From Professor Kabak…

For this year’s graduating seniors on Spectrum, staffing and publishing seemed, at times, all about technology. Even to get selected after applying during the crazy days of March and April 2020 meant using the oldest technology – the telephone – instead of doing in-person interviews. Then Zoom, the newest kind, made it possible since September to meet during quarantines, connect to remote instruction, and cover virtual events on campus.

However, the accomplishments of the senior editors and managers were not defined by technology nor by the uncertainties of the next day or the next wave. In fact, with the exception of one week early on, Spectrum kept to its full schedule and published some of its finest content.

The graduating seniors led the way, in collaboration with students from every class year and across multiple majors. As those seniors prepare to march off campus to their next steps, they do so with a much deeper appreciation of what it means to keep the presses rolling and to adapt to ever-changing conditions. And they did it with a lot of heart.

No doubt, it was a tumultuous year to be a member of the press, and no one on Spectrum was on the hot seat more than Cit Godinez, the news editor. Pandemic. Presidential election. Police brutality. Insurrection at the Capitol. Vaccine rollout. Cit made sure she covered them all in her section, with commentary from experts at the university and reactions of students grappling with understanding what’s going on. If that wasn’t enough, it was also her responsibility to make sure Spectrum wrote about the news stories emerging on a campus that was working to keep everyone safe while continuing to advance with new protocols, new buildings and new programs. Cit did her role with the awareness, patience, and tenacity of a media professional.

News wasn’t the only section facing dramatic changes. So was sports. What team could play? Which one couldn’t? It wasn’t just a concern for the year, it was a question that could come up hours before a scheduled game. Yet, Kenzie Carbone, the sports editor, kept her eye on the ball (football, basketball, softball – any ball handled by Pioneers). With professional efficiency and consideration, she ran her section, managed her staff, and worked with athletic communications. 

Sports continued to thrive with coverage of profiles of individual athletes and teams, with updates on practicing in a pandemic, and, whenever there was a competition, on coverage of the big football games and lots of other sports from fencing to cheerleading.

Kenzie couldn’t do it all without help, and thankfully she had two assistant sports editors, including senior Joe Sciancalopore. When he applied for the role, he said he was especially prepared for it because he had encountered all the typical AP style mistakes in his own writing, and he knew how he could help the new writers overcome theirs and be even better sports reporters. He kept to that commitment.

While news and sports are well-defined sections, features is not. In many ways, its unique content is developed through the watchful, creative eye of its editor. Under Liz Kalfayan’s leadership, features celebrated the many clubs, events, speakers, and student activities on campus. As an editor, Liz exhibited a quiet calm, deep knowledge of writing style, awareness of what’s happening on campus, and constant support for her writers.

All those world events, holidays, registration and housing decisions, campus activities – how do you really feel about them? Mackenzie Maher made sure to find out as editor of perspectives. Early on as a student in the news writing class, Mackenzie quickly caught on to the style, and later as editor drove her writers to do so too. How? Be assigned relevant topics, get lots of sources, and keep asking questions. Then put it all together into a well-organized whole with multiple angles and sharp quotes. That’s how you do perspectives.

How you do A & E is another example of excellent editing. Just ask Jackie O’Rourke. Identify the hottest topics in entertainment media (streaming, anyone?) and focus on the top artistic performances on campus – theater, comedy, music. And don’t forget now and then to schedule an article on “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette.” Jackie has been one of the longest serving members of the board and one of the most joyful and supportive of her writers. Her professionalism and enthusiasm translate into what it really means to cover arts and entertainment.

As much work as the writing section editors contribute to the publication, Spectrum could not run as successfully without its dedicated support team of editors and managers.

Have you ever noticed how important photographs are to the coverage of each of the topics you are reading? You can thank Rieanna Flores, photo editor, for managing a large staff of photographers, assigning them, training them, and using every skill to ensure that even if you were remote this year, you still provided photos that made each story come alive visually.

Publishing a paper costs money, and Spectrum looks to advertising to bolster its budget. Not an easy task in any year, but especially when many businesses in the area are completely shut down and many restaurants that students love have restrictive pandemic protocols and little or no money to put into ads. That’s why Spectrum is very thankful to have had Jon Soriano as its ad sales manager this year. Jon brought to the paper his business skills, his professional demeanor and his high expectations of staff commitment to the role. Yes, we got ads!

Spectrum sounds like a lot of work – and it is – but it’s also a lot of fun. If you’ve seen Spectrum on Instagram and Twitter, you know what Danielle Davanzo has been up to all year. “Monday Moods”? Danielle could lighten them for you just by seeing what she has posted. Instagram stories? She posts them so you’ll see them – and lead you to read Spectrum as well. As co-PR manager, Danielle made sure that, even without the benefits of seeing Spectrum at in-person table times and special events, you knew it was there for you and you were inspired to check it out. After all, you and your friends and your professors might well be featured in it that week.

As happens every year, some seniors who start out on Spectrum may leave at the last issue in December. Some former editors graduate early, like co-A & E editor Julia Pizzuto and assistant perspectives editor Daniella Cespedes. Others have many commitments to juggle, as was the case with features and news editor Anaya Vance, assistant news editor Bryan Casey, and assistant sports editor Asia McCray. Spectrum thanks each of them for their many contributions during the time they were active and dedicated members of the board.

But when it comes to thanks, two people deserve bundles of roses, piles of confetti, and a hearty toast. Spectrum could not have run with maximum efficiency and super consideration without Shannon Szefinski, managing editor for editorial. Any questions? She answered it. Anything needs to be done? She did it – quickly, kindly, smartly. What defines Spectrum 2020-2021? You can point right to Shannon’s work ethic, her understanding of media, her support for each person who edited or wrote for the paper, and her consistent embrace of what Spectrum means and how it should represent the highest quality of journalism and of the campus.

As much as each of the staff contributed this year, Spectrum runs most specifically under the leadership of the person at the top. And throughout this year of being prepared to deal with whatever’s going to happen next, that steady, wise hand belonged to editor-in-chief Dan Gardella.

Dan drove Spectrum forward through all the challenges that publishing in a pandemic could throw at him. Three years ago, none of us (the outgoing editors and I) could forget when Dan walked into the conference room in Martire where we were holding in-person interviews for Spectrum roles. Dan, applying for assistant sports editor, entered with energy and enthusiasm and a deep knowledge of sports. No, he hadn’t yet taken the news writing course. No, we hadn’t seen his published work. What’s more, he was a freshman. A freshman! He was competing against many juniors who applied and had already been published in the paper. Yet when Dan walked out of that room, it was unanimous – he was the one to choose. Throughout his sophomore, junior and senior years, Dan gave his all to his Spectrum positions, culminating this year as editor-in-chief. And as anyone who has read Spectrum can confirm, choosing him has been a very good decision indeed.

Thank you to each senior who has been part of the Spectrum board during your time at Sacred Heart. You have honored the traditions that Spectrum represents and you are leaving Spectrum in an even better place for those who, inspired by you, are prepared to carry on.

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