The brilliance of Write Night

Kane Agan delivers his poem to a packed house at Write Night 2013. All proceeds from the event go to update equipment and print the literary magazine. Literary magazine submissions are open to the entire school. Between 500 and 700 students have submitted photography, artwork or written work for the past several years. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“How do you do it?” Courtney Boutwell asked.

“What?” I replied.

“Write Night,” she said. “Everyone is so-respectful! How do you get 800 people to behave that way?”

“Courtney,” I laughed, “I don’t make Write Night. The lit mag staff, the theatre students, Mrs. Stephenson, the art teachers and students, parents, performers-everyone collaborates.

Maybe that’s why respect rules. So many people are involved and invested — or maybe PHS students are sophisticated, love the arts and appreciate how much effort, and courage, goes into a performance.”

“On Write Night,” Boutwell said, “I’m really proud that I go to Pelham High School.”

A PHS senior, Boutwell has experienced many Write Nights. This year, Boutwell’s sister, Hannah, worked on the theatre tech crew with theatre teacher Jamie Stephenson to coordinate light and sound. Stephenson runs mandatory sound check during Write Night week. During sound check, she doles out tips and encouragement. Stephenson’s direction transforms nervous kids trying to hide behind the microphone stand into confident performers.

Every year, following Write Night, lit mag staffers complete Write Night reviews — one page responses focused on what went well and what we’ll do better.

The staffers gave glowing reviews of performances, the incredible food donated by community restaurants, and the art show.

“Ja’don Christian’s poem was beautiful, true, raw and insightful — her performance was astounding,” Kane Agan said.

Kane and Ja’don didn’t know each other before Write Night. Agan delivered an amazing poem himself. “The art show was the best I’ve ever seen!” Everardo Villalvazo said.

Impressive musical performances topped students’ highlights as well. Stacy Cobb of Water House Media is making a Write Night DVD using the event T-shirt art on his case. Order envelopes are available at school or orders may be placed on his website:

Nine years ago, when my first lit mag staffers said, “Let’s have a show — we’ll call it Write Night,” I hoped their plan would work. This Write Night — looking at the huge crowd enjoying their show-I marveled at the brilliance of PHS students, both past and present.


Connie Nolen can be reached by email at