editor, and my life changed. In my year as opinion editor, the way I saw the world, the way I wrote, and the way I interacted with my peers shifted. Jacket became a home, a community, in a way few things ever do.

Now, as editor-in-chief, I have learned innumerable lessons. I have experienced what it means to give 100 percent of yourself to making something happen, and I have been rewarded tenfold in growth and connection.

Though nobody wants to stay at school until 9:30 p.m. on a tragic Wednesday, have Slack be their most suggested app, or have “Jacket” become a verb, — “Sorry I can’t!, I have to Jacket”— I wouldn’t be who I am today without this experience, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. The Jacket is special — it’s a place where students get to be in charge, to call the shots (sorry Mr. R), and to help amplify the voices of their community. Getting to be a part of something so exceptional was worth every late night or mile-long to-do list.

Throughout it all, I have been lucky enough to be supported by a strong, insightful, and curious community. To Marina, your wit, your humor, your dedication, and your loyalty kept me afloat. I’ve never felt in it alone — thank you for being my friend, teammate, and the Jacket’s absent father. I couldn’t have done this with anyone else by my side, and I wouldn’t want to. To Lola, you complete our team, and your bright presence made every brainstorming session all the more special. 

Mr. R, thank you for believing in me. Though you like to hide behind the scenes, you are what helps keep the Jacket going, year after year, and the wisdom and kindness that you bolster each one of us with is irreplaceable. Your trust in my leadership is part of what shaped me into the leader I am today.

To the 2023-24 editorial board, I wish I could thank each of you one by one. You are remarkable, silly, wise, and bright, and you each mean the world to me. Thank you for filling such long nights with laughter and learning. I’ve grown just by knowing every single one of you.

To my favorite incoming EICs, I simply can’t name a better dream team. Josie, your thoughtfulness, your dedication, and your warmth will light up the Jacket room next year, and Ysabel, your care, your insight, and your persistence make me feel beyond confident. The passion you both bring is contagious, and it’s invaluable.

I don’t know what I’ll do without Sliver pizza four times a week, Victorious theme songs, or scavenger hunts through indesign to look for missing pages, but I know that I’m grateful to every person on staff, past or present, for making the Jacket what it is today. This community is one in a million.