The 2016-17 staff of “The Outlet,” Wando High School’s annual literary journal, just collectively learned an important truth: not every great work of art is the result of solitude. This year’s issue, a beautiful, thematic piece filled with passionately-crafted visual and written artwork, could not have happened without the team of dedicated students behind it.
Made up of eleven students – the “perfect number” according to faculty adviser and English teacher Cindy Lawson – the staff of “The Outlet” brought their individual talents to the table for this year’s journal. And apart from the seniors who just bade Wando goodbye, most of them want to work on the journal again for this upcoming academic year. The class that puts together the journal is known as Creative Writing II, and participants range from those emerging from Creative Writing I (a workshop-style class that is not a prerequisite) to newcomers within the Wando literary family.
“I’d seen ‘The Outlet’ before and I thought this would be interesting,” said Conor Cradock, a member of the design group, colloquially known as the “A Team.” “I wanted the opportunity to analyze literature differently.”
“We’re all very different, but we’ve found common ground with each other,” pointed out Madeleine Darby. “I’ve even made a best friend here.”
“[This class] has helped me discover my purpose,” added Kasey Fordyce.
The whole staff for the journal is benevolently led by editor-in-chief Layne Barron, who chose this year’s theme, “Into the Rose Garden” based on “The Four Quartets” by T.S. Eliot. The other students embraced the concept, dividing the journal into four sections: the white rose for purity; the red rose for romance; the purple rose for grief; and the black rose for evil. While the concept and sections helped organize a vision for the journal, the students agreed that it didn’t limit their fellow students who wanted to submit. In fact, choosing work was harder than ever this year, and submissions were numerous and of good quality.
“This year we accepted nonfiction and songs,” pointed out Adelle Lacy, a member of the design team. “But since we had a surplus, we had to be selective.”
So what does the timeline look like for “The Outlet?” It starts with fundraising efforts to pay for the journal. This past year, for example, the students put together a poetry slam, which they held at the blackbox theater, charging a fee of $2 for participation. It was well-attended, they said – and the inclusion of musicians at the slam is likely what led to songs and other diversity in this year’s journal.
Besides fundraising, marketing the opportunity to submit to the writers and artists along the hallways of Wando is important. Armed with a deadline of December 30th, 2016, the staff of The Outlet set about sharing the rules and regulations for getting published. Then came the fun part of diving into the resulting pile of work – larger than usual, thanks to the efforts of the “B Team,” responsible for fundraising and public relations.
But as the kids pointed out, it’s difficult to pare down such a pile of greatness. Layne Barron noted that the group wasn’t sure, at first, how many they would be able to accept.
“We divided stacks into green, red and yellow,” Layne Barron explained. “Red for no, green for definitely and yellow for the wait list.”
Eventually, though, they found the accepted pieces, and sent out congratulatory emails to the artists. A bit of a scramble followed during the few weeks prior to sending “The Outlet” to the printer. But it was an organized scramble, one where no student felt overwhelmed or unimportant.
“I think the work done by the design team was split up beautifully,” mused Adelle Lacy. “Each section (the different roses) was taken over by a different person. No one was overloaded, and it was a group effort.”
Finally, one blissful Friday in May, brand-new copies of “The Outlet” arrived in a brown box at the doorstep of Wando High School. The efforts of not only the staff but of each hardworking artist had come to fruition. And hopefully, those efforts will be recognized again this coming fall, at the South Carolina Student Press Association Awards, an annual competition culminating at a ceremony in Columbia. “The Outlet” has earned 2nd and 3rd tier honors there for the last few years.
Of course, the students are all hoping for first place honors this year. And after leafing through the most recent issue of “The Outlet,” I share their optimism.
By Denise K. James.
Photo by Layne Barron.