Springs School Magazine Gets Facelift

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At Springs School, the tide has turned.

Next month, the school will circulate a revamped version of its annual publication, High Tide, a literary magazine that is home to poetry interspersed with art, opinion writing, how-tos, short stories, “rave reviews” of local establishments and more. The content was created entirely by Springs School kindergarten through eighth grade students. It was organized by elementary school teachers Tracey Frazier and Ryan Scala.

The 32 page-magazine is filled with writings that offer a unique glimpse into the creative minds of the school’s students. The diverse magazine covers a lot of ground—sisters, moms, dads and brothers make debuts alongside dogs, owls and trees. Light and serious subjects are tackled, from bullying, feminism and loneliness to, for example, a poem titled “iTunes Trouble” penned by a fourth-grader to his twin brother apologizing for accidentally deleting all the songs on his green iPod.

It’s clear throughout that the works are deeply personal. Sixth-grader Emma Wiltshire’s poem “Too Old to Cry” about a parent’s open heart surgery strikes a chord. “Today I am ten/I cannot cry in front of him/But I cannot bear to look at him/so weak/when I know/he is so strong,” she writes. “He reveals his scar. The scar that will be/imprinted on him forever. He walks slowly around/as if nothing is wrong/But, we all know/about the pain he feels.

Today, I am ten. I am here with my dad. I am too old to cry.”

On another page, kindergartner Viviana Guerrero offers a succinct summary on how to make spaghetti.

“First, I buy a box of spaghetti,” she writes. “Then mom cooks the spaghetti. Then I put the spaghetti on the table. Then I eat it.”

Subjects range widely, but there is definitely “a theme of family” that runs throughout the book, according to Ms. Frazier.

In prior years, High Tide was a literary venue for poetry, created “organically” by teacher Sue Ellen O’Connor, who collected poetry and ran off Xerox copies that were handed to students. This year, High Tide will be created by School Annual Publishing Company, which is also publishing the school’s yearbook. The primary focus of the magazine is writing, but it also includes art, such as a colorful cover designed by fifth-grader Madison Lappin, and black-and-white art from eighth-graders.

The teachers took over the magazine this year when Ms. O’Connor said she couldn’t do it anymore. “We didn’t want to lose it,” Ms. Frazier said. “So we took it on. And we thought we could give it a new twist and let it evolve into a literary magazine, because we want to celebrate more than just the poetry writing, because we’ve got such an emphasis on writing at our school.”

The new High Tide magazine ties in well with staff development in reading and writing that Springs School is receiving from Columbia University’s Teachers College, said Ms. Frazier and Mr. Scala. It also goes hand-in-hand with the different genres of writing being taught across the grade levels.

“We thought that was an important element too—showing growth and how the same kind of writing is happening across different grade levels but to see how it evolves,” said Mr. Scala. “You know, like what would a first grade opinion piece look like versus a fifth grade or an eighth grade opinion piece. You can see that really across the magazine, which is nice, I think, for readers to notice, especially to our parents in the community who are wondering about our curriculum and how it unfolds.”

The project cost about $3,300 in total, and was funded by a combination of donors and a “Pancakes for Poems” fundraiser that the teachers hosted recently at the school, at which they served students pancakes, sausages and fruit for breakfast.

“We figured since poetry mixes words, we’ll mix meals,” laughed Ms. Frazier. “So we had breakfast for lunch.”

A total of 300 copies will be printed and offered for sale at $2 each.

Both teachers spoke to the importance of having a venue like High Tide, where students can see their writing in print. It’s a nice break from writing for a test that allows students to engage in a variety of genres, Mr. Scala said.

“I think what I loved seeing and appreciate so much when I see a publication like High Tide, I think, about how writing is such a part of how we express ourselves as human beings and that kids learn that from the very early age and can do it so beautifully—express who they are and what they know about themselves and the world and ways of thinking,” said Ms. Frazier. “And writing from heart. I think that if I look at this, there’s so much writing from heart.”

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