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Sage Bitter

Courageous, responsible handling of controversial issues despite threat or imposition of censorship Skilled and creative use of media content – writing Published in The Roosevelt News October 26, 2016. Editor in Chief Sage Bitter

Sage Advice It’s tradition at The Roosevelt News for the Editor in Chief to write a column every issue. Initially I found this daunting, and I wasn’t sure how best I could use this outlet to benefit the school and the paper. Then, the reporters writing a feature story on the 2016 election couldn’t find a single Trump supporter in our predominantly liberal high school that wanted to go on record because of fears of backlash. I was extremely frustrated that a school that claims to be so accepting was actually fostering a culture of fear if the person or idea in question was more conservative in nature. After it was printed, my column was widely and diversely discussed, and was even presented at the Language Arts Department’s staff meeting as a possible work to teach in the curriculum.


And Bitter Truth

consider myself to have an awareness of current social issues and an understanding of how they fit into the fabric of the society we have collectively woven. In more modern terms, I consider myself to be “woke.” I listen to NPR. I attend diversity workshops and feminist conventions. I read the paper. I write for the paper. But recently I’ve noticed that some of the socially aware and liberal Seattle circles I run in have fallen victim to the use of the buzzword. A buzzword is a term that’s fashionable to slap on to something to illicit a reaction and craft a perception that a person or an organization knows what’s up. Serious matters like racism, social inequality and inclusivity have oftentimes been reduced to little more than tag lines to toss around when somebody wants to play up their knowledge of the times. “Inclusive” is one of these terms. If I had a dime for every time I heard the term “inclusive,” I would have enough money to put myself through college. Inclusivity is a slippery slope and one that is often oversimplified for promotional purposes on brochures, in school programs, and online. It feels like every community nowadays wants to be inclusive — accommodating of all people, abilities, and ideas. That’s not a bad thing in theory, but in practice, inclusivity is messy. How does a teacher in an inclusive classroom balance one student’s wishes to freely show their transgender identity and another student’s hardset belief that this is innately wrong? After all, inclusive means everyone; it means the old gentleman who still believes India was better when it was a British colony, it means the young Bernie Sanders supporters who want a push towards democratic socialism, it even means the Donald Trump supporters who want to build that infamous wall, and it means everyone in between. If we aren’t prepared to accommodate and work with all these beliefs, we need to stop throwing around the term inclusive because otherwise it’s deception. We have to ask ourselves, is our own school environment inclusive if a staff member who supports Trump can’t publicly state their stance without fear of being intimidated and hassled? Inclusivity is by no means an easy undertaking, and it’s especially those who preach their inclusivity that have a ways to go. And yes, maybe sometimes you will viscerally disagree with some of the ideals presented in these classrooms, discussions, and communities, but if an inclusive environment is to be created, we owe it, human to human, to try to understand each other.

Sage Bitter

Courageous, responsible handling of controversial issues despite threat or imposition of censorship

