Note: Gil Chesterton's passing was reported by his daughter, via Facebook, on May 18, 2017.
Room 253 is not my favorite because it’s my classroom; in fact, it may be one of the worst classrooms on campus. There are no windows. It is beneath the cafeteria, which leads to all types of nauseating smells throughout the year. And, it is tucked into a cubbyhole in a random hallway off the second floor patio; it seems that no one can ever find where we are.
Room 253 is my favorite room because it was where I spent three of my four years at Beverly working on the very same Watchtower yearbook I now advise, under the advisership of a very talented teacher to whom I look up to a great deal: Mr. Chesterton (who we all fondly called Mr. C). For the past 10 years of my educational career, I’ve run each of my publications just as Mr. C had. He created a student-centered classroom where kids were empowered to run their publications in the way that they saw best. He sat quiet, all-knowing in his office where he could keep a watchful eye, making sure we were making ethically and legally sound choices while following the high standards of journalism he had taught us.
It didn’t matter which crowd we ran with when we were in Room 253. It didn’t matter if we were on the newspaper, yearbook or broadcast; Mr. C ensured we were all friends, and we were all accepted as we were when we tucked into those doors.
And for three years, I got to create an amazing yearbook cherished by so many Normans. A legacy that still lives on, 90 years after the original publication. And for three years, I was inspired by a quiet, yet strong and incredibly wise teacher. I modeled my publication management style on his, and within two years of advising the yearbook at South Gate High School, the students went from unknown to award-winning. And now, I get to sit in that very room, every day until we move into “cottages”, knowing that I get to carry on the legacy that was once Mr. C’s. Knowing, hoping, that Room 253 is a safe welcoming place for students who love our school’s publications just as much as I did, as much as I do.
So, today, on yearbook distribution day and the year’s final issue of Highlights, I’d like to say thank you Room 253 and Mr. C, for being my home and my yearbook dad for three years as a Norman student. It brings me great joy to know that you were honored this past year by the Journalism Education Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award—I’m so happy I could do that for you before you left this world. Mr. C, you will be greatly missed. You touched so many lives, students who went on to become journalists or not, but who will remember your legacy all the same.
-Gaby Herbst, CJE
Beverly Hills High School Journalism and English Depts.