Signing Off

Co-Editors-in-Chief Avani Kashalikar and Olivia Downin Move On
Signing Off

As the Class of 2024 earned their diplomas Saturday, June 1, The Big Red sent off its Co-Editors-in-Chief, Avani Kashalikar and Olivia Downin to the University of Virginia and Bridgewater State respectively this fall.

Both took time this past month to sit down and reflect on their time with the paper.

Although Kashalikar plans to major in Chemistry from a young age, she has always been interested in writing.

Salutatorian and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Big Red Avani Kashalikar |by Ella Spuria (Ella Spuria)

“When I was younger, my dream job was to be an author,” she stated. “That has definitely changed now, but I think a part of that will always stay with me. I love being able to share stories about the world around me and journalism offered the perfect opportunity for that.”

Following her eighth grade English class with Jacqueline Paton, the Journalism teacher and Club Advisor, signing up for the course was a no-brainer. 

“I loved the way she [Ms. Paton] talked about her journalism class. She was one of the main reasons that I decided to take it.”

During her time at Hudson High School, Kashalikar could be found in the Morgan Bowl playing on the Varsity Field Hockey team or managing the Girls Varsity Lacrosse team in the spring. Other than the student newspaper, she was a member of a number of clubs such as the Environmental club and Writing Center, and was even President of the Outdoor club.

In Downin’s years at HHS, she had made a name for herself on the track, captaining both the Girls Varsity Track & Field and Cross Country. She was also a member of the Yearbook club and even spent some time in the musicals of the Drama Society.

Girls Varsity Track Captain and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Big Red Olivia Downin before the ceremony |by Ella Spuria (Ella Spuria)

Other than breaking the 4×8 outdoor school record, writing has always been something Downin has been interested in as well. 

“I like talking to people,” said Downin. “Getting to know new people and then putting that into words.”

Being more of a creative writer, she originally signed up to take the Creative Writing elective offered at HHS, but didn’t get into the class. This led to her placement in Journalism instead. This fault in scheduling turned out for the better. When it comes to writing articles, her creative side remains. Personality and profile pieces are some of Downin’s favorites to write.

“I can confidently say that not getting what I wanted was one of the best things to happen in my high school career,” said Downin. “Ever since I was placed in the class sophomore year, I kept signing up to come back.”

For Downin it was the class and the club that has helped her branch out into the social and bubbly person many know her to be today. It would certainly be unexpected to her ‘shy’ and ‘little’ sophomore self that she would eventually become one of the Editors-in-Chief of the paper.

“I didn’t like talking to others,” she claimed. “But Journalism really helped me come out of my shell and talk to a lot of people.”

Kashalikar felt the same, saying she was incredibly shy and socially awkward as well.

“While the latter does remain true,” Kashalikar began, “I have become far more comfortable with speaking to others and being myself.”

Kashalikar began her time with the Big Red as a lone freshman in a class full of seniors. This year, Kashalikar was a senior leading the paper.

She said it was those upperclassmen of the 2021 staff who inspired her most when it came to the job as an Editor-in-Chief.

“I remember seeing the fervor with which they approached the class and wanted to emulate that in all aspects of my life.”

Kashalikar said she has significantly grown throughout her years in The Big Red too, not just as a person but as a writer.

“Through journalism, my writing has shed a lot of the superfluousness it previously had. I can easily write faster, clearer and with a better flow.”

Other than the editors growing themselves, with the world becoming digitalized, the news world has also been changing for a number of years, providing people more information than ever before.

As Kashalikar put it, “The News is no longer the only source of information, yet the standards that it has are unparalleled.”

The technological effect on the news was not something unfamiliar to Kashlikar and Downin. News has always been something digital during Kashalikar and Downin’s time at the Big Red. But with a high school career covered by masks and divided by plexiglass at lunch, their beginnings in the Big Red were especially consumed by technology.

I started journalism in the midst of covid,” Kashalikar recalled. “We had the class in the second semester and trying to interview people throughout that was crazy.”

Rather than face-to-face interviews, Kashalikar’s first interviews were done through a screen, but these Instagram DMs and Facetimes remain memorable even all these years later. In fact, her favorite article came from her freshman year. Titled “Speaking Out”, Kashalikar’s first solo article covered the rise of Asian hate, a creation she’s still proud of to this day.

