To Olive or Not to Olive: A Day in the Life of the Journalism Class

Written by the 2024 Journalism Class (with the help of Mr. Whitehead)
To Olive or Not to Olive: A Day in the Life of the Journalism Class

In the gooey debate of whether or not olives belong on pizza, the arguments drip like grease from a floppy slice. To settle this debate, the Journalism class met on a cool, overcast Friday morning in the Eugenia Pfeiffer Memorial Courtyard, gathered napkins and paper plates, and cracked open a couple of large pies from Ray’s in Cresskill. After much masticating and not much debating, the olives just barely won out, with a vote of 52% in favor.

Pizza comes in a slew of shapes and sizes, with countless options for toppings, which raised the important question recently in class: to olive or not to olive? 

Some argued that olives add a unique flavor to this beloved comfort food, while others claimed that the best pizza sticks to traditional toppings. 

The Journalism class decided to settle the issue—at least among the nineteen class members and one teacher. A date was set for a Friday when period 3 met just before lunch. They’d meet in the courtyard. Everyone kicked in a few bucks. Charley Levine (’25) took the lead on ordering and arranging to get the pizzas dropped off in the admin lot. 

When the pies arrived that Friday morning, Val Reyes (’26) ran to the cafeteria for napkins and Mr. Whitehead finagled some paper plates from the principal’s office. As the class settled in at the outdoor tables among the birdsong, breeze, and occasional bug, the latter of which sent some kids jumping out of their seats in unwarranted alarm (they were just aphids!), the participants tucked in.

One of the nineteen class members, David Shin (’25) looked at the olive pizza with a wary glance. Succumbing to peer pressure, he decided to take a small slice and slipped it onto his plate. After a nibble and expecting the worst, he chewed and then swallowed. 

“Surprisingly, it looks unappetizing but it tastes pretty good,” he said. “Not the best but not also the worst pizza I’ve ever tasted.” He decided to vote in favor of olives being on pizza. 

Reyes needed less convincing.

“The olives were amazing and made the boring pizza SAUR GOOD!” she said.

Mika Alexander (’24), the brainchild of the experiment, nodded appreciatively and went on telling her table-mates about the cross-country road trip she’s planning for the summer.

Mr. Whitehead, who had been more or less refraining from gluten for a few months, bit into a small slice of olive pizza and chewed deliberately. “Mmm,” he said. “I’ve been missing out.” A chorus of birds could be heard in the courtyard. “Song sparrow, cardinal, and Carolina wren,” Whitehead said a moment later to no one in particular. He opened the Merlin app on his iPhone and clicked the green record button. “See?” he said, showing off the list of birds that appeared.

“That’s so cool,” Orli Rosenstein (’26) said.

Most of the olive pizza was gone, but there was a plain cheese pie with a few slices left, and tentative hands reached into the box.

“Olives felt like intruding flavors onto the plain pizza rather than adding to it,” Zoe Sun (’25) said.

Alexander rolled her eyes.

“I liked the olive pizza,” Ella Plotkin (’27) said. “If someone handed me a slice, I’d eat it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to order it.”

Alexander shook her head.

Joie Evar (’24), who didn’t participate in the meal (too early for pizza) but did partake in the table talk of summer plans and travels, voted that, based on past experience, olives are a good addition to pizza. 

Heeseo Yoon (’25) also trusted her past preference but in support of a different stance. “Olives were the first things I would pick out of my pizza as a child,” she said while warily eyeing the pie crusts lying on the table. 

Serra Cetin (’26) had been skeptical about eating a slice with olives on it. She hates how sour green olives are. “I didn’t eat it,” she said. “I think the sour and salty combination is worse than pineapples on pizza.”

“We already settled that debate,” Whitehead said, referring to a similar Journalism experiment from a few years back (see below). 

Hila Litvin (’27) normally prefers to keep olives off of pizza, specifically black olives, but when a pizzeria finally has green olives, she’s glad to indulge.

Brianna Cavadias (’27) was utterly revolted by the idea of olives on pizza and refused to try it. She stuck to eating a cheese slice during the experiment, as did Gili Shoval (’27) and Jessica Stewart (’27). 

Brian Oh (’26) felt that the olives didn’t really add or subtract from the pizza—he thought the olives didn’t taste like anything.

Under the locust trees of the courtyard, Samantha Shanker (’25), Anoushka Chakrabarti (’25), Orli Rosenstein, Ella Plotkin, and Amanda Forman (’27), were helping Zoe Sun come up with teen slang for a new piece she was drafting, “A Teacher’s Guide to Teenager Slang – 2024 Edition.”

“This pizza is so good, on skibidi,” said Chakrabarti. They all laughed.

Whitehead squinted. “Huh?” he said.

The bell rang. A song sparrow sang its happy tune. The students rose and gathered their backpacks, some of them with the salty aftertaste of olives on their tongues. Not much had been decided, but the class had bonded over pizza on a gorgeous Friday morning in spring. And that was something to savor.

More to Discover