By Sydney Spector
June of 2018 and the MPH is community is getting ready for graduation. But change is happening for the Pebble.
With influential seniors — such as Editor-in-Chief Suzannah Peckham, Senior Assistant Editor Emma Purce, Copy Editor Lily Grenis, Artistic Director Dan Mezzalingua, Assistant Creative Director Rachel Comfort, and Staff Writers Riley Cappelletti and Bella Cassella, as well as Advisor Jeanne Albanese — leaving to go to college and pursue other things in their lives, the Journalism Workshop class will change to a new course called Publications. Students in the Publications class will produce both the Pebble and The Windmill, MPH’s literary magazine.
It is up to new staffers being lead by English Department Chair Fred Montas to turn over a new leaf. Here, Peckham, Mezzalingua, Cassella, Purce and Albanese talk about their time on the Pebble and what they’ll miss about it.
Editor-in-Chief Suzannah Peckham got into journalism when she had a meeting with Mr. Stegeman and her mother. Stegeman suggested that the class was worth taking, but Peckham didn’t want to. Her mom eventually won out in the end, and Peckham took the course for a semester at the end of her freshman year. And she’s been in the class ever since.
“I’m gonna miss the joy that comes with finishing the magazine,” Peckham said. “Whether it’s the year or the semester or back when we published quarterly. I guess it’s just like the sense of accomplishment that comes when we finish something. And how close everybody gets.”
Peckham has advvice for for incoming editors of the Pebble magazine.
“Definitely be prepared for a lot of work,” she said. “A lot of extra hours outside of school. On weekends, on Sundays, Fridays. You’re gonna be doing it all.”
Creative Director Dan Mezzalingua enjoyed writing in tenth grade and he was shocked he hadn’t take journalism. He would talk about it with friends about whether they liked the class or not. So, he picked it up in 11th grade.
“I thought it was so cool,” Mezzalingua said. “The whole idea of reporting and writing.”
When asked about what he is going to miss about the Pebble, Mezzalingua had this to say.
“[One thing I’ll miss] is the whole vibe,” he said. “The connections that we all have. All the laughs that we have. Even being pushed and being stressed out because I have to meet my deadlines. It’s all part of the class.”
Mezzalingua does not know who he’d like to fill his shoes next year. But a tip he has for the incoming Creative Director — know how to use the Adobe program Indesign because you’ll be using it a lot. He is also working on a document to help ease the way.
Bella Cassella took journalism when she was a freshman, but dropped it to take dance. But in her senior year, she dropped dance to take art classes and she found she had time in her schedule to take journalism. So, she did.
“I met a lot of cool people there [my freshman year] like Janae and Dan Albanese,” Casella said. “The friendships I made there impacted my life. So one thing I’m gonna miss about journalism is the vibe that comes with getting the project done with a bunch of other kids.”
Emma Purce also took journalism her freshman year, but dropped it after not enjoying the experience. After hearing good things about the journalism program when Albanese took over, who was brought in after Purce’s time in the class, she decided to give it another shot.
“I feel as a senior, I was really ready for this.” Purce said. “It forced me to step out of my comfort zone and push my boundaries, and I’m definitely going to miss the challenge of it. The fact that I’m never allowed to slack off or get behind on my work. It forces me to be the best student I can be, and I’m gonna miss that constant challenge.”
The teacher, Jeanne Albanese, is leaving to pursue writing projects. She will miss being able to hear Mr. Curtis’s voice through the thin wall of Mr. Montas’s classroom. She was a reporter at The Post Standard for 13 years. She got into journalism because she always liked to write.
“I was also a sports nut and I would race to the mailbox every morning to read The Daily News backwards (starting with sports),” Albanese said. “I admired all the sportswriters I read every day. I didn’t realize at the time that I was soaking up the talents of several award-winning journalists.”
Albanese came to MPH in the midst of the 2015 financial crisis. A friend of hers saw the advertisement and contacted her about it because she knew Albanese loved to teach journalism. It was a tough time to start at the school, but said all the other teachers were always incredibly kind to her.
Albanese will miss teaching the journalism class how to write and report on stories around the MPH community. She will also miss educating journalism students on problems in the media. Like the students mentioned, what she will miss most is the effort and teamwork that went into creating the Pebble.
“What I will miss most is presenting the students with a completely blank canvas on Day 1 that will eventually become a full color 30-plus page magazine,” she said. “And watching them fill it up with story ideas, photos, headlines and funny and interesting stuff.
“I will miss watching them work as a team to get this herculean task done together. I will miss their victories along the way — overcoming fear to do an interview, finding just the right words for their story’s lede, executing elaborate and creative cover photo shoots. And I will miss the smiles of satisfaction, many months later, as they rip into the boxes of printed magazines on distribution day, finally seeing all of their extremely hard work and attention to every detail, in gorgeous color print with their names attached.
“I will miss the students and their vastly different personalities, interests and strengths. I truly enjoyed meeting each and every one of them and I enjoyed the rush of doing great journalism with them. I am most proud of what they accomplished by stepping outside their comfort zones, taking risks and never giving up.
“I want the students to remember they can do whatever they set their minds to do and I hope they’ve gained some confidence in themselves through the Journalism workshop.”
Though many influential staff members are leaving, their legacy will never be forgotten, and under Mr. Montas’ guidance, will flourish even more. I am looking forward to a new year in Publications and what next year has in store.