Once again, Enlight’ning, Harker’s annual award-winning (2009, 2010, 2011) literary arts magazine, showcased the work of a number of talented middle school students. But this year it also provided a unique opportunity for Enlight’ning club members to learn what it takes to create such a publication.
Students on both ends – published and publishers – played an integral role in making this year’s issue of Enlight’ning such a success.
Created in 2002 as an opportunity for selected students to publish their outstanding writing and art, the magazine traditionally has been produced by a club, which meets weekly during the school day in the second semester to solicit and evaluate magazine submissions.
This year, however, the club took the process a step further, by also meeting once a week during the first semester to get a behind-the-scenes look into the process of putting together a magazine. For the first time, club members had the chance to learn the ins and outs of publishing a literary journal – from publicity to formulating responses to sample submissions and print production. Also during the first semester, Enlight’ning ran a contest for poetry, prose and art to raise the number of early submissions, which were judged “blind.”
“This year’s issue’s really beautiful,” enthused Sabina Grogan, who teaches middle school expository writing and served as an advisor for the 2012 Enlight’ning staff.
Enlight’ning is recognized by the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), American Scholastic Press Association and Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) for its exemplary product. In fact, it has placed as a gold medalist by CSPA and a silver medalist by NSPA in a recent scholastic literary journal competition.
The theme of this edition of the literary magazine was “journeys,” as suggested by the publication’s many images of trains and boats, and also travel through time and memory, explored by several poems and prose works showcased in the magazine. Moreover, Enlight’ning’s editors explained that the overriding theme of the journey motif expressed is one of transformation – as middle school itself is a stretch of intense and at times startling change.
Last spring, Enlight’ning held a kickoff launch and celebration, with students featured in the magazine reading excerpts from their pieces and talking about their work. The event saw published students and audience members lingering long after the readings to schmooze and enjoy refreshments.
At the end of the school year, Grogan urged seventh and incoming eighth graders to consider submitting writing and artwork for next year’s edition, stating, “You’ve got all summer to come up with something!”