Gabe Fleisher, Signing Off


Gabe Fleisher, Editor-in-Chief

It goes without saying, but I thought I would be writing this note — my final editor’s letter — under very different circumstances. 

For one thing, I thought it would be published in a print issue of The World. I thought, one last time, we would make an announcement about it at Assembly (not an Assembly video). I thought I would be able to watch proudly throughout the day as you all read and discussed the issue in the Commons, and smile to myself and count it as a success when I heard teachers implore my classmates to “put The World away” and pay attention. 

Instead, of course, I am writing this and you are reading it from our respective homes. The last month of my last year at Burroughs has been cut off, as I join millions of seniors in this disappointing and anticlimactic end to our high school experiences, just one small casualty in a global crisis that is leaving few lives unchanged. 

Amid this swirl of uncertainty, in between Zoom classes and my final homework assignments, I’ve found myself reflecting a lot on my six years at Burroughs and looking inward, thinking of relationships formed, knowledge gained, worlds explored. I entered JBS six years ago knowing almost no one and deeply skeptical of my own choice to come here, the sole student from my prior school to do so. Now that I am leaving, it is hard to imagine stepping out of the community that I feel has embraced, encouraged, and taught me in so many ways.

I’m often frustrated by letters like these, feeling like they can offer a hagiographic version of a place which I have come to love but — like all of us — has its imperfections. As I wrote in the very first issue we printed in August, it is my hope that in The World this year we brought you more than that, a buffet of nuanced perspectives about the school packed in every issue. 

I hope you read the paper and were astounded by the creativity and intelligence of your peers who we profiled, while also challenged by hard-hitting investigative and opinion pieces. If this objective was met, then there are many people who were responsible. My thanks go to Ms. Ervin, whose consistent kindness, sound and even-keeled advice, and pearls of journalistic wisdom will stick with me as I pursue reporting beyond these halls. To Hallie, who has put up with me as her co-editor and never failed to make this paper stronger. To our editorial team — Ethan, Carrie, Jon, Rekha, Tina, Kendall, Graham, Thomas, and Sara — for my money, the best this school has ever known.

And to the dozens of writers and artists of all ages who contributed such amazing work each month. I remember attending my first World meetings as a seventh grader, in the basement of the old Science building, and how they were equal parts intimidating and entertaining. I hope the meetings we held this year learned much more towards the latter. 

Together, we went farther and dug deeper than The World has in many years, and printed a number of stories that, honestly, I think the administration would rather we have not pursued. 

But they were printed regardless. And for that, I am also appreciative to Mr. Abbott and the Burroughs administration, for their cooperation on a wide range of articles throughout this year and for the freedom they have given us to report on both favorable and uncomfortable aspects of the school.

In my time here, many students have been known to complain about the degree to which “student voice” is listened to by the administration. I am as sensitive as anyone to these concerns, but I must say, for the most part, I do not share them. I am often impressed by what the faculty allows to be said in sound-offs at the Haertter Hall podium; the fact that sound-offs are such an integral part of the school culture at all is rare and commendable in and of itself. 

On the whole, I have found JBS to be a vibrant and accepting community; at the same time, I believe the school has deep blind spots concerning diversity (racial, socioeconomic, political, religious) and other important shortcomings that often linger in the air, undiscussed. But in my experience, the Burroughs administration has also been ready and willing to have conversations to address these issues — as long as the student body ensures that they take place. 

If you sense a lack of “student voice,” the best remedy will always be to simply insist on making your voice heard. Don’t just complain quietly, speak up, and do so forcefully.  

I hope students, at The World and outside of it, will continue to take advantage of the freedom we are lucky to be given at JBS. Keep having those conversations. They are crucial, and will only make the school a better place. Keep pushing: it is only in these uncomfortable confrontations that change is made and cultures are improved. 

Time and again, I have been blown away by the capacity of so many students at Burroughs; seek out your brilliant peers as friends and allies, don’t be impressed by them too late and from afar. Keep asking questions, as our publication has sought to do this year, and keep on asking them until you get your answers. 

Thank you for reading this letter, and for reading The World these past six years. Go Newspaper Bomb.