By JENNA SITEMAN | Intern
Despite major shifts in the academic year for students at Paul Revere Charter Middle School, one aspect remains unchanged: the publication of the school’s annual literary anthology.
This yearly anthology is an area of great excitement for teachers and students alike, and though the pandemic has made certain areas of production more difficult, it has also yielded the creation of the first digital literary anthology, which features students reading their published pieces.
Jenna Roman, a seventh grade English teacher, acted as the anthology’s submission manager and production coordinator. She noted that the process began in early January, which allowed for teachers and parent volunteers to firm up submissions to the publication prior to the Safer at Home orders and suspension of in-person classes.
“We collected all the submissions in January and February,” Roman explained. “We were just planning on going ahead as normal. We had everything proofread and were formatting the book, and then the pandemic hit and plans had to change.”
In addition to Roman describing the long process that this anthology requires, parent volunteer Eva Karelson shared with the Palisadian-Post that since this was her first year being the main parent coordinator, it was easy to adjust to the challenges at hand.
“It was so great how the staff at the school and parents and everyone just totally stepped up to make this work,” Karelson said. “Having this many kids participate is great, which is, for the most part, because of their English teachers and we highlighted it in the weekly e-blast. We’ve also done that with the kids who did the art, which is really incredible.”
The anthology publication is in process and to mitigate the financial burden of printing, Karelson found a work-around with fellow parent coordinator Laurie Vogel. They came up with the idea to provide each student with a digital version for free and if the student wants a paper copy, they can purchase one. Additionally, there are options for families who want the physical book but cannot afford to purchase at this time.
“We decided that we’re going to print it and we’re going to ask people if they want the book, because of the shipping process, and then they can buy it,” Karelson said. “But also, there are channels to go through school for the Booster Club to pay for it.”
Traditionally, the anthology would be presented, but with in-person events canceled due to the pandemic, Karelson explained that parent coordinators arranged for an online version of the event, which has been presented in the form of a YouTube video.
The teachers and volunteers involved with the anthology hoped this would provide students in the publication an opportunity to present their work and receive the accolade they deserve.
“The idea for doing the video came from some of our parent coordinators,” Roman said. “When we found out that the closure was going to last until the end of the year and our event would definitely be canceled, we thought, ‘Well this is something that we look forward to’ as teachers and it’s probably my favorite night of the year. It’s just so great to see the kids get excited about writing. But to have it online, it’s such a great way to kind of transform it.”
Even though the reading was digital, it still provided published students with a feeling of pride and excitement, as one student noted. Dylan Savage, a seventh grader, told the Post that being published in the anthology makes her feel very confident and happy with her work.
“It’s really cool how I’m able to share my perspective on these kinds of things,” Savage said. “And maybe I can help other people go into the same situation.”
The anthology features short stories and poems that cover a wide range of topics; one could read stories about breaking a wrist, the emotional impact of art, sports, odes to celebrities, global warming and even sexism.
Savage authored a poem describing the toxicity that can often be created by social media, especially during one’s formative years. She said that this opportunity provided by the anthology gave her an outlet for her feelings.
“[What I would say to any other students], if they ever want to participate, is that when you’re trying to write something, you can’t let other people tell you what to write,” Savage said. “You have to know in your heart what you believe should be written on the paper.”
Another published seventh grader, Jack Hesse, discussed how he plans on continuing his writing in the hopes of being published again next year. Hesse wrote a science-fiction story, which he described as being very happy with.
“I felt accomplished to actually write the story,” Hesse said. “And since it was left on a cliffhanger, I wanted to finish up the story in my eighth-grade year. I think the anthology has given me more confidence in my writing and seeing other students’ examples is incredible.”
Roman shared that the anthology-assemblers received more than 500 submissions this year, many of which were poems.
Sabrina Mackay-Bounds is a Paul Revere student who wrote a poem about the difficulties one can face with friends and shared that her poem came naturally to her.
“It kind of just popped in my head,” Mackay-Bounds said. “I’ve had a lot of past experience with toxic and fake friends so it just came up. [Being in the anthology has been] really shocking. It’s cool that people like my poem.”
Roman added that she feels happy with the anthology—despite the challenges the pandemic has presented to students and faculty members. She hopes that the online format will provide participants and their families with an everlasting source of pride, due to the flexibility it can provide.
“To have something more permanent, where the students and their families can go online and watch whenever they’re free, I think is pretty cool,” Roman concluded.
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