Intro by Amber Greene ’24, Ciara Latchman ’24, Mary Mecheal ’24, and Stephanie Mutuku ’24
It is Checkerboard tradition for the past editors to sign off and reflect on their experiences writing for the school paper. When you write four editions per year it becomes second nature.
The Class of 2023 have expressed their feelings about leaving Checkerboard and wish the new staff all the best in writing for the next issues. Alum Kaili Martinez-Beasley says ‘Becoming a co-editor for Checkerboard caused [her] to step outside of [her] comfort zone”. Kaili now attends Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania where she is majoring in Sociology and Data Science.
A second alumnae and co-editor of 2022-2023 school year Kendall Mathis reflected on how Checkerboard “ has immensely helped my writing skills” and allowed her “to talk to other students [she] might not have spoken to if it weren’t for the club”. Kendall is studying baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America.
The final editor of checkerboard last year, Kelly Miller, took a different approach to her farewell letter and used her letter to write in a similar style to the current events features of Checkerboard. Kelly wrote about women in the workforce in the context of the Rerum Novarum. She is now at Wash U studying Business and Economics.
In these addresses the previous editors give their well-wishes for the incoming writers and new editors. We wish the alum only the best in their college experience and thank them for all they have done for Checkerboard! – The 2024 Checkerboard Editors
My Time in Checkerboard
I joined Checkerboard in my Junior year and I’m so glad I did. When I joined, I was immediately stressed and I didn’t want to let anyone down. I didn’t tell anybody and now I see how silly I had been. Writing is one of the few things that has always come somewhat easily to me. Yes, I rewrite and edit and delete and take breaks and add a few unnecessary commas. It is in this process, though, that I figure out exactly what I want to say and how I’m going to say it. I’m proud of where I’ve gotten. Checkerboard has immensely helped my writing skills and I got to talk to other students I might have spoken to if it weren’t for the club. If there’s one thing I could take home from this year it would be that I should’ve done Checkerboard much earlier. Huge thank you to Kaili and Kelly for being great editors to work with and Ms. McFarlane for being a great advisor. Good luck to the upcoming editors, I know you will come up with great ideas! It’s been an incredible journey. I think all that’s left to say now is: Thank you, thank you, thank you!
It’s hard to imagine a year of my life without Checkerboard. I have been a member of the club for four years and have been editing the paper for two. Now, as I pass the torch to next year’s editors, I can’t help but reflect on my highschool experience and how closely Checkerboard is tied to it. As a freshman, I was very shy and placid, yet I knew that becoming my school’s newspaper editor was my one of ultimate goals. As I continued to devote time and effort into the tasks required of me as a member of the writing staff, I came closer and closer to that goal; eventually I was able to achieve it by my junior year. Yet, what I did not expect to get out of my involvement with Checkerboard was heightened self-confidence and the inclination to voice and share my opinions. Becoming a co-editor for Checkerboard caused me to step outside of my comfort zone and be assured in my abilities. Whether it be leading club meetings or adding corrections to the club’s next edition, I had to have faith that I could do everything to the best of my ability and well. Checkerboard also taught me how to take criticism and feedback from those I work with. I’ve learned to find pleasure in disagreements, and I always appreciate when other club members feel comfortable enough to bring up new ideas or tell me that they would like to see something change. Checkerboard is not just the go to source for school news but a platform students can use to amplify their voices. My favorite Checkerboard article that I wrote was the one on rights to repair because it allowed me to present a social issue I am interested in while providing my personal insight, and Checkerboard still affords such an opportunity to students. Through Checkerboard, I have been able to connect more with the community and world in and outside of school, making me a more empathetic and well-informed individual. As my senior year finishes and my job as Checkerboard’s co-editor comes to an end, I become more thankful for the freshman me who did not let her reservations get the best of her. So, I’ll end my farewell with advice for students continuing their high school journey: try not to let your anxiety get the best of yet; instead, try to harness it and use it as a way to push yourself towards new experiences and achievements. You’ll always regret not doing the things you dreamed of doing, but you’ll never regret following your passions and finding something you love.
