Volume I, No. 4, Summer 1974




A BITTERSWEET YEAR


This has been a bittersweet year.

Over a year ago we started serious work collecting material for our first issue on the one-room country schools. For weeks last school year before we were officially a class or before we even had a name, we were interviewing, planning, organizing and thinking about what we wanted to become. When our photographs did not turn out, when tapes were ruined, when unfavorable weather cancelled our carefully laid plans, when we got lost, forgot to contact everyone involved--when innumerable annoying and unpleasant things happened, we knew it would not be easy. But when everyone helped and encouraged us, when we made new friends, when we returned from interviews excited, when the photographs coming out of the dark room were not only acceptable, but good, when a difficult story began to take shape, and when we finally held in our hands the finished magazine, to us beautiful beyond compare, we knew we were on to something fine. We knew then how appropriate was the name we had chosen--even in the word, the bitter comes before the sweet.

My job as teacher and advisor is to hold us all together while the students go their twenty-two different ways and to see to it that we come out with a unified accomplishment. I provide the opportunity for them to create something worthwhile and permanent while they grow, develop and learn.

BITTERSWEET is not just one person's ideas. It is all of ours, modified, added to and collectively decided upon by the group. Some features the authors do their own thing alone, like Jay Hillig's article on steam engines, page 5 ; others represent a small group effort under a student leader, like Jana's article, Visiting Daisy Cook, page 38; still others are total class projects under a student chairman like Ronnie's Sorghum Molasses--BITTERSWEET Style, Vol. I, No. 3, page 18.

I attempt to organize our time, coordinate all the activity, help with arrangements and anticipate the future, while teaching each student individually the things he needs to know for his particular assignment. If given the chance, high school students can accomplish whatever they want, but they cannot do it alone--not yet. That's where I come in--a sort of director behind the scenes, pulling, pushing, sometimes holding back, until everything miraculously falls into place and we have another magazine.

This issue completes the first volume. Unbelieveable almost. However, neither I nor any staff member ever doubted that we would do it. Basically we have done what we set out to do last year. But how could we fail with such school and community backing, subscribers who make it financially possible, and over a score of interested, enthusiastic, hardworking and creative staff members?

We see areas we need to improve, but we also see places we've surpassed our own original expectations. We have received bonuses where we had not expected, especially in our relations with one another, our contacts and our readers.

It has been a bittersweet year.

Ellen Massey

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Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.


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