On Sundays, my sister and I would race barefoot down the steps, out our blue front door, across our rocky driveway to where it meets the road. There we would find the bright orange bag with Sunday’s edition of The Denver Post. The stubbed toes and early-morning labored breaths were worth it for the glory of being the one to grab it first, race back to the kitchen, and present it to our Dad. My sister would often return to bed while I sat with my parents at our well-worn, sharpie-stained, crumb-filled kitchen table. I’d close my eyes, breathe in the smell of cheap paper and ink, and beg my mom to tell me what she was reading.
I travelled to New York in second grade. I don’t remember the details of the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty, but I vividly remember being on the subway looking to the left and seeing a newspaper written in Mandarin. It was a newspaper, yes, and the smell was the same I’d come to know, but it felt so unfamiliar and unsettling seeing Chinese characters in lieu of the English alphabet. It was then that I realized our newspapers are a connection to our communities, whether it be a local community or the global community as a whole. They provide a key lens through which we interpret our world.
Even though I was born nearly a year after 9/11, the iconic photograph of the North Tower in flames printed in every major American publication is burned into my memory. The image of Patrick Ireland – commonly referred to as the “boy in the window”– fighting for his life during the Columbine shooting still haunts me. The image of a soldier embracing his girlfriend on V–J Day is as familiar as the photos that hang on the walls of my house. Newspapers serve as a time machine, allowing me to glance into the past and to embrace it as my own, creating vital ties to our history. However, it is not only the tragic or notable aspects of the paper that bring forth a sense of community. I find solace in the satirical comics at the end and walk away with a new restaurant or historical-fiction recommendation. I think it’s fun to look at the help-wanted advertisements or flip through the classifieds and daydream about who exactly is going to answer the phone if you call about the 2014 Chevrolet with 88,000 miles.
On Sunday mornings I still bring my dad the paper but then get in my car to gather with 10 other linguistic-obsessed peers in a chronically freezing, poorly lit classroom to create Monday’s edition of the SunDevils’ Advocate. I’m keenly aware of the community we are creating. Our crossword highlights Kent Denver trivia. The commentary section is made personal by my own knowledge of the author. One of our staple features is a segment called, “What’s Cool in the Upper School” in which our entire student body is invited to respond to a series of questions, and the results are printed. The SunDevils’ Advocate is uniquely Kent Denver and provides insider perspective on our student body.
Newspapers continue to challenge me, ground me, and keep me asking questions all at the same time: a combination of knowledge, ideas, and culture. The strings of characters elegantly woven together to persuade, inform, and educate are mesmerizing. Newspapers, in their entirety, offer us unification that outweighs the political polarization that can accompany certain sources. The era of print journalism is certainly waning, but we should never underestimate the power of the written word.