Kelly Miller ’24
The Situation of the Working Class: Exploited Women in the Workforce
With the coming 20th century, individuals within the late 1800s were realizing scientific, secular, and economical pressures and powers with the Industrial Revolution. It sent people at odds with each other as the traditional tried to overcome the new, nontraditional lifestyles that were emerging. This was especially true for the religious aspect and those who believed that societal and economical outlooks had to be controlled by the Catholic Church. With novel scientific ideologies that came from thinkers such as Darwin, Mendel, and Pasteur, introducing breakthroughs in science and technology, a new caste of people was established: employers. Additionally, along with other factors in which the Catholic power lost its army, navy, and arms through Napoleon Bonaparte’s conquest, this meant that, for the Catholic Church to regain some semblance of authority, Rerum Novarum, the catalyst for the acknowledgment of social issues in the world, was created. The encyclical sought to turn the church toward a more pastoral than hostile approach to life, confronting what the Bible did not offer answers for. In admitting that there is unease in the situation of the working class, Rerum Novarum acknowledges the equity all workforces should employ to ensure that employees are well-treated; this idealistic approach from the perspective of Pope Leo XIII has barely made a dent in the lifestyles of economically disadvantaged women today.
The case of the Lowell Mill Girls’ factory in Massachusetts marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 1840s and set the tone for inopportune employee-employer relationships in Bangladesh in the 2000s. The flux of immigrants at the time brought in many who were willing to work under poor conditions for meager earnings. The desperation of early immigrants allowed American capitalists to take advantage of them, exploiting them. Those susceptible were female factory workers that toiled under twelve-hour days with little to no regulations. The building structures of the workplace were poor and it housed dangerous machinery where many women were faced with exhaustion that increased machine-related accidents. Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical stresses that working for the sake of gain is necessary for an earnest life but, “to misuse [women] as though they were things in the pursuit of gain, or to value them solely for their physical powers – that is truly shameful and inhuman.” This is exactly what the male employers took these immigrants for: “things” that were dispensable. The Pope is trying to introduce the idea that the longevity of an institution comes from employee-employer relations, and if the employer is just, then the employee too will find fulfillment in working. Despite that understanding, as much as they were aware that these women worked at their own risk, there was little to ensure their safety and if someone was injured, there was no workers’ compensation established. This idea is paralleled with the current working conditions of women in Bangladesh. Instead of working looms or complex machinery powered by the development of coal, these women sewed on machines inhaling the suffocating air of fibers and breathing inadequate air from faulty buildings that would not pass inspections. This modernized slavery is an uncanny repeat of an employer’s greed for money through the exploitation of their employees that are not able to seek out broader opportunities. In fact, not only the bosses are at fault in this cycle of “fast fashion” but as consumers, our need for instantaneous gratification and cheap wardrobes pushes these South Asian women, leaving a trail of environmental damage behind. When capitalists gain control of the global market, especially through the use of social media platforms, they gain large sums of revenue while these young and desperate women in the working class have no choice but to settle for negligible wages. Pope Leo XIII’s stance is against this kind of behavior since there is no harmony between both the laborer and the employer. He claims that bettering the conditions of the working class must involve the “rightful means” by which “a spirit of equity” must be infused “into [these] mutual relations.” This beautiful line is another example of how the Pope wants there to be common ground between both sects so that the employee may find fulfillment in working and the employer may obtain a “bound of moderation” that allows him or her to act with equity in mind so that both classes can rightfully contribute to the “body politic.” Yet, given the detrimental conditions of these workers, what the encyclical preaches is difficult to secure as clothing stems toward luxury and labels because of human supply and demand. In the context of the encyclical in 1891, the appearance of the captains of industry during the Revolution pushed for the widespread mechanized processes for making clothes, and today, those ideas do not differ so drastically when one considers the technologically advanced world we are approaching. Unfortunately, capitalists today, as much as capitalists then, are eager for profits and production enough to neglect the well-being of their employees. In 2013, Rana Plaza, the name of the textile building in Bangladesh later collapsed, killing over a thousand in the process. Yet, our need for instantaneous wealth as owners and sudden gratification as consumers remains. Nonetheless, in the broader scheme, the message of the Pope is to allow everyone to contribute to the public and as his encyclical intends to guide Catholics to act honorably to support one another, that is what we as a global community must embody, no matter the time.
Whether it be in the 1800s or 2000s, there have been instances in which the inappropriate conditions employees are made to work under, leave them compromised, going against the ideology Pope Leo XIII envisioned for the situation of the working class. As the years keep growing larger, there are some things that are not bound to change anytime soon. There are barriers such as societal standards, luxury brands, and our lack of awareness when it comes to those who are exploited at our expense. When clothes were on looms, people knew the person making their clothes. No one can say that that is still our reality when more than half our clothing is made overseas. At first, clothing was designed to keep the sun off our backs, but today, it is this closed view of wanting things but not thinking about where they’re coming from that hinders us from embodying the idea of harmony, the ideology that Pope Leo XIII promoted toward the working class.