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The Forge’s Beloved Senior Editors

Graduation tickets have been bought. Yearbooks have been flipped through. College merch has been worn and classes have been skipped. For most seniors, these last few days of school are to be spent relaxing and reminiscing on the past four years. For The Forge’s senior editors, however, this is no time to relax. They have worked tirelessly to add just one more edition in their portfolio of perfectly crafted newspapers, to release the paper you’re reading now. Our senior editors have spent hours, days, weeks, and years making The Forge into what it is today, and yet they still work hard to make the last edition of this year one that they’re proud to look back on. Five seniors, five different plans after graduation, but one common goal: to give a voice to the students of Santa Barbara High. 

Valeria Polanco, our news editor, has been writing for The Forge since her sophomore year. She had an opening in her schedule and so was put into the journalism class by her counselor without really knowing what it entailed. Following the COVID-19 lockdown, Polanco was “lost”, but she learned a lot from joining the paper. From her time spent on the newspaper, Valeria has gained writing skills and the ability to work with other people, which she is usually “not really good with…but you kind of have to learn how to work with people here.” She also learned the value of being “nosy” and paying attention to the world around her. Valeria hopes that these skills will transfer after graduation when she goes to Santa Barbara City College to study psychology and journalism. Valeria was the first Forge writer to publish an article written entirely in Spanish, and among the favorite articles she’s written was “Cambio en el Clima Durante Este Invierno.” She hopes that next year’s writers will continue to produce articles written in Spanish after she leaves and carry on her legacy in that way. 

James Sanchez is The Forge’s sports editor and he also manages our photos, videos and website. In addition to being on the newspaper, James is a part of the Multi Media Arts and Design Academy and the leadership group of MAD Studio. James joined The Forge in his junior year because he had an extra space to fill in his schedule, but “didn’t really know we had a paper” until he was an upperclassman. He says, “Instantly, I liked it a lot so I just kept going with it, and now I’m an editor, magically. I don’t know what happened there…I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I’ve always liked writing, but if I can use it in this sense of being a part of the paper, a group of people who all want a single objective, it’s really cool.” Sanchez’s favorite article was the first one that he ever wrote. It was about the rise of homeless encampments, and he enjoyed it because he did a lot of research and interviews for it, resulting in an article that “took up an entire page of the paper.” James has gained skills such as “how to be a better writer” and “how to stay curious” from working on the paper, as well as “…interviewing skills such as how to construct questions, how to be respectful and talk to people, especially professionals and people high up … it was a little nerve wracking at first but it gets easier with practice.” James will be attending San Diego State after graduation to study journalism and communications.

Ben Purvis is the arts and entertainment editor of The Forge and is also involved in the Visual Arts and Design Academy and VADA leadership. Purvis joined the newspaper last year because he “…escaped a class that I did not want to be in…I saw the [journalism] option on the list and I was like ‘Okay, I’ll give it a try,’ and I ended up loving it.” Purvis says that the newspaper has been a “really formative experience” for him and that he’s “gained a passion for writing” from it. Even though he’s only written for the paper for two years, Purvis sees The Forge community of writers as a significant one. “Being a part of a historical thing…a lineage of writers…has really ignited a passion in me and I have a new gratitude for this kind of community from it…the people here are very passionate about what they do and they truly care about The Forge and its legacy,” he says. While it has been hard work for Purvis and the other editors to restore the paper over the past two years, Purvis has enjoyed it because he gained an appreciation for The Forge’s active role in the community. Purvis will be attending UCLA in the fall to follow his passions in art and design and will continue writing for the newspaper there. 

Harlow Pennington is the features editor as well as the magazine editor. Harlow has been a part of VADA all four years, and joined the newspaper last year as a writer. While Pennington initially “didn’t even know it was a thing,” she saw The Forge in a classroom and instantly wanted to join. “I’d never seen it before and…someone wrote some prestigious article…and I was like ‘this is cool’ and so I wanted to join.” Pennington has enjoyed the transition from writer to editor, saying, “I think being an editor is definitely a different standpoint and I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with that…It’s such a big leadership role for me…I’ve never ran a group of people or taken a position like that, and having to be a part of the team was also different for me…it’s cool to be part of the legacy of The Forge and that I actually had a bigger role for at least a year in the history of it [was] pretty cool.” Pennington often wrote fashion articles for The Forge this year, but her favorite article that she’s written is from last year, a longer piece about summer and the ideals that teens connect the season with. Pennington enjoyed writing the article because it was “very prestigious and existential”.

ASB leadership, library advisory board, Green Club, Student UN, 0 period gardening, dance, and journalism. Anya McCue has always been hyper-involved in the SBHS community, but she added the title editor-in-chief of The Forge to that list of extracurricular activities this year. McCue started journalism in the fourth grade, and from there went on to write for The Condor Press at SBJHS as well as The Forge since her freshman year. “I’ve always wanted to be editor-in-chief, and now here I am,” she says. McCue calls The Forge her “favorite part” of SBHS because of the connection she has gained to the students, staff, and overall history of Santa Barbara High. The most powerful skill that McCue has accomplished through the newspaper is leadership. In her words, “As editor-in-chief you learn a lot of skills about managing the business and program as a whole. There’s a lot of work with fundraising and also with students…I learned a lot from that experience. Also learning how to be self-motivated and…how to do things for myself for the product of something bigger than me.” While McCue doesn’t have a favorite article that she’s written, she loves writing her student features because she feels “so honored” to “sit in a room with someone and [have] them tell their story. [It’s] such a cool experience [to] be able to tell that story for them…Articles like that that make me feel closer to my community and…like I’m telling a story that’s relevant, and also makes people feel like their side of the story is being heard.” Anya will be going to UC Berkeley and majoring in English following her departure from SBHS. “After that,” she says, “we’ll see where the wind takes me.”

While it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to our five senior editors, the rest of The Forge staff will be eternally grateful for the contributions of these amazing writers. Without the help of Valeria, James, Ben, Harlow, and Anya, The Forge could not be what it is today. While each editor has their own unique legacy that they leave behind, their common commitment to the Santa Barbara High community will be remembered for the entirety of The Forge’s future. 

[Image credit: Mary Moses]


  • Mary Moses

    Mary Moses is a junior at Santa Barbara High School and has been a member of The Forge for three years. She also plays for the tennis team and enjoys reading, going to the beach, and spending time with friends in her free time.

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