My last column: Thank you and goodbye
I can still remember a time when, at an academic banquet, a woman approached my table and asked, “Are you Alexis Bentz?” When I confirmed that I was, she exclaimed that she was an avid reader of the Beacon and a fan of my work.
She told me that she hadn’t considered the generational gap before, and that my column had inspired her to view teenagers in a new light.
The experience was remarkably validating, and I consider it to be my proudest moment as a writer.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a handful of these types of interactions in my life. And for this, I owe a huge thank you to the Beacon Newspapers, my journalistic home for the past six years.
It’s hard to believe that it has been that long, but it was indeed six years ago when, as a slightly nervous seventh-grader, I sent an email to a Mr. Stuart Rosenthal, publisher of the Beacon, offering to write a column. Little did I know that he would say yes and welcome me with open arms as a contributor to the newspaper.
My column, “Generations Together,” has been part of my attempt to bridge the expanding gap between teenagers and older adults. I have always believed that teens and seniors have much to offer each other, whether it be wisdom, advice, companionship or even something as simple as a smile.
Looking back, as I prepare to leave for college, my journey at the Beacon has been quite a learning experience. I feel that I have come a long way as a writer since I started at the Beacon, largely thanks to the guidance I received from the publication’s staff.
And my experience interning there one summer was my first foray into the newspaper business. I was entrusted with interviewing people and penning freelance articles, which shaped my understanding of journalism.
However, beyond the experience I gained and technical skills I developed, my greatest takeaway from this experience has been the connections I’ve made.
The staff at the Beacon has been overwhelmingly supportive as they’ve guided me through the journalistic process. I am exceedingly grateful to them for all they have done for me and for the freedom and trust they have bestowed upon me.
I want to thank all of the readers of the Beacon who have kept up with my column, especially those of you who reached out to me with comments, questions and feedback on my writing.
It is my sincere hope that my columns over the past six years have encouraged you to develop intergenerational relationships and have abolished many of the harmful stereotypes that exist about teens and senior citizens.
And now, for the final time, here is my signature conclusion:
The next time you and your teenage friend interact, I hope that you will be able to utilize the suggestions and consider the commonalities that my columns have illustrated.
I hope that you will be able to come up with more activities and discussions you and your younger friend can partake in.
And I hope that you have been able to forge a relationship that will last for the rest of your lives, just as the meaningful experiences and positive memories of my time at the Beacon will last for the rest of mine.
Alexis Bentz, soon to graduate Thomas Wootton High School in Rockville, Md., will be attending Washington University in St. Louis. She was recently recognized as a Top Teen by Washingtonian magazine.