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Continued: Anoka middle school literary magazine snags top award

  • Article by: ANNA PRATT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 25, 2014 - 1:47 PM

Although the print journal might seem a bit old-school for some students, “It has a value for them as young writers, seeing their words on the page,” she said.

The student voice

As a student editor, eighth-grader Erica Tembreull gained an appreciation for the sheer amount of work that goes into putting together a publication. It has made her look at magazines and books in a new light, she said.

The process also helped her improve her own writing. “It helped to see other people’s work, to see what they did well and then you can put that into your own writing. You can see what mistakes they made and go back to your writing and see what you would change,” she said.

For Tembreull, it was also rewarding to see her work in the publication. Her poem “Lost by the Frosted Window,” which she co-wrote with Mallory Denzer, is done in the style of a sestina, which involves a complicated pattern of repeating words. The piece is about a woman who has “lost her memory. She’s just thinking, looking through her pictures and scrapbooks and remembering different things,” she said.

Tyler Eischens, another eighth-grader who served as an editor, enjoyed finding out about what was on students’ minds, too. “It was fun to see what other kids worked on during different hours” of the school day, and beyond, he said.

He tried to score pieces based on “the hook, how it entertained you, the meaning behind it,” but it wasn’t always so simple. Pieces stood out for various reasons.

For example, Lydia Erickson’s poem “If Hate Could Be …” ponders big life questions.

The eighth-grader said it reflects on a fight she had with a friend. The poem was a class assignment, but it helped her sort through her feelings, she said.

She likes poetry because it can be silly or dramatic, rhyme or not. “It’s something where you’re free. You can choose to do what you want with it,” she said.

Language teacher Steven Farrell said students take the magazine opportunity seriously. “They are so excited when they get something in there because they know that a team of adults, not just one teacher, has looked at it and they have all placed a value, not a grade, on their work,” he said.

Matt Malette, an art specialist at the school, added that The Storm offers a unique opportunity for students to get feedback on their work from the broader community. It’s another avenue “to express themselves and to receive recognition for their efforts,” he said.

Although the review process can be painful and confusing at times, it presents ”a teachable moment about deadlines and the merit-based world that we live in,” he said.

Every year, more students ask about the magazine. As a teacher, it’s especially gratifying to see them submitting work they’ve completed on their own time, he said.

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