Senior Spotlight: Jocelyn Lear, editor-in-chief

Jocelyn Lear is the editor-in-chief of the Cub, vice president of SADD, secretary of the Debate Club, and one of the many students who make BASH proud.

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Anna Monaco-Lear

Jocelyn Lear, who was the editor-in-chief of Cub this year, has written for the school newspaper three years now. She formerly wrote for the East Observer.

Jocelyn Lear is one of about 500 graduating seniors of the class of 2020, a class unarguably unique for its end-of-the-year outbreak, the COVID-19 crisis being a pandemic unparalleled in recent memory. The students are facing circumstances unlike any other — an altered graduation, a delayed prom, and being distinct with the underclassmen as finishing their school year virtually.

Throughout all of this, editor-in-chief Jocelyn Lear has kept up with the news and kept the readers of the BASH Cub updated at every moment. She belongs to the first class to be given senior quotes in their yearbook in nearly a decade, and her quote was derived from James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, Tell me, what is this thing about time? Why is it better to be late than early? People are always saying, we must wait, we must wait. What are they waiting for?” 

Her belief is such a quote promotes urgency and captures her message to her peers, “everybody always picks like reminiscent ‘Oh my god, we had the best times’ but I’d rather do something that brings out the sense of urgency that I personally feel for the future.” 

Literature is a big influence for Jocelyn, her always having a fondness for Salinger, author of her favorite book, The Catcher in the Rye, much of her love for it stemming from the natural voice.

I love the sort of stream of consciousness writing, it shows their actual emotions and stuff, it seems like the person is talking and not like theyre reading out very specific lines in a scholarly way. I prefer the sort of slang, colloquial writing,” she said.

The writing style makes it more personal for her “because it has a voice, and every single English teacher I’ve ever had has always said that I have a very passionate voice in my writing.”

She went into the school year with high hopes to simply understand her most difficult class, AP Calculus AB. However, her plans were ruined with COVID-19.

Jocelyn embarked on some broadcast projects, including the Live Day series and coverage of the Girls’ Soccer state win (pictured interviewing coach Bill Goddard), often alongside Opinions Editor Blaze Myers. (Blaze Myers)

“I was doubling down on it the last few months, working harder and harder, and then it got cut off,” she said, “so I never really got to succeed in that, because after school closed I lost a lot of motivation for everything. It kind of makes me feel a little worse about myself because I didn’t manage to succeed in doing what I wanted.”

But the year didn’t start with coronavirus, and hopes were high at the beginning of the year with her role as editor-in-chief under a new adviser bringing a lot to the table. While being editor-in-chief was stressful, she felt it was the “best thing [she’d] done in her academic career.” She felt that in years past, previous editors-in-chief took too little initiative as leaders and had delegated much of the command to the former adviser, Ms. O’Brien. The Cub’s new adviser, Ms. Kraus, was a fresh breath of air for a shared leadership dynamic between the two roles, leading to more experimentation and greater popularity than in previous years.

Jocelyn finds the new direction taken with the Cub by Ms. Kraus to be positive, “I really love the changes that she’s done with the journalism class, she’s revamped it and she’s really good at making us self-motivated while also keeping us on track; if some people aren’t writing too often she’ll assign something that they might find interesting.” Their experimentation with the Cub has led to video interviews, a stronger relationship with the TV News, and a short-lived student-hosted podcast. 

With all of the stress of running a club, finding motivation is key, and Jocelyn’s greatest motivation was her friends, her fellow Cub editor PJ Riddell particularly.

“He helped a lot with motivating me, I could always vent to him and he would always give me a deep response and then we would both collectively be like, ‘Alright, let’s stop complaining,'” she said.

Her motivation also came through her teachers, especially her current and past English teachers, Mr. DiLanzo and Mr. Repko.

