SLHS publishes Art & Literary Magazine
SLHS students showcase art and literary talents
by Ricki Stein, Community Engagement Coordinator
Juniors Joy Fan and Lillian Nelson could have simply attended to their classwork and studied for Advanced Placement (AP) exams. But the co-Editors-in-Chief wanted to finish what they started so that participating seniors would get a copy of the SLHS Art and Literary Magazine. Second semester publishing scrambles play out during the best of times when students attend school in person. This year, students worked their magic at home.
“Joy and Lilly were determined to have the magazine published earlier this year,” said teacher and club advisor Sheryl Ciotti. “Considering the circumstances, I think they did an excellent job getting everyone to work together effectively in order to see to their original deadline. They are absolutely amazing club leaders! I would be lost without them.”
The finished magazine is beautiful. You can access it by clicking Art and Lit Magazine 2020 .pdf.
A hard-copy will also be published and distributed to those who submitted work. Anyone in the high school can submit artwork or writing to the magazine for possible publication. Club members post flyers around the school and ask English teachers to mention it to all their classes.
“We receive the majority of our submissions from members of the club, but we allow all students in the high school to submit their pieces,” Joy said.
The editing work began in school, of course.
“Several teams work together to align the material so that the pieces work thematically,” Mrs. Ciotti said of the organization, which includes 25-30 students each year. “It is a multi-layered process that takes months of sweat and passion. The students dedicate themselves to the process because they want to put together a quality magazine that reflects the importance and love of the arts in our school. The magazine is an opportunity for students to showcase their art in all forms.”
Lillian said, “The contributors really enjoy a physical copy because it provides a tangible display of their hard work. I think it also showcases the pieces more beautifully and cohesively when it is printed out.”
Joy added, “There are people who are extremely talented in the arts but do not necessarily receive recognition for their work, and our main goal is to help these artists and writers show their visions in a way that can reach everyone in our school.”
After school closed, Joy, Lilly, and other editors toiled virtually over the pages of the magazine in order to make everything just right, Mrs. Ciotti said. “They also received numerous emails from me asking them to make adjustments, or asking them to reserve pieces for next year. Joy, Lilly, and I spent about four hours on a Google Meet going through the pages together to ensure that the magazine was ready to go to the printer. We laughed and we sighed as we reviewed and critiqued each and every page.”
Mrs. Ciotti has taught 21 years in Southern Lehigh, moving between English classes for ninth, 10th, and 11th grades, and applied, honors and college board courses. She currently teaches Honors English 11 and English 9. She taught a half year at Northwestern Lehigh before joining the Spartans, and taught for three months in Burford, England. During a leave of absence in 2006, she spent time in Italy, where she tutored some students in the English language. Sheryl earned her Bachelor's degree from Bloomsburg University and a Master’s degree from Kutztown University.
Taking on the art and literary magazine as an extracurricular activity felt natural because “Writing, drawing, and reading are passions of mine, and they serve as an important outlet for many students as well. When I was in high school [Parkland], I wrote poetry and short stories often. I filled countless journals with my personal work. I am happy to be a part of an organization that inspires a love of the arts.”
Each year, the ALC gathers students interested in poetry to attend and participate in the DeSales Poetry Festival. The event ignites the love for the arts at the beginning of each school year, Mrs. Ciotti said. The club also hosts an annual coffee house open to the SL community. The open-mic event for students in grades 9-12 features singing, instrumentals, poetry, and magic performances. The club sells coffee and desserts for a nominal fee. All proceeds pay for the next coffee house. Other faculty members help organize the events and participate in the coffee house. Some even perform. This year’s coffee house was preempted by school closure for the pandemic.
“I love getting to see what other students are able to accomplish,” Lillian said. “Whether it is displaying a piece in the magazine or showcasing talent at the coffee house, I am always amazed at what other students are able to think of or create. Along with the magazine, the coffee house is also a terrific event to be a part of. The audience is able to sip coffee and eat baked goods while watching incredible performances. The students also have an artwork display with many amazing pieces. The event is a lot of fun, and the students put a lot of work into their performances. Overall though, the club is really supportive and relaxing. It is a great environment to be a part of.”
Added Joy, “I love the supportive environment. Everyone wants everyone to succeed, whether through artwork, writing, or music. I love being a part of the magazine year after year as well. I have been submitting to and editing the magazine since my freshman year, and I cannot express enough how grateful I am for the experiences I have gained. As an editor, I have had the pleasure of working with such amazing pieces. They have taught me how the world needs to see their story and the fact that I can help this concept come to life is nothing short of extraordinary.”
Perhaps ironically, Joy and Lillian plan to pursue computer and science careers. Their dedication to the art and literary club shows that people live more than a single story, more than one interest or talent.
Joy wants to work in the computer science field. “The technology industry is constantly changing and needing younger minds with innovative solutions,” she said. “Also, computer science is a male-dominated industry, and I would like to show females that they have the ability to go into a field that may seem daunting. While my career goal may not seem to correlate with the Art and Literary Club, what I have learned from being a part of this club is that we need to highlight underrepresented voices. Society needs to hear from these voices in order to progress.”
Joy, added, “I enjoy writing, and my favorite types of writing include narrative writing and poetry. Throughout the past few years, I have learned to value expressing my emotions through writing. Vulnerability is so incredibly powerful.”
Lillian plans a STEM based career, most likely in biology or chemistry. “There are a lot of options related to these fields, so I am not quite sure what I want to do within the field yet. I am looking into something related to medicine or research, though. My career goals are not directly related to the Art and Literary Club, but my interest and participation in the club shows that anyone can tap into their inner artist or poet. I enjoy having a balance between more expressive, creative hobbies and more analytical based studies.”
Lillian wrote a poem called “December” that is included in this year’s magazine. “I do enjoy writing, and my favorite types of writing are poetry and argumentative writing. It allows you to express your emotions and create expressive narratives in a few short lines or words. The writer can also artistically express their words and present very powerful messages. “
Mrs. Ciotti noted, “Creativity is contagious. I love the energy students bring to the club. With the club, I am offered a fresh perspective, as I have the opportunity to work with students in a different capacity than I would in English class. I enjoy getting to see firsthand how novice writers and artists fine-tune their craft with each year that passes. I also get the opportunity to work with wonderful leaders of the club. This year, Joy and Lilly are the club leaders, and they have gone above and beyond with each and every responsibility. They bring the best of ideas to the table, and they see to it that each one comes to fruition. I can truly say that I am privileged to work with them this year. The fact that they will be seniors is bittersweet.”
ALC members recruit new students through the Freshman Rush event each year. They also advertise throughout the year and some join the Art and Literary Club Spartan Period. Club members usually return the following year and earn editor positions based on their success and interest.
The leaders are considering inviting people to submit videos online so they can string together a virtual coffeehouse.
Lillian said, “It was a really rewarding experience to be able to put together something as wonderful as the magazine using artworks and literary pieces that needed to be showcased. Joy and I could not be more excited to have this year's magazine published and in print. This year was a big learning curve for me since it was my first year holding this position. I could not be more happy to have Joy, the other editor-in-chief, as my partner in crime because she works really hard.”
Joy said, “This year has been such an amazing year in regards to the Art and Literary Club. I have had such a great experience working with Lilly because we both are so incredibly dedicated to the magazine. Most of all though, we cannot thank Mrs. Ciotti enough. I had her as my English teacher both freshman and junior year, and she has been a saving grace. She is so incredibly selfless and dedicated to helping students. She has made the whole process of creating the magazine so much easier and motivated us to persevere through challenging, unforeseen circumstances.”