The rough road to leadership


She says the messages continued throughout the year, and “the whole time period between February Staff Reportersand March was just like hell.” Guttorp summed up he elected student officers of ASR are tasked the messages she knew Stamatatos received, claimwith organizing student events, communicating ing other candidates said “that he didn’t deserve to with administrators, leading spirit activities, and run for president because this year was his first year, most importantly, representing our school. In order which is really weird, because that’s what [Jessamyn to be elected, students must try their hand at cam- Reichmann] did, and she was a fine president.” Gutpaigning. Candidates create posters and record vid- torp also describes being excluded from important eos that are displayed in front of the entire school. decisions, “[They] sat down, and discussed who was However, several ASR members cite a climate of in- gonna run for what. And I guess, that’s not really tense competition. According to ASR advisor Kate- how it’s supposed to be done, because it is an eleclyn Plesha, “Just the fact of wanting something, and tion.” That pressure in ASR didn’t appear overnight. having worked so hard for something…you’re pasRoosevelt’s class president for the 2015-2016 school sionate about it, and that can bring out a lot of emotion.” Multiple students have come away from the year, Jessamyn Reichmann, was first elected onto election process dissatisfied, claiming they’ve been ASR’s junior class council after running for both unpressured not to run by other candidates, excluded derclassmen class councils. When Reichmann ran from important decisions, and bullied – both online for class president of 2015-16, Guttorp says, “There and in person. According to Plesha, students with a minimum of one semester of ASR experience can run for executive class council, although one year of ASR experience is required for the presidential and vice-presidential positions. However, students with more experience tend to feel more invested in the organization and therefore, may feel they deserve higher positions. Senior Oliver Stamatatos considered running for president last year, but instead chose to run for senior class council, to which he was elected. He says of ASR students, “A lot of these people know was a lot of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t run. You’re not qualified.’” Because of her lack of experience in ASR, Reichmann admits, “I was definitely treated differently… When it came to the actual presidential position, I was running against candidates who had been in there since freshman year. I had at least two kids who came up to me...they referred to me that I probably shouldn’t be running, that I had a lack of knowledge when it came to ASR, and that I would probably be a very poor president.” Undeterred, Reichmann went on to win the presidency. However, the effect of similar pressure on other candidates has held greater influence over the race’s results. When the pressure on candidates is intense enough, these results can be extreme. Guttorp felt Photos By Allison Bullard the brunt of this pressure – so much so that after narrowly losing the election, she enrolled at Nathan The focal point of the tension within ASR has been Hale later that year. She confesses, “Of course I was the annual elections for next year’s executive posisad about losing, but I was really more sad that the tions, specifically the office of class president. people who plotted all this and treated [us] so horhow the class is run, because they’ve been in it for ribly got exactly what they wanted.” Based on this, so long. So, they naturally then feel like they want Guttorp explains why she switched schools: “I loved to go on to the leadership position….so I guess per- Roosevelt. I had a really good experience there. But sonally for me it felt kind of intimidating.” Current I just didn’t want to be in a place where the people class president Jayne Walters disagrees, saying that running the school did that to people.” Plesha also spoke to the frequency of conflict in “I don’t really think it was competitive, it was more just you want to show everyone that this is what ASR. “There’s definitely been some issues; there’s been some pettiness. It’s unfortunate, and I’ve had [you’re striving for].” Senior Emi Guttorp did run for class president to sit down and do conflict mediation...It’s not last year, and describes a similar situation she en- necessarily the norm, but yes, it does happen.” But countered when she and Stamatatos were deciding what motivates this conflict? Reichmann instantly whether or not to join the race. “We both got texts answers, “the fear of losing. And also, the lack of hu[from ASR members]...basically roasting us. Mine mility, you could say. I feel at times, Roosevelt – and was a little bit worse, because [it] said my leaving a lot of high school kids – tend to idolize positions for a mental illness wasn’t a valid reason to go to the that are only so temporary.” Finally, what shoulld hospital and miss school. But basically just saying you do if such a conflict arises? Stamatatos says that you guys don’t have enough experience [to run for if someone prevented him from running, “it’d be reclass president].” On conflicts like these between stricting.” He continues, “I feel like you should be candidates, Plesha adds, “I also think, unfortunate- able to run or apply for anything you’re qualified for. ly, in the age of...texting and whatnot, there’s a lot So, I think if you have the ability and you have the more stuff that can go on outside of the classroom.” drive, I think you should go for it.” Nonetheless, Guttorp went on to run for president. Max Mayer & Nate Sanford


Published in The Roosevelt News January 18, 2017.

I worked closely with the two staff reporters on this highly controversial and complicated article about claims of intimidation in student elections. I met with both writers and their section editor weekly over the course of two months to go over transcripts of interviews, evaluate their writing for bias, and figure out how to handle a source who was considering anonymity. I ran into trouble and exercised my student press rights and the open forum status of the publication when the ASR advisor contacted me to try to stop the article from going to print.

motivates this ”What conflict? Reichmann in-

stantly answers, “The fear of losing [and a] lack of humility


Sage Bitter

Skilled and creative use of media content – production

Spots to smooch

Rating the best first dates around town Published in The Roosevelt News January 19, 2016.

I have never had more fun crafting a layout than I did as an Arts and Entertainment Editor with “Spots to smooch”. While the article is a humorous review of dating culture in Seattle, I am proud of the design aspects from the balance to the incorporation and harmony of layers of different graphics and features. All of the components required my coordination and communication with four different staff members, and I think the result is worth it!

Olivia Capestany

Staff Reporter

4.20/5 Smooches

3.867/5 Smooches

Picnic at Gasworks Everyone loves dinner with a view. On a cool winter evening, grab blankets and a picnic basket and head out to Gasworks Park. To show off your culinary swagger, make some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or cold pasta. This is an ideal spot for a picnic, due to its scenic location and large, open green fields. “Yes, it’s a good DIY spot. It’s cute, scenic, and free,” says sophomore and amateur love guru Aidan Schellings. Lay out on the grass “Fault in our Stars” style and snuggle up with your babe under the stars. This is a great opportunity to kiss under the moonlight’s dim glow. Not only is this option romantic, it’s cost-effective too!