“Mr. Dilanzo and Mr. Repko both motivated me in different ways,” Jocelyn said. “Repko would always give me the sort of personal talk conversations where we would sort of relate, and then DiLanzo would motivate me in my writing and in my classwork; he would make me feel like what I was doing was worth doing.”

Her English teacher Mr. DiLanzo actually shared the distinction of teaching her favorite class of her senior year, AP Literature, tied only with Mr. Bleiler’s Global Issues course.

“The things we read [in AP Lit] were super interesting, and if I weren’t already open-minded it would’ve opened my mind to the Congo and all that stuff,” she said. “And Global Issues is sort of the same thing, it just shows you the reality of the world and in every region, not just the U.S. and Europe. In both classes the material that we learned was an extension of the teacher.” 

However, her school year wasn’t only defined by the courses she had been enrolled in, but the many clubs she’d been a member of, and one of which she even helped found. Besides being the editor-in-chief of the Cub, Jocelyn was also the Secretary and one of four founders of the Debate Club, the Vice President of SADD, regular crew member of Insight, part of Mr. DiLanzo’s Book Club, and a Stage Crew member distinguished by three productions over six years.

Jocelyn has worked at Longacres Modern Dairy for two years alongside her many club and academic roles. With the new restrictions, her work requires the use of masks and gloves. (Marissa Hager)

Her history throughout her clubs, such as Cub, was gradual but led to recognized leadership in nearly each one. She started her first year in the Cub with a typical position: “I was a staff writer, and my second year I was Web Editor where I basically did everything that had to do with the site; I changed formatting, I edited articles, I set up slideshows, I did all that stuff. and my third year in Cub, I was editor-in-chief.”

Her position in other clubs, such as Insight or Book Club, was as an influential member despite these clubs lacking any real hierarchy, well appreciated by Mr. Cherkasky and Mr. DiLanzo respectively for her dedication to quality camera work and literature analysis. In stage crew, she, “participated in musicals both in the junior high and here at the high school,” where she typically did spotlight. Finally, founding the Debate Club and finding such success within it is what she considers one of her greatest club achievements, leading to such school relevance that it had a rivalry with the FBLA. 

When it comes to her clubs, they are without a doubt a core of her identity: “I live to work. I am a workaholic and a motivated worker, it’s something that I put into all my clubs. SADD is just me wanting to help others, Debate Club is me just wanting to argue and also help others become better at debating, and Cub is like a mini-model of what I want to do as a career. My other clubs are all just kind of hobbies, like Stage Crew and Insight, I like working with tech and knowing how things work.”

Along with her clubs, she believes herself a product of the art and media she’d been influenced by.

“A mixture of the books I read, the shows I watch, the people I interact with, and the things that I write are all a reflection of what I believe in and also impact how I live and what I believe in,” Jocelyn said.

While she believes her popularity was on the humble end, her name was known either by the display case showing off her plaque for her award-winning Dracula review, her huge influence in the many clubs she participated in, or the monthly emails she sent throughout the school to catch people up on school news. She comments that, “most people don’t really think anything of me, but people in my grade might think that I’m nice, or just shy… that kinda thing.” 

But while her seven hours (or more, depending on whether it was Monday for Stage Crew meetings, Wednesday for Debate Club discussions, or Thursday for an Insight episode) at school were a large chunk of her day, it definitely wasn’t all of it. Jocelyn, like many students, works for a living.

I’ve been working at Longacre’s for two years now,” she said. “It’s a dairy, so we serve a lot of ice cream.”

The impact of her work on her school was positive thanks to good time management abilities, and her paycheck allowed her life-changing experiences.

I was able to go on two school trips that I paid almost entirely myself, except for about 50 to 100 dollars for each of them. I was a little short for both trips, but I got help from my parents,” she said. “I was able to go to Costa Rica, which has greatly impacted my life, and I was able to go on the senior trip which has also positively impacted my life. So it’s made those decisions that I’ll never forget.”

The life-changing quality of these trips is inherent in the independence they offered.

