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Celebrating 80 years of The Spark

AS THE warm summer haze fades into crisp shades of orange and red, each student gradually packs their bags, swaps shorts for jeans and trades icy lemonade for a piping hot cup of tea. The start of a new university year is a chance for everyone, new and old, to meet people and take bold risks with something you never thought you would have. There’s a hope that you’ll learn about yourself; your strengths and limitations, while making friendships that last a lifetime.

So it is at this time, with great pleasure I’d like to welcome all students to the University of Reading. If this is your first year, enjoy all the new experiences that come with starting a fresh chapter of your life. Change is always frightening, but remember that as time goes on, you will inevitably find comfort in the unfamiliar. If you are returning for another academic challenge, take a moment to appreciate the firsts and the lasts, although things might not turn out the way you expected.

For myself, the offer to become the Editor of The Spark was definitely unexpected and a humbling experience. Given the chance to make radical and innovative changes for a paper with 80 years behind it, I sharpened my pencils, claimed the free coffee on my stamp card and decided to run with it.

The prospect of the 80th anniversary was one The Spark Committee embraced wholeheartedly. We wanted to celebrate by bringing the best to the table, piling up our plates and hoping our trousers would stay shut. Bursting with energy, the new team tackled ideas with full force bringing a whole new design, on-line universe and voices to life.

The biggest change for this year is simple and can be captured in a single phrase, “Let’s be friends.” There’s absolutely nothing to stop us from getting to know each other. The Spark showcases writing, drawing, design, photography and a chance to ramble/bring your own ideas to explore. We support one another, improve and grow upon shared interests and talents. So if you see a pair of raccoon eyes drifting in the Union, bust a move.

We have a bunch of exciting novelties we’re dipping our toes in. Since you don’t know much about who we are, we created ‘Epics and Evils’ that reveal the insanity that is The Spark. And since we don’t know much about you, ‘WattsUp?’ was created to find out whatever floats your boat.

Still, this is only the beginning. We are introducing comics, art pieces, creative writing, horoscopes and teaming up with other student media. We’ve sent writers to book launches, fashion shows, movie pre-screenings, interviews and concerts. We even added an article (the) to the name of our paper. We have only begun to touch the surface in what seems like an ocean with deep-sea fish, and we want to try it all. If you want to dive in, give us a shout and we’ll bring the scuba equipment.

If you’re unsure about your feelings for water, try surfing the web to get in touch. You can shoot us an email, Facebook message or sign up for a membership on the RUSU societies’ page. If you’re really enthusiastic, you can try to wrestle us down to the ground during Freshers’ Week. I don’t know about the rest of the team, but there’s a good chance that I might mistake you for a stalker and make a dash down the tent. That’s just me though.

So here’s to 2014-2015, the commencement of all things that could go wrong, but could also go extremely right. It’s up to you to decide what this year could bring and the same goes for the paper. The Spark is turning 80 so let’s make this birthday a party to remember. Merely existing has never cut it for me—so I dare you, bring the balloons and let’s go out with a bang.

Time’s up! What are you gonna do about it?

About Nathalie Siah


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