Thrift Shopping Badam badam badam ba! You know who loves thrift shopping more than Macklemore? Couples who want to go on cute and affordable dates! Show your date your goofy side while dressing up in crazy outfits and taking selfies. Get romantic and sneak kisses in between the clothing racks. There are many thrift store options in Seattle, but opt for Goodwill on the Ave. Once you are done shopping, you can stop for bubble tea or some good old-fashioned E coli at Chipotle.

4.5/5 Smooches

4/5 Smooches Seattle Great Wheel If you’re looking for a scenic date for you and your one true love, go explore pier 51 and take a lovely saunter hand in hand as you skip along the boardwalk. Maybe go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant like the Pink Door or settle for something cheaper like fish and chips at the local and delicious Ivar’s chowder house. End your date at the Great Wheel. The Wheel is pretty cheap at 13 dollars per person. Make sure you grab your own gondola for extra privacy. “Cute, but you’re kind of stuck in a box,” says senior Megan Joss. Either way, this Ferris Wheel will take you to great heights as you hardcore make out with your bae overlooking the sound.

Salsa Dancing Show your date how well you can gyrate through the medium of salsa dancing! Take your smooch partner up on Capitol Hill to visit Century Ballroom. For only ten dollars per person, every Friday, you can receive an introductory dance lesson with no pre-registration necessary. Use this as an excuse to get close with your partner on the dance floor. However, make sure you don’t get too down and dirty because all ages are welcome. “Going dancing is like way too intimate for a first date,” said resident kiss connoisseur, senior Emma Reith, so be advised this may be too caliente for some. After your steamy dance, cool off with some ice cream at the local Molly Moon’s.

Sage Bitter

Skilled and creative use of media content – writing Inquiry and investigative persistence resulting in in-depth study or studies of issues important to the local high school community, high school students in general, or society Published in The Roosevelt News April 30, 2015.

In my mind an article like this is the perfect marriage between a current event and a greater issue. There were no shortcuts in writing this article as I had to first do extensive research on what had occurred, then understand the science behind it, and finally find several perspectives on its importance to synthesize into an accessible package for the reader.



Sage Bitter

Inquiry and investigative persistence resulting in in-depth study or studies of issues important to the local high school community, high school students in general, or society Published in The Roosevelt News June 12, 2015.


This was a favorite piece of mine because not only did I have the chance to bring attention to an issue the majority of the student body and staff weren’t aware of , I also conducted some of the most fascinating interviews I’d ever done. Speaking to students, teachers, and administrators allowed me to provide a fuller picture and even an examination of the districts priorities.

Sage Bitter

Self Evaluation It’s been three years since I applied to The Roosevelt News as a reporter because my Freshman language arts teacher wouldn’t take no for an answer. I never knew what an impact being on the paper would have on me, and now as the Editor in Chief, almost every moment of my day is occupied by “News”. My job extends far beyond the bounds of the school day, whether it's spending hours after school working with the copy-editors, being on the phone with our publisher at one a.m. to coordinate printing mishaps, or going to a pizzeria every month to help our student staff of over fifty bond. I have a problem to troubleshoot every day, because of the complexities of running a paper and of working with friends. This has greatly contributed to my ability to think on my feet and stay calm under pressure. It has also contributed to my realization all of these challenges are worth the work because of the opportunity I have to promote student voice, a positive community, and powerful journalism. One of my top priorities as Editor in Chief was to craft a community that's open for collaboration, discussion, and fun. We have weekly current event discussions, decorate our space for holidays, and honor staff members monthly, as I believe a strong community results in strong work. On this year’s staff, I have never seen more talent, drive and diversity in opinion and I’m proud that part of my job is helping these people realize their potential by providing them with the environment to do so. I encourage them to take risks while following standards of journalistic integrity to a tee, and as a result our paper has been home to some hard-hitting investigative reporting on school suspensions and administrative policies because the staff knows they have a support system in place. My time on the paper, from the first year I spent as a reporter to my transition to editorial leadership, has helped me realize what I love most is telling stories and more so, making sure they're told well. It's helped me understand my desire to continue to explore and learn from different perspectives. Storytelling is the root of all cultures and has carried into the modern age in the somewhat unlikely package of journalism. Now more than ever in an age inundated with information I believe if we forget the power of our own voices we are lost. I want to be part of the effort to continue strong and credible storytelling into this age; to give the voiceless their voice and when need be, to quiet the powerful whether as a science journalist communicating the complexities of climate change or covering politics in Washington D.C. at a time when transparency and accountability is more important than ever.


Sage Lu Flannery Portfolio  
Sage Lu Flannery Portfolio