I felt like I was more on my own than ever before because I never really traveled without my parents, I’d never been out of state without them, I never really went on a vacation without family,” she said. “So going to Costa Rica, another country, I’d never done that before. It was beautiful, the food was delicious, and Costa Rica is such a pretty country. That kinda reflects ideals that I would like to incorporate into my own life, like environmentalism. Disney was a similar independence thing.” 

Other influences in her life come from music.

I love Bleachers, Jack Antonoff, he is a great musician, he’s a great person, I also love Jeremy Zucker’s music,” Jocelyn said. “They’re just a way for my to verbalize emotions that I feel when it feels like I can’t and it gives me like a way of relating to people on an emotional level that I didn’t have prior to the musician.” 

Lots of students throughout the world are molded by music, and the influences can sometimes be quintessential for the individual. One of Jocelyn’s most impactful songs of the year was “comethru” by Jeremy Zucker.

“The lyrics are just about how he needs somebody to come through because he’s not handling things very well on his own, and it’s just like about how he’s not afraid to rely on other people. And that’s something I can relate to because with work I get overwhelmed, and then basically it feels like I’m drowning. I’ve always related to that,” she said. “That’s why friends to me are usually family or closer than family.” 

Other media have influenced her as well, some of her favorite shows being Marvel’s The Punisher, Agents of S.H.I.E.LD., and the timeless British show Doctor Who, a progenitor of countless pop cultural icons.

“It’s more of a family show and it goes into deeper levels, it addresses love, it addresses how things end, and that’s very important to me.”

Last year, Jocelyn went on the Spanish class trip to Costa Rica, which had a great impact on her. She is considering minoring in Spanish. (Location: Manuel Antonio National Park) (Tiana Gallagher)

Jocelyn plans to pursue journalism in her future, which she sees as an art form in itself but more of a public service. She’s had wants to become a career journalist since the fifth grade, and holds some organizations as her models for a good newspaper: “[Washington Post and New York Times] are pretty balanced, they’re left leaning, but they are fairly neutral which is like, they have very sound journalistic ethics,” she said.

When it comes to being a student journalist in the high school, Jocelyn believes the role is rewarding but that she has only begun delving into journalism. Being a student journalist has helped her prepare for it as a career.

As school goes, it was actually really nice to learn over the years how to interview, how to interact with people, so that way I’m not awkward, how to get good questions, how to get people to answer in a way that I want them to. Like, it’s taught me how to write and refined how I write,” she said.

Cub is but one of the many clubs present here at BASH, and while Jocelyn isn’t a member of all of them, she believes that the club culture in Boyertown is unique. She noted that clubs became a student’s life as they realized how much work and effort it took to keep them running, and that “At BASH, a club almost becomes a family.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has cut short plans for everything, Jocelyn was proud of the Cub continuing to run after the school closure. She believes her own persistence with it is representative of her work ethic, which has largely defined her as a student.

I would say I’m a good student in that I ask questions when I need to, and I do my best,” she said. “I would say I’m not the best academically because a lot of people learn quicker than me, such as in AP Calc. The subjects that I care about, pretty much all subjects, I try my best in.” 

As an accomplished senior, Jocelyn advises younger students to seize the moment and look into their options and make decisions because they’ll regret if they don’t. “Just go out and take the classes that you want as well, if you’re interested in video production take the telecom classes, that sorta thing. Make the most of your opportunities, while they’re still free.” As for her fellow seniors, she insists that her peers, “Don’t get stuck in high school, don’t get stuck with the past,” and to move on from any regrets because the future is ripe with opportunity. 

Jocelyn is looking to earn a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications at Bloomsburg University while seeking to double that with political science to earn her an edge in covering political news, and also achieve a minor in Spanish due to her interests in international journalism. She is a product of her town and the people around her, and life has only begun for her as a journalist.

And in these times, it’s important to remember the value of our journalists.

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