Write night: a creative tradition continues

Pelham High School began publishing a literary magazine just shortly after the school opened.

Initially, it was a few typed stapled pages, then newsprint and then a full-fledged magazine. A few years back, I became the magazine adviser. We had no money and we didn’t have a literary magazine class, so we also had very little time.

Publishing a magazine was as foreign to me as the New York City subway system. I seriously doubted whether we would ever go to press. But every Thursday morning, those seniors and a few silent, frightened underclassmen showed up for the Literary Magazine meetings.

The staff brainstormed for fundraiser ideas. My husband suggested we host a fun run and a marathon or better yet – a golf tournament. Doughnut and candy sales were suggested. These students loved poetry, words and rhyme.

They wanted T-shirts that read “The Nolenators” and they really loved the idea of a bowling fundraiser called Bowlin’ with Nolen. But the staff had written a mission statement, and they wanted to keep their fundraisers aligned to the mission of the magazine. They had written that the literary magazine was to celebrate the artistry and creative diversity of Pelham High School’s students and provide a venue for the publication and distribution of their work.

The Literary Magazine staff was quirky, energetic and buzzing with creativity. One morning, they were all grins. They started talking all at once.

“We’ve going to host a one-night coffee house here at school,” one student blurted out. “Everyone pays to get in,” another added.

“And people sign up to read poetry, do comedy skits, or play guitar,” a final student chimed in.

The kids were so excited that they talked over each other and they wouldn’t let me get in a word.

“Write Night – we want to call it Write Night, Mrs. Nolen. It’ll be amazing! We’ll make money! You’ll love it!”

Somehow we actually pulled off that first Write Night. Since then, Pelham High School students have celebrated creativity annually each Write Night as they take the stage, read their poetry, sing their songs, play their music, perform their material, laugh loudly and cheer for the creative and the brave. Last week, my newest Lit Mag staff hosted Write Night 2009 with the help of the theatre department and supporters. The number of students, parents and teachers who turned out proves artistry and creative diversity is worth celebrating – and the mission continues.