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The Story of "Light & Shadow"

Creative Writing instructor Hillary Houle, who graduated from EHS in 1992, remembers the upperclassmen gathering to work on the literary magazine, which was a small writing club project at that time. Later, as an upperclassman herself, she submitted some poetry. That was in the early '90s. Ten years later, submissions expanded to include artwork as well. Over the years, the literary magazine has flourished as more and more students and faculty have submitted creative work. In the 2012-2013 school year, EHS printed the first full-color edition of the "Light & Shadow" literary magazine.

Today "Light & Shadow" is a nationally recognized student literary magazine that serves as a model for other schools. The publication has won awards nine years in a row from the National Council of Teachers of English, which Houle believes is a testament to the energy and effort our students invest in this publication, particularly the production editors. Usually, an upperclassman takes on this role.

"As a creative writing teacher," Houle says, "it is incredible to watch students dream up ideas then turn them into beautiful pieces worthy of publication. The earlier students practice the submission process, the braver they are to contribute pieces outside of school, at the collegiate level, and beyond. I've been the faculty sponsor for 'Light & Shadow' for nine years. It has been an honor to watch our students craft, polish, and publish their work. Hearing from alumni that are using their skills now to publish, produce films, create songs, or write video game stories is icing on the cake!"

"Light & Shadow" began as a passion project started by EHS students in the late 1980s. Volunteering their time to edit and produce a small black-and-white edition comprised of written pieces, the members gave it the name Light & Shadow to reference Plato's Cave. Back then, as long as a piece was appropriate, it was published. Now the literary magazine is edited by the Advanced Creative Writing class each Spring. Because of the number of submissions and limited space, the Light and Shadow production team uses a blind submissions process to select works. Together, the class selects the theme. They look for creative original content, clean grammar and punctuation, and adherence to guidelines. Each student in the class takes on an editorial role. Some edit poetry, some prose, and some take on the PR aspects—writing and delivering announcements in Chapel and helping plan bake sales and building the slideshow. The production editor has the largest role and is voted in by the class. This student manages all aspects of the magazine—he or she must maintain confidentiality because part of the job is managing the spreadsheet of all submissions. The production editor must be a strong English student overall with a keen eye for detail and an ear for "story."

Catherine Andrews '20, this year's production editor, views the experience as a bright spot in her high school career. "'Light & Shadow,' while a ton of work, was an incredible experience," she says. "I loved being able to read all the amazing submissions we received and compile them so the voices of the EHS community can be seen!"

"What cannot be lost here," Ms. Houle adds, "is the incredible addition of the artwork—the art helps bring alive the visual side of the written work. The Art Department has helped student artists capture their voices through in vivid ways. Mrs. Kate Philbrick, as head of Visual Arts, works with the art liaisons from Advanced Creative Writing to match images with the pieces that we've selected."

Over the years, the class has come up with clever ideas to get the word out. In 2012, the "Light and Shadow" team got permission from teachers to pop into classrooms and sing a holiday classic with original lyrics by the class. In 2018, after Hurricane Harvey, they had everyone in the cafeteria post their own "eucatastrophe" (a sudden and favorable resolution of events in a story) on banners in the cafeteria to celebrate the end of a chaotic year.

The editors are truly a team, says Houle—they've crafted poetry using sidewalk chalk to make announcements about the release, planned block-party playlists to promote the bake sales, and posted Instagram photos to get readers excited about their craft.

Bryanna Bazile, one of this year's editors, appreciates the magazine for what it's done for her. "Writing and reading are some of my personal outlets that help me escape, and 'Light & Shadow' includes them both. I love the editing process, even though it is a blind submission, and I love the fact that there are so many students and teachers who enjoy writing as much as I do."

The literary magazine has earned the National Council of Teachers of English REALM (Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines) Award, according to Houle, because of the talent at EHS. "Our literary magazine isn't just about prose or poetry, and it isn't just a visual arts look book. It's a hybrid that stands out because the words on the page come to life, enhanced by the artwork, and the poems and prose tell the stories of those images. What's truly incredible is that schools from across the country reach out to us to ask how we choose our fonts, or how we decide on an issue's theme. We've been asked how to structure the book, which is fantastic because it allows conversations between schools and among students who want to learn from their peers."

This was a different year for "Light & Shadow." Luckily, the 2020 production editor Catherine Andrews had already finalized selections for the magazine when campus closed down due to Covid-19. She and the other editors quickly pulled together final images, decide on the font, cover art, and color scheme."This year, because it is the first ever e-publication, it's bittersweet," Houle admits. "The editors truly enjoy having the on-campus reading to celebrate the book and share in the distribution process, so students can go back to Advisory to read it. But, are excited to make history by launching this e-version and to save paper!"

Find the online edition of "Light & Shadow" here.

--Emma Tsai