I am exhausted. I am humbled. I am proud.

This was a year big news from the first day of classes, and I believe our work at the East Tennessean reflects that.

We covered the “shelter in place” that occurred at the beginning of the year, which was our first breaking story of the year.

A few weeks later, we were breaking word that the president of the United States would be holding a rally in Freedom Hall Civic Center at the same time as local news outlets. Additionally, we interviewed both Tennessee Senate candidates before midterms. These stories contributed to our election edition, which featured stories all about local, state and national elections.

In the fall, we also covered the first naturalization ceremony ever held on campus.

When we returned from winter break, we covered the celebration of life for the late Dr. Chris Dula and the inaugural Festival of Ideas. We then covered a story brought to our attention by students concerning health care on campus.

As we neared the end of the semester, we covered ETSU President Brian Noland’s announcement of his candidacy for a position at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and his later announcement to stay at ETSU.

In March, we ran our first special edition for ETSU’s satellite campus in Sevierville. This paper featured stories all about people, places and news at that campus and the surrounding area. It was delivered to the campus and surrounding visitor centers, and it will be there through the summer.

We also had a successful breakfast fundraiser with Aubrey’s of Johnson City, and we painted the East Tennessean’s first square on the Pride Walk – all in the same day because our staff is incredible.

We’re looking at results from our recent readership survey, and that information will be used as we look toward the new year. We already see that many of our readers would like more digital options to receive news coverage, and we’re brainstorming ways to make that happen.

There have been challenges, and we’ve had to do a lot of digging for stories. We’ve worked right up to deadlines and completely redesigned front pages last minute. We even made it through a production day when the power went out for an hour unexpectedly.

We’ve also had excellent news coverage and crafted great material for student portfolios. Working as real members of the media, we have stories to tell about covering big events like the rally last fall.

Several members of the East Tennessean are graduating, and they will be greatly, greatly missed. I’d like to give a big “thank you” to each of them who contributed to our paper during their time at ETSU. To our editors and writers, thank you for your excellent journalism practices. To our advertisers, thank you for working endlessly to financially support us. To our designers, thank you for your hard work but mostly for all the laughs.

It’s been such a great year, and I have proudly served as executive editor. I look forward to starting back in the fall in this position and helping as we transition to the new student media center in the renovated Culp Center during the spring semester.

We did a lot this year at the East Tennessean, and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming year will bring us – though I would prefer a less scary start than this year brought.