The final scoop: My tribute to Common Sense


Photo Courtesy Mace Berk. Seniors Jake Hoffman, Chris Castelli, Jake Konigsberg, Ryan McGraw, Mace Berk and Alec Fleischer celebrate with adviser Evva Starr at the Quill and Scroll banquet in May 2022.

No matter what you do in life, the clock will keep ticking, the sun will rise and set, the weeks will go by and the years will slowly pass. But if you gave me a stopwatch at the beginning of freshman year and looked back at it now, the memories created and lessons learned would make it so that the stopwatch reads 20 years instead of just four. The tiny decision Jake Hoffman made in eighth grade when he told me, “just sign up for newspaper, trust me…” turned out to be the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

The official starting line of my Common Sense marathon was the first article I’ve ever written, a feature article on a new hot dog restaurant opening up nearby. I chose this article solely for one reason, it was the easiest to finish. Looking back at this article, I can confidently say this was not mine but, just a combination of the MoCo Show and Washington Post’s articles with an extended quote from one of my best friends just to reach the 500-word limit. Even though my parents and newspaper adviser Evva Starr both congratulated me on the article, I didn’t feel a single ounce of pride. It was like someone else had planted me a tree and given me the fruits of their labor but I just built a fence and called it my own garden.

Ask any runner and there are two different starts to a race: the starting line and the point in the race when it gets hard. It took me 1.5 years since the original hot dog article for me to write an article that I put 100% effort into. Ironically, that article was a preview of the most famous race in the entire state, The Preakness. The hardest part wasn’t the dozen of emails with the Preakness staff, it wasn’t the weeks of research boiled down to 500 words, but the drive and grit needed to keep going when you think nobody will give you credit for it. Thankfully, Mrs. Starr and my parents weren’t the only ones reading that article and I was awarded a CSPA Gold Circle award for the article. which to this date is one of my most proud accomplishments.

Even though I felt like I was on top of the hill as far as article writing goes, I saw a bigger peak in the distance, mastering the art of page designing. I had the privilege of being a news editor in my junior year and I only had one goal in mind: to make the most creative pages that anybody had ever seen. The only issue with that was my patience. Using a program that would often crash and take me hours just to figure out how to change the color of the text led to unbearable headaches, hours of procrastination, and mediocre pages that never left me feeling satisfied.

This would all change on the last press day of the year. After two days and hours of page designing, I was finally done with my final page and couldn’t wait to go straight to a celebratory dinner with friends. One issue, we had one blank page in the paper because one of the editors canceled at the last minute. Coming full circle, I volunteered to finish the page with Jake Hoffman, the man who got me into Common Sense in the first place. With the help of our friend Julia Lvovsky, we somehow powered through two more hours of work to design the best page of my entire career. It was only then where I could finally understand what “10% of people do 90% of the work,” really meant.

No matter the length of the race, when runners see the finish line, they often go all out and sprint. My 10-month-long senior year went by like a 40-yard dash. I got the opportunity to help lead as a managing editor, wrote eight amazing articles and won two more CSPA awards. But most importantly I spent every single eighth period of the year just talking and writing with my best friends in the world. That alone holds a bigger weight than any award I’ve ever won. So now that it’s over, I can finally check my stopwatch and with a smile can say that it reads so much more than just four years.