Celebrating Student Creativity

School arts publications showcase writing and visual arts

When Madelyn Wind received a copy of The Clipper Collection that included her writing, she didn’t realize how that moment would feel.

“I don’t think I realized how exciting it would be because I thought it was just going to be a school-newspaper type of thing,” Wind said. “But I remember getting the book that had my writing in it, and I flipped to the page, and I was super excited to read it and show my family.”

A Sturgeon Bay High School senior, Wind is co-editor of The Clipper Collection, the school’s art and writing journal, along with sophomore Grace Rockwell.

At Sevastopol, a group of seniors has been using the last few weeks of school to assemble its arts publication, Pioneer Pennings. And at Southern Door, students in art and English courses have been working throughout the entire school year to produce work for Borderlands.

Through these publications, students in the creative arts can celebrate their hard work and achievements.

Borderlands Is Born

English teacher JamieