Young Michael Says Goodbye to The Oracle

I’ll never forget my first story meeting with The New Paltz Oracle. I came to SUNY New Paltz with this vague intention to become a sports journalist, so I figured the first step in that process would be to join my school’s newspaper. Then-sports editor Kristen Warfield told me that there was only one story available for the week, a sport that I had never heard of before, field hockey. Flash forward three years later and not only was I writing every field hockey article for The Oracle, I was also covering field hockey for the athletic communications department. 

That just goes to show you how much I grew during my time on The Oracle. I had never written a sports article before joining, and now I’ve written hundreds. The Oracle gave me a chance to hone my skills and discover a passion that I didn’t have before attending college. I now find myself about to graduate having worked in the sports section all four years and the athletic communications department for three. It is that very reason that I have to cut my time at The Oracle a bit shorter than I intended to. It’s time for me to start focusing on where I will be when I graduate and how far the skills I’ve learned over these four years will get me, but not before saying goodbye. To anyone that is not mentioned in this reflection, I apologize. I had the pleasure of working with so many wonderful people while on staff, and unfortunately I can’t include all of them.

To all of the new copy editors on staff, I’m sorry that we did not have much time together. Knowing that I would have to sacrifice getting to know you guys better was one reason this was such a tough decision. Although I haven’t worked with you guys long, I see so much potential in this staff. You all have already shown dedication and passion that this paper needs, and I have been shocked with just how quickly you have all adjusted to being on staff. You guys are the next generation of this paper, and it is in good hands.

Brandon and Jimmy, I leave the sports section to you guys. Brandon, I know what it’s like to be a freshman and work in this section. You have asked me dozens of questions since joining, which proves to me you have a willingness to learn and improve. I hope you stay in this section for as long as I did. Jimmy, I know it’s intimidating to become a page editor after only being on staff for a few weeks, but I’m fully confident you will do the section justice. I’m happy a fellow Mets fan is taking over, and I know you are going to do great things as the new sports editor.

Abbott, it’s strange to me that I’m the last one on staff who got to experience your wonderfully-crazed leadership. I remember not long after I joined you told the staff how you’ve walked into apartments of student-athletes who had Oracle articles on their walls. That instilled in me this mentality that maybe not everyone will read my work, but it may mean a lot to those that do. I can’t thank you enough for that, and “fingerpaint with their tongues” is still my favorite quote of all time.

Nate, you are far and away the most worldly person I’ve met in my entire life. If my life depended on someone answering an unknown question on any topic imaginable, I’d go with you. I hope Cali is treating you well, and you know if I’m ever in the area that I’m dragging you to an Oakland Athletics game.

Kristen, if there was anyone that took me under their wing when I first joined staff it was you. Being my first sports editor, I had so many questions and you had the patience for all of them. It still amazes me how you conducted yourself in such a professional manner amidst all of the neurotic psychopaths that you worked with, myself included. Now you’re saving the world one animal at a time, and there’s no one better suited to do so. 

Jess, the fact that we never got to listen to Nevermind on vinyl will go down as one of the biggest regrets of my college career. In an office filled with loud, opinionated voices, your quiet but friendly personality fit right in. If I ever write a dictionary for some reason, I’m just going to put your picture next to the word “angel.”

Mandy Manderz, having met you before either of us joined the Oracle and then doing so at the exact same time told me that we were destined to be friends. Thanks for being the Jewish mother I never had, and I am eternally in debt to you for convincing me to grow facial hair. If Besançon ever gets a baseball team and needs a beat reporter, please hit me up. Also, bring back the wingtip eyeliner, part of me really misses it.

Sam, Bluntzella is the greatest nickname this staff has ever come up with, and you owned that title like a boss. I’ve never met someone who is such a strong writer in so many different areas. Your work with NewNowNext is making the world a better place, and we should all be so thankful to have you in our lives. I know one day I’m going to show my kids one of your articles and say “I was lucky enough to work with her.”

Meg, I don’t care what you say, the first thing I ever said to you was, “My name is Michael and you’re going to be making fun of me a lot soon.” If only I knew the truth behind that statement at the time. But even though you roasted me to death sometimes, you have one of the kindest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met. I know you’re going to bring joy wherever you end up in your life, and you’ll be blasting “Wannabe” on a constant loop in the process. 

Anthony, my beautiful blue-eyed prince. Knowing that I was going to have you as a copy editor when I first became sports editor made the job so much less stressful. Your work improved so much while you were on staff, and after working with you I know you’re going to go far in this profession. The kid who won best eyes over you in high school ain’t got nothing on you. 

Mother Mel, I’m convinced that the tone in which you say my name is going to be ingrained in my head forever. Of all my peers, you were the one I went through the most production nights with. Having someone to reminisce on old times at The Oracle with made me feel like we were two old farts in a retirement center. Thanks for being such a good friend to me, even if you almost killed me at the gym a few times along the way.

Julia, even though you are relatively new to the staff you are also one of the longest tenured members. You’re going to continue to do great things with this paper and be one of the biggest members of this new generation. Also your apple pie was delicious, I might take a daytrip to the bakery you got it from.

Natalie, ooooooh! Make sure that at all times at least three people on staff are doing that. I hope whenever you use InDesign you hear my voice in your head giving you directions. The features section is lucky to have you.

Madalyn, it didn’t take you long to adjust to being a page editor. You rose through the ranks quickly, deservedly so. You’re going to be a big part of this paper moving forward, and I hope you hold onto that Bob Ross shirt forever. 

Matt, you quickly became a key member of the sports section and because of that I know you’re going to continue to do well with news. I relied on you pretty heavily early in your Oracle career, and for good reason. Not only are you a great writer, but you’re a great person as well. You’re one of my favorite Yankees fans, and trust me that is saying something.

Rob, I liked you from the moment I met you. I was fortunate enough to have you as a copy editor for two semesters and you helped me run the sports section in more ways than one. Don’t forget about me when you become a beat reporter for the Mets, if anyone can do it it’s you. And the next time they make the playoffs, however long that may be from now, we have to go to a game together.

Rachael, I always told you that in my reflection I would just write “have a great summer.” Considering it’s the middle of winter, it wouldn’t make much sense to say that. So instead I will say that you are the hardest working person I’ve met in my entire life and you’re going to be more successful than any of us know. I know the paper is going through a lot of change right now, but there is no one more qualified to lead it through these changes than you. Thank you for being one of the most caring friends I’ve ever had, even if you can cause me levels of embarrassment I didn’t know were possible. 

There is one last person I want to talk about, and if he’s reading this he knows exactly who he is. For those of you fortunate enough to have never met Jack O’Brien, all you need to know about him is that I’m Jack. But you should also know that Jack is one of the friendliest and smartest people I’ve ever met. He did so much for this paper when he was in charge, and I’ve missed him more than I can put into words this year. If not for Jack, my college career would have been infinitely worse. Thank you for being the big brother I always wanted, and I can’t wait to ruin your campaign when you run for office.

Joining The Oracle was the best decision I made in my time at college. I became infinitely better in this field and met some wonderful people along the way. Any sort of success I achieve in the future can be traced to my time here. Thank you Oracle, I hope your orange walls stay up longer than any of us can fathom.