Levin steps down as Omega adviser after 24 years


BLAST FROM THE PAST: Levin (far left) photographed with the 2001-2002 Omega staff.

Ava LaBianco , News Editor

Despite having no background in journalism, English teacher Elizabeth Levin was asked to take over the Omega when the previous adviser went on maternity leave in 1998. The temporary position became a home for her, and after 24 years of serving as adviser, Levin has made the difficult choice to step down as adviser of the Omega publication.

Omega alumni and Illinois Journalist of the Year, Abbe Murphy, recalls challenges the publication faced during her time on the Omega staff. “I remember my junior year when we were having censorship issues with the principal and the whole thing became quite a big mess. We decided to write an op-ed about our experience with censorship from the administration and the importance of preserving the rights of student journalists more broadly. It was a super tight timeline and something that we really, really wanted to nail,” Murphy said.

“While all of my friends were running around town getting ready for a school dance, I spent the entire Saturday with Mrs. Levin, in the Omega office sifting through documents, and working on the editorial. I remember that day so fondly not only because the editorial became my most proud piece of writing for the Omega, but also because it reminds me of the unyielding dedication that Mrs. Levin had for the Omega over the years. Late nights, early mornings, and weekends all in the advancement of student journalism. That’s pretty amazing,” Murphy said.

Levin’s background in English and enjoyment of creative writing made her an ideal candidate as an adviser, but her lack of experience with journalism was an obstacle to overcome. As newfound leader of the Omega, Levin was impassioned to take as many journalistic classes as she could to be the best possible adviser for the publication she could be. 

“I wouldn’t be in journalism today if it weren’t for Mrs. Levin, who taught me everything from how to write a lead to how to have a backbone as a writer. She had the greatest patience, and the journalism field is stronger because of the writers she taught. I wish I had held onto all my notebooks from high school so that I could cite all the wisdom she gave,” DGN Omega alumni Fletcher Peters said.

Levin’s favorite part of being an adviser was deadline mornings and nights. She believes seeing all of the students come together and learn to trust and rely on each other is the best part of her job.

“Mrs. Levin knows all the in’s and out’s of ethical journalism and was able to guide our staff during times of tough decisions, dilemmas and crises. She’s put so much into DGN and the Omega overall and I’m so grateful that I had the chance to be a part of her team during my time at North,” DGN Omega alumni and Illinois Journalist of the year, Sam Bull said.

Throughout her years in journalism, Levin has served on the Illinois Journalism Association board and IHSA Journalism Board. She has also served as the Writing Curriculum Leader for the National Journalism Education Association. As she is stepping down as adviser, she also will be leaving these committees to the active advisers from other schools. Although Levin is sad to leave, she is excited to see how Eric Landschoot will revamp the program next year. “Unless you are involved directly with journalism, you really don’t see how much Mrs. Levin puts into the program. Being her assistant for 11 years I have learned a lot about running the program and I want to keep her old tendencies. Once we lost our Omega office we were not able to work on the paper outside of class. By dedicating one space to journalism next year, I am really trying to make journalism less of a class and more of a community,” journalism assistant adviser Eric Landschoot said.

Although Levin has led the Omega to three state trophies, five sectional wins, and so much more, she has gone through all the ups and downs with the journalism program. 

“Mrs. Levin has taught me to love journalism through a ‘learning while doing’ style. Her dedication reminds me that what I am doing is important to our community. She is very professional but also allows students to have journalistic freedoms, which I recognize is a very difficult job,” current Editor-in-Chief Julia Hanson said. 

“Mrs. Levin is so thoughtful in all her conversations and word choice, especially when covering difficult topics. When the publication covers tragedies like student deaths, Ms. Levin navigates the classroom conversation flawlessly. It’s something I hope to learn to do myself and truly respect,” Hanson added. 

In Levin’s 24 years as adviser, she has inspired students to pursue journalism professionally. In this year’s graduating class, five students plan to major in journalism in college. Although Levin won’t be in the journalism room next year, she will still be teaching in the English department, continue to be a voice for student expression.