Agora editor bids farewell

James P. Quick, co-editor of the Agora 2018-2019

I honestly cannot think of a way to open this without sounding horribly corny, so I’m not going to embarrass myself.

This is the third-to-last article I’ll be writing for the Agora. The last will be covering Student of the Year for Honors Night.

But this doesn’t feel real. The Agora has been a huge part of my life for three years now. Logically I know I have to leave, but emotionally I’d rather stay. I’ve made such wonderful friends here. I feel like I really became an adult here. Leaving would feel as though, on some level, I’m betraying all that.

Of course, that’s not the point. I have to go out and face the world on my own terms as my own man, armed with good intentions, a diploma, and a bit of blind faith.

Oh, hell, I said I wasn’t going to get corny and here I am, sounding like every schmaltzy, “inspirational” film Hollywood’s made since the ‘90s!

Let’s just get into this before I start getting really emotional.

I was invited to join the Agora by Dan Shaw, the adviser, back in 2016. My friend Joe Abrams and I were in his Intro to Mass Media class (fond memories there; I wrote my final paper on my reason for liv- er, favorite show: Doctor Who) and I guess we showed some promise. It also didn’t help that the entire staff before us was leaving. We’d be entirely fresh.

I figured, why not? I love helping people in need and I’d been meaning to join a school newspaper since middle school. Now was my chance! I accepted.

The first article I wrote for the Agora was, I think, a good fit. No trial by fire there, just covering Pokémon GO, which had come out that summer. Having never taken journalism, I wrote the article in the style of an essay or prose piece, which is not how things are done. Then I was introduced to AP Style, and ever since I’ve been wondering what goes through those people’s heads. Honestly, some of those rules are just utterly

I moved up eventually to personality profiles, and for a while I guess I cut out a niche covering retirements! Dr. McCloskey, Dr. Sabo, Dr. Nedry… It was nice, even if it was saddening to see them go; especially Dr. McCloskey, who’d been my first professor here at the college.

Much as I enjoy the articles I’ve done, I think one of my favorite parts of the Agora has been the great friends I’ve made during my time here. They’re practically family. I’m just going to single out a few people currently on the staff; Dan can wait for his article elsewhere in this issue.

Vanessa Ray is the sort of person who you don’t think really exists – or, at least, I didn’t. She’s a friend to all animals, has a ferocious work ethic, possesses an unfailingly upbeat personality, and has overcome hardship and strife to become one of the finest journalists and photographers I know. I’m so proud to call her my friend, and hope to do so for many years to come.

Admittedly, I didn’t know what to make of Cassidy Maier when we first met at the Agora summer barbecue. Beautiful red hair, an inquisitive mind, and a drive to get things done – and done properly! I think we get along mostly because of our inquisitive minds and love of sci-fi, as we really can be different as night and day. I wouldn’t change that for the world, though. She’s been wonderful to have as a fellow staff member, co-editor, and friend.

Watching Cheyanne Abel come into her own on the Agora staff has been something I’m intrigued by, looking back on it. She came in with art skills and good intentions, then learned how to design pages before working up to writing opinion pieces. But there’s more to her than that. She’s got a great sense of humor, is fluent in Japanese, and is willing to go the extra mile for her friends… time permitting. (Honestly, six classes in one semester, how do you do it?)

Another one who I couldn’t get a read on when I first met him was Todd Salisbury, again at the Agora summer barbecue. Now, two semesters later, has proven himself in spades. His is a mind that writes best when rather annoyed – which isn’t a bad thing! Plenty of careers have been made on such things. He’s introduced me to awesome music, offered great perspective on stories, and more. I leave the Agora in his capable hands (and Jordan Jewell’s, too).

Now then… what about me?

I’ve grown as a person over the last few years. I think there’d be something very wrong if I hadn’t, as a matter of fact. When I came to the Agora, I had been set on becoming a paleontologist. Then over my time here, I decided to become a journalist.

Now, however…  I’m not sure I want to be a journalist. It’s been a blast being on the Agora, but my work ethic can be really appalling, and my turnaround times are (in professional terms) a non-starter. Nevertheless, I want to keep writing.

Honestly, creative writing has been The Thing for me ever since I was a little boy writing a monster-themed version of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” I’m told by Dr. Joyce Haver, one of our counselors and another friend of mine, that I should go to Wayne State to study in that field.

I’d love to, but what about my boyfriend Andrew down in Pensacola? I don’t like being so far from him, and I’m looking into schools down there. But who knows what the future holds? I’m not a clairvoyant; I cannot make predictions… well, not with any accuracy.

I don’t know what more I can say that isn’t a grand declaration, so hold on just a second while I pull out my soapbox and give it a little dusting.

Right. Let’s do this.

We live in a time where not just journalism is under fire, but the middle class, vaccines, and our climate. Almost everything is in a state of extreme flux. Even I have to admit that it’s frightening out there some days. It makes me want to just stay in bed and hide… which I have done more than once. Hey, no one ever said depression was pretty.

But we can’t hide. We can’t hope the problem will go away. We need to stand tall and fight for what’s right: truth, facts, fair play, equality, and love. I’m not asking you all to go out there and become warriors. Just keep your heads on straight and keep your wits about you.

And, above all else, if you need to get something out there and you’re not confident your Facebook post or tweet will go viral… then go find a reporter. Go get in touch with your local news.

Say something!