The sounds behind a fond farewell

Growing up, I was never all that into music. To this day, I listen to whatever is on the radio when I’m driving and am usually fine working in silence. But in the basement of the Campus Center lies a place where I can’t help but define things by the sound leaving the speakers — and it’s not the WCWM recording studio.

When you walk into the Flat Hat’s unassuming office, you’ll see white walls, big wooden desks and half-broken chairs, sticky notes and Game of Thrones crests taped to the walls alongside aged awards and previously important 1960s front pages. But what you hear is what defines the eclectic nature and life of this newsroom.

Sometimes, it will be Kanye, rapping or singing alongside Rihanna. More often, Fleetwood Mac or Creedence Clearwater Revival will make its way to your ears. There was a Les Mis phase, followed by Beyonce-day. If it’s after 2 a.m., you might have the misfortune of Kidz Bop or luck out with some Justin Timberlake. The elusive REO Speedwagon comes and goes alongside ABBA and Taylor Swift — even Jason Derulo (though less so).

Obviously our office is musically spastic. It jumps DJ to DJ, resting moments on some and hours on others. Editors sign-off their nights with chosen singles — ranging from “Take Me Home Tonight,” to “Bootylicious,” to “Let’s Get it On,” to N.W.A.’s most famous protest song.

What makes the musical environment of this newsroom great, though, is that it changes — not alongside announced and unannounced dropped albums — but with the individuals who live here four nights a week. The year of “Bootylicious” ended in 2014, and “Take Me Home Tonight” the year before that. “Let’s Get it On” lasted until fall 2015, while N.W.A. phased itself out last month.

But what will the new tides bring? With that youthful glint in their eyes, the new Flat Hat staff is bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and every other clichéd phrase you can think of for excited. It’s their turn to take hold of this century-old paper and turn it into their own. With it, they take over this flood-zone of an office, with its dusty walls and musical roulette.

At the captain’s helm, we have Aine Cain ’16, who bears all mispronunciations of her name and can swap history facts with the best of them (and only the best of them). It’s an honor to hand off to such a passionate and enthusiastic individual and I know she can take this paper into the future without forgetting its traditional roots.

Second in command is Tucker Higgins ’17, moving from Variety editor to executive editor. Though a feature-man by nature, he has a keen sense for news and knows how to chase down a story — even if it involves some intense Facebook stalking. May he continue to chase leads when at home and abroad next year.

Supporting their every grammatical need, Kat Turk ’16 and Amanda Williams ’16 will take over the reins of their formidable section as copy chiefs. Two dedicated individuals, they connived to elevate the copy section to the highest of honors — assassins champions of 2015.

In the visually exciting world of photography, Caroline Nutter ’18 will join Ashley Richardson ’17 as photos editors, combining their extraordinary talents.

Former associate Variety editor Emily Nye ’16 will take over as chief staff writer this spring. After two years and change covering essential stories, Emily will be a great addition to the new writer training program. Associate opinions editor Kaitlan Schaub ’17 is shifting to editorial writer, where she will undoubtedly prove a strong voice and even stronger writer as she supports the paper’s editorial board.

After moving to online editor last fall, Kayla Sharpe ’17 will continue in the position alongside her new co-editor Julia Kott ’17. The pair will continue to bolster the print content of the newspaper with multimedia content ranging from videos to Snapchat stories while adding their personal creative touches. Iris Hyon ’18 will join them as social media editor, taking her Twitter talents to the next level, and Matt Camarda ’16 will move from editorial writer to blogs editor — further expanding the online section.

Though she moved to her position in the last days of her first semester at the College of William and Mary, Isabel Larroca ’18 has demonstrated her talent at running the most controversial section of the paper — opinions. She will continue in this position and I look forward to seeing the pieces she can pull from her columnists.

Nick Cipolla ’17 and Sumner Higginbotham ’17 have taken over the time-honored sports desk and its much-loved Twitter handle (@FlatHatSports). They will continue to cover Tribe games, matches and tournaments despite rain, heat or lack of audience members.

Taking over the spiciest section of them all are Emily Chaumont ’18 and Sarah Ruiz ’18. Together, they’ll ensure that the features stay fun, the profiles stay meaningful and Behind Closed Doors stays sexy.

And in my first Flat Hat home, KJ Moran ’18 and Madeline Bielski ’17 serve as the new sultans behind the news desk. Chasing stories throughout the day and night, these two bring the excitement and drive needed in the craziest and most nocturnal of sections.

Rounding out the 2015-16 Flat Hat staff are Annie Curran ‘16, Rohan Desai ‘17 and Daria Grastara ‘17, all of whom managed their sections with dedication during this past year and are either abroad or continuing with The Flat Hat in a noneditorial position.

Like I said, a lot of youthful glints in this new staff’s many pairs of eyes. But with the newfound structure of a staff comes a contingent of tired — and bar-frequenting — seniors.

Emily Lowman ’15 and Rachel Neely ’15 have been essential to the success of the paper this past year. As copy chiefs, they caught the mistakes of fast-moving journalists, covering our rears many a time.

But one graduating journalist never really seemed to need the help of her editors or copy chiefs. Grooming her writing talents as Variety Editor, Sarah Caspari ’15 moved to cover some of the most nuanced of stories as Chief Staff Writer, and I will miss seeing her name in the bylines of this paper.

Though she only joined the core staff of the paper this past fall, Devon Ivie ’15 has added a new and exciting element to our newspaper community. With a music taste that rivals Aine’s, Devon brought a classy spice to the Variety section during her tenure.

Moving to the digital world, Zachary Frank ’15 launched a new era in the online section of The Flat Hat. Shifting seamlessly from Opinions editor to the video-and blog-oriented section, Zachary added multiple new podcast features to our site while also building the artistic visuals of our video content. Alongside him, Molly Menickelly ’15 came in as social media editor, helping us launch The Flat Chat and continuing to drive users to our content with Facebook and Twitter postings. Both Zachary and Molly add a special flavor to this staff that will be impossible to recreate.

Still recovering from two short-falling CAA championship runs, the golden trio of sports are hanging up their press passes. Chris Weber ’15, Mick Sloan ’15 and Jack Powers ’15 rotated through their lineup as sports editors over the last two years. All I can say is, while the office arguments will be fewer and Kanye will see a decrease in Spotify listens on the office computers, I know these three will continue to #workuntil.

Last up are my right and left hands, the two people I relied on most this past year — Ellen Wexler ’15 and Abby Boyle ’15.

As a two-year executive editor, Ellen has seen it all. She’s managed six different variety editors, persevered through learning Adobe Illustrator, and battled column after column about last year’s Sigma Chi email. Anyone who meets Ellen would say that she doesn’t say much — and she won’t deny it — but when she does say something it’s incredibly important to listen. Her opinion and insight has saved me from many a mistake or rash judgment and I know there were moments when it would have proved wiser to listen to Ellen rather than going with my gut.

Balancing Ellen’s affinity for Ayn Rand and Johnny Cash, Abby brings the liveliness – and catchiness – of the mainstream into our office, and she’ll always defend her right to do so. Though her heart will forever live with the Variety section, Abby’s sense for news is one of my favorites — mainly because it is coupled with a love for Ginger Ambler. In her year as managing editor, Abby has led the news and sports sections through wordiness and sterility (how else could you describe the lack of news on this campus sometimes?).

Graduating with these seniors are a collection of playlists, Pandora accounts and YouTube histories. And while the traditional strongholds will never quite leave — everyone needs to listen to “Rumours” once or twice a day — the music of the new staff will fill in the gaps and absences as easily as they filled in the chairs behind those big wooden desks.

Email Meredith Ramey at


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