Graduating seniors reflect on Chimes tenures, Calvin experiences

File Photo
File Photo

Abby Zwart, editor in chief (four years on staff)

It’s going to be hard to ensure that this little reflection doesn’t sound like an Academy Awards acceptance speech.  Oh well — I guess I won’t fight it.  I’ve got a few thank yous to give.

If you are reading this, thank you.  Reading staff reflection pages means you probably like Chimes, and you might even read it faithfully.  There’s really no point to our work if you don’t exist, so please keep reading.  We’re in print, we’re online, we’re on your Facebook wall. Do stay in touch.

My next thank you is to the Chimes staff.  You are truly incredible.  I’ve been working with some of you for three or four years now, and you are the most intelligent, thoughtful, hilarious and encouraging people I know.  Readers, if you know someone on staff — an editor, a writer, a photographer — thank them.

You can’t quite imagine the amount of work they do each week, and they manage to do it with grace and ease.  Chimes is a (mostly) well-oiled machine because of their willingness to both take direction and initiative.  Staff, I’m blessed to have worked with all of you.

My third thank you extends beyond Chimes.  It goes out to the English department, my second home at Calvin.  These faculty and students teach me every day about what it means to be a reader, a writer, a speaker and a listener, and particularly how to do these things in a Christian context.

Under their keen eyes, I’ve written many things I’m proud of.  With their insightful guidance, I’ve studied great works of literature.  With their encouraging mentorship, I’ve become a confident and competent teacher.  Through their masterful teaching, I’ve learned parallel structure.  They’re all pretty friendly, too.

It’s hard to sum up four years in a couple of paragraphs.  Other people and places and events have certainly contributed to my “Calvin experience.”  (That’s an awful phrase, isn’t it?  It’s concise — too concise.)  I just can’t cram them all into this box.  You know who you are.

So, I’d like to thank the academy.

John Kloosterman, managing editor (four years on staff)

The first I heard of Chimes was in high school, where I read a number of spoofs for which past editors have been fired, that are no longer available outside our office. This incited me join Chimes the moment I stepped foot at Calvin, where I started out as a copyeditor. This means I have read almost every word of every issue of Chimes published in the last four years.

Interviewing N.T. Wright during the 2012 January Series (alongside the illustrious Andrew Steiner) is one of the highlights of my Chimes career. He was a very knowledgeable man, able to extemporaneously speak on the record about Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Colbert, Christianity and public policy, the ordination of gay clergy and the type of wine Jesus turned water into. Should I ever become that kind of polymath, all those Chimes articles will have had a lot to do with it.

This past year, I’ve been doing most of my work behind the scenes as managing editor. I was involved last summer with the implementation of the new Chimes website, mostly coding things that you probably don’t realize are there.

Being part of the staff that covered Calvin’s financial problems required a lot of meetings, collaborative work with other editors and creative thinking about how to get people to read about and understand a complicated story about a normally unexciting topic. I don’t know of where besides Chimes I could have been able to develop these kinds of skills as well. 

And I even managed to avoid being fired in the process.

Michelle Ratering, section editor (four years on staff)

As is the case with many freshmen, my first semester at Calvin was rocky.  I feet displaced, as many students do, and looked for ways to connect to people in my new home.  While I would later connect with residence life and meet an incredible group of people who I still today adore and regularly see, Chimes was my first real community at Calvin.

It was scary.  I didn’t know anyone.  I emailed the editor in chief, who I thought was a grown up adult, but turned out to be a 22-year-old history major.  (I addressed the email, “Mr. Mulder,” so yeah, I was obviously oblivious to what was going on.)  Having no experience in journalism, I was hoping to somehow, some way become involved with the newspaper.

(I still have no idea what drew me to it — I had never had any sort of drive to be involved with journalism, although my desire to pursue justice is one of my best-worst traits.)  I started as a copyeditor, started writing for two sections, became the editor of my own section, and now, four years later, am still in the Chimes office, squinting at computer screens at all hours of the night.

I never thought I would move far away — honest, I didn’t!  I am a true Michigander at heart, so the fact that I am leaving the mitten state for Indonesia, a country all the way across the world,  is hard for me to come to terms with.  More importantly, I can’t believe that I am leaving all of those people I love.

I never anticipated that I would invest so wholly in a group of people, and the mention of us fracturing and flying around the world makes me feel physically ill.  New York, Texas, China, Ohio, Japan … we have all made paths toward something yet unseen, and it breaks my heart that we won’t see it all together anymore.

But for you all who have to stay behind, don’t forget to love and cherish every day.  I read an article recently about memory. It claimed that by making a fist, memories could be preserved longer.  So, I recommend holding each memory tight in your hand.  Time flies, and you never know what country you will fly away to.

Will Montei, arts and entertainment editor (one semester on staff)

I barely graduated high school; my GPA was a wheezing 2.3. Not that I cared at the time. I was far busier trying to solve the Two Week Curse — a rare sickness that prevented girls from dating me for longer than two weeks. Thankfully, as I prepare to leave Calvin, I look back at these four years with much less regret and embarrassed sorrow.

Well…there was the time I tried to woo a girl in my math class with Spongebob drawings. That was pretty embarrassing. And the time I was walking around campus with my mom while she howled at the moon like a wolf. And the time I tortured my fellow RAs with rank gas following some delicious chili.

And the time freshman year when I volunteered to go up front during an IMPROV show and could not, for the life of me, remember any part of my day preceding that moment — those fifteen minutes of fame continue to haunt me to this day. And…well, I should leave it at that. My life is filled with embarrassment, but I don’t care anymore. At least my grades are good now.

I do care that I’ll be leaving a place I love. I love listening to lectures in Calvin’s spartan, sunless classrooms, getting burnt on Commons lawn, going to awesome concerts for free (the reason I started writing concert reviews for Chimes in the first place…free tickets, people), staying up late at night and talking with friends about God-knows-what, and “darkening the doorways” of my professors (as my wolf mom likes to say).

There will never be another Calvin in my life. And now I have to start worrying about taxes, insurance, and someday, maybe even babies. That is too much for a man that still glorifies a good poop joke.

And though I’ve only been an editor for a semester, I’m going to miss working and hanging out with all the Chimes doofs. Wednesday nights, grooving to music and laying out pages, have become the highlight of my week. I feel like I joined a cult — but a good cult. Without a crazy leader that tries to make us commit mass suicide. Good job, Abby.

I can only hope the next stage in life is just as fruitful as my time at Calvin has been. The geriatric people in my life tell me it will be, and I trust them. Goodbye, Calvin. I love you.

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Chimes Staff

The 2012-13 Chimes staff is proud to bring you news from the Calvin community!

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