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Saugus festival features fire, tears

Event marks the release of literary and visual-arts magazine

Posted: June 21, 2009 10:19 p.m.
Updated: June 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.
A night sky, a cauldron for symbolic burning of student fears and presentations of original student work highlighted Saugus High School's 13th annual public reading and arts festival, hosted by the school's literary magazine class.

The event also marked the release of "The Centinel," Saugus' literary and visual-arts magazine, featuring 56 published students in a variety of creative media.

Attended by more than 250 members of the Saugus High School community, the evening program featured dozens of student poets, writers, performers and artists.

Live poetry readings and story excerpts dominated the night, punctuated by performances from Concert Choir conducted by instructor April Dooley, improv theater led by senior Kevin Rae, close-up magic from Jordan Voltz and Thi Dinh, and live acoustic music from Megan Marucut, Austin Moreno and Nikki Santino.

Amanda Dopico, who read an excerpt from "Remembering," a fiction piece she wrote to honor her final moments with her grandmother, called the magazine class "a wonderful opportunity for students to express themselves, to share and discuss emotions and thoughts."

Students specializing in visual media, such as art, ceramics and photography, displayed their work in Art Department Chair Teri Garcia's classroom, which was converted into a walk-through gallery for the evening.

Ceramics teacher Dan Nickels contributed by gathering and displaying many of his students' 3D art pieces alongside the 2D work of Garcia's students.

"Exhibiting one's work takes courage," Garcia said. "It is scary to release one's work to other people's opinions with no control over how it is to be viewed, no explanation as to the artist's intent."

"The viewer brings their own opinion and knowledge to the piece and so the great dialogue with art begins. To have the experience of having work in public is tremendously important because students gain confidence and insight from the experience that continues to inform their art and their voice."

In honor of the 13th issue of the magazine, the magazine class chose "superstition" as the theme for the magazine and event.

"The superstition theme was intended to be figurative - we wanted students to begin questioning what role fear played in their life, and to begin working toward overcoming and conquering those fears," English teacher Ty Devoe said.

The outdoor stage, converted into a night sky scene including twinkling lights and a crescent moon by the magazine marketing team, held a custom-lit podium from which student writers shared their work with the crowd.

"We really just wanted to create a mysterious and romantic feel to complement the theme," said Nikki Atwood, marketing team editor.

A table adjacent to the stage provided guests an opportunity to record their fears on paper and place them into a small black cauldron.

At the conclusion of the event, magazine-class students burned everyone's fears in the cauldron, while Design Editor Kiya Wilson provided closing remarks to the crowd.

"Abandon your fears and superstitions; they are of no use to you," Wilson told the audience of students and family members. "Let tonight be your excuse to be free."

Last year's issue of "The Centinel" won many national awards, including the National Highest Award from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and All American with Five Marks of Distinction from the National Scholastic Press Organization (NSPA), both representing the highest possible ranking from each organization.

When asked about the 2009 issue, Devoe noted that "this is our strongest issue since the inception of the program. I am proud of my (literary magazine) students. This is their moment."


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