And out of all her pieces, Downin stated that her favorite was from her first year too. “Stormy Sea of Confusion” was one of the more controversial in the past four years, covering the racist events that happened in HHS’s own Red Sea during a football game in 2021. This ended up being Downin’s first award-winning piece for the New England Scholastic Press Association.

Downin reflected the difficulties that came when covering it, and even her fears. 

“I was a little scared publishing it,” she said. “But it was good to win an award to recognize the hard work paying off.”

With writers like Kashalikar and Downin on the staff, the pick for this year’s Co-Editors-In-Chiefs was evident. And they both agree that it was a perfect fit.

“Being Editor-in-Chief has always felt normal to me, since I was always interested in the overview of how the paper was run,” Kashalikar said. “In sophomore year, even though I didn’t take the class, I tried to be as involved as possible and tried to find ways to ensure that we were covering all areas and highlighting every voice that we could.”

Olivia Downin

Downin agreed, “My biggest takeaway from my three years of journalism is definitely the leadership experience I have gained and the connections I have built. Serving as a Managing Editor my junior year and then Co-Editor-in-Chief allowed me to have leadership over a group of people, though our group may be small, having the role of leader was no light task.”

Even though their years with The Big Red have proven to be a challenge, something that the two agreed is that it was definitely worth it. A pandemic and schedule mistakes turned out for the better.

”For any staff or future journalism students, you all care about something,” Kashalikar advised. “Find that thing that you care about and write about it. People are interested in what you have to say and journalism can open a lot of opportunities in your future.”

In particular, Kashalikar said what she’s learned when it comes to research and gathering information will be especially helpful when pursuing her career in science, which requires lots of attention to detail.

“Journalism has taught me how to be meticulous with the information that I gather,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot about how to convey a strong message, how to write without bias and the importance of getting all the information to create a clear story.”

Downin stands on the same page when it comes to the abundance of skills and opportunities the class has brought her, varying from communication to ethics and writing, she claimed they have helped her not just be a better reporter, but also a better writer, classmate, friend, student, and person.

“Going into Bridgewater State University I know I’m taking on a lot,” Downin said. “While I already have a lot on my plate, I will always keep journalism and Ms. Paton in the back of my mind. 

Like Chemistry major Kashalikar, Downin remains unsure about pursuing journalism in college. On top of her plan to continue her three season track and cross country career, Downin will be a part of the honors program and will have to maintain her grades.

But writing articles or not, Downin says the skills she’s learned are some that she will definitely carry with her beyond the graduation stage of HHS. What surmounts her skills in writing and ethics, are the connections she has formed and broadened, in particular, her relationship with her Co-Editor-in-Chief, Kashalikar.

“Through working with Avani I have learned so much,” Downin said. “Spending countless hours together on the paper strengthened our bond, a bond I never want to break.”

While Kashalikar claimed that she holds many regrets about not writing as much as she did her senior year or any leads she missed out on exploring , she said that her time in the HHS journalism program would “always be among the most important and rewarding things” she has done in high school.

“Journalism is about telling the story, and each and every person has their own,” Kashalikar said. “Speaking to a person about what really matters and what they are passionate about, regardless of what piece you are working on, is such an important thing to keep in mind.”

“Keep asking questions,” Downin advised. “Ask questions. Put yourself out there. Meet new people. Make mistakes. Achieve greatness. You will never know if you never try.”

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About the Contributors
Ella Spuria
Ella Spuria, Head Photographer, Photo Editor
Junior Ella Spuria has been studying journalism for three years. Spuria took the class mainly because she loves the fast-paced news world. She enjoys taking photos and she wants to write more articles to improve her writing. In Spuria's free time, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, listening to a variety of music, and taking photos of sports but she hates portraits. Spurias dream vacation is to go to Greece.  
Logan Dome
Logan Dome, Staff Writer
Freshman Logan Dome is taking journalism for the first time this year. He is taking the class because he enjoys photography. His hope is to learn how to write a story without too much bias and to cover topics fairly, as well as to learn how to interview. His hobbies are playing baseball, football, basketball and golfing with his friends. Dome’s dream vacation is going to Dubai.
Blake Freitas
Blake Freitas, Staff Writer
Freshman Blake Freitas is taking journalism for the first time this year. He signed up for the class because he wants to know what's going on in the world around him, and is hoping the course will help him improve his general writing skills. In his free time, Freitas can be found playing for the school baseball, basketball, and football teams.

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