For Lasso Online, it was the second year in a daring experiment. As last year’s editor Juliana Pearson put it, we were and are pioneers in the "New World of online publishing," a rather treacherous and unforgiving territory. Even as our nation faced uncertain times with the passing of the first anniversary of September 11th and mounting economic decline, we too found ourselves plagued by doubt: Would Lasso Online be popular enough to survive another year?
It would appear that the answer is a resounding "Yes." This year alone, Lasso Online published 86 news stories, 69 sports stories, 23 commentaries, 38 features, 31 reviews, and assembled three rather extensive online and print special editions. Of the nearly 58,000 visitors to our website since October of 2001, 41,000 came to us this year from points all over the world, ranging from Seattle to China to the Netherlands.
As a staff, we are fortunate to again have had the opportunity to be a vehicle for student expression in the George Mason and Falls Church community, and grateful to our readers, without whom we would not exist. Thanks for your letters to the editor and invaluable support throughout this especially challenging second year.
For the nation, it was a year marked by the continued threat of terrorism both at home and abroad, high profile child abductions, war with Iraq, and far too much reality television. During three terrible weeks in October, snipers held our community and the entire region hostage to their reign of randomly inflicted terror and death. And yet, we carried on.
For Masonites, it was our first year under the honor code, and yet another year of facing the inevitable morning traffic snarls. We reveled in our fair share of snow days as the community debated the location of a new middle school to accommodate our expanding student population. Yet this year, we were not only shaken by the events in the world around us, but suffered personal tragedy as well, particularly with the loss of three alumnae - Dana Wood and Jessica Szymanski of the Class of 2002 in a tragic car accident, and with the murder of 1993 graduate Margaret Muller in London. Students remained indoors and quiet during the days of the sniper attacks and threats of Iraqi bioterrorism. In a year of utmost adversity, our spirits were tried. And yet, we carried on.
With regards to Lasso Online, our own ability to ‘carry on’ to the finish line of another year would simply have been impossible without the continued support of our sponsor, Mr. Michael Hoover. He is a genuinely inspiring and helpful teacher and person, whose influence and guidance will surely be valued by students for years to come. I cannot begin to state my gratitude for all of his work to make Lasso Online a success these past two years. I would also like to thank the veritable "other half" of Lasso Online, computer guru Ms. Eileen Backofen, for her dedication and the many long hours she spent formatting, posting, and archiving every one of our stories. I also must thank Lasso Online’s first editor-in-chief, Juliana Pearson, in whose spirit of journalistic integrity and commitment I aspired to serve as her successor.
Of course, Lasso Online also could not exist without an equally dedicated and resourceful staff. Many thanks to my managing editor Sara "the Scary Bear" Kaplow, and to my ever-diligent assistant editor Kristin Sommers, for their priceless assistance. I’d also like to thank photo editors Kate O’Hara and Michael Miller for getting Candid Campus and countless other pictures taken, edited, and posted each week. Special thanks go to my cub reporters Andrea Genovese Soares and Rabita Aziz for taking on anything and everything their editors asked them to with a ready will, and to staffers and resident humorists Katie Rosenberger and Steven Gould for sharing their limitless Simpsons knowledge and otherwise keeping me sane. Thanks also to staffers Alex LaCoste, Loreto Martinez, Becky Roa, Tony Clark, Chris Campanelli, and John Ruffino for their efforts.
Finally, a big thank you to the numerous special contributors who assisted us throughout the year: Diana Amaya, David Applegate, Dan Bray, Mary Bumgarner, Ben Carter, Jessica Charter, Evan Cunningham, Brian Dickson, Paige Dorsey, Jordynn Fulton, Vineet Gorhandas, Brandon Greene, Alex Hahl, Evan Hamme, Mery Kanashiro, Maria Lara, Shannon McKittrick, Mark Murchie, KT Roberts, Kevin Robey, Eamonn Rockwell, Ana Rogers, Luke Rabin, Casey Smirniotopoulos, Principal Robert Snee, and anyone else I am certainly forgetting; as well as Bobby Kaplow, Herb Kaplow, and Molly Henneberg for sharing their journalistic wit and wisdom with the Lasso Online staff.
Come September, I’ll be a writer
on the staff of the Yellow Jacket at Randolph-Macon College, even
as I will still read Lasso Online for frequent updates on the Mason
community. This year we published nearly double the number of articles
written in Lasso Online’s first year, and I’m looking forward to
watching the paper grow even more in times to come. With news, features,
commentaries, sports, reviews, and photography, there truly is a job for
everyone. So if you haven’t joined the Lasso Online staff yet, consider
taking on the challenge as you strive for that finish line next year. For
now, though – carry on.
Tell us what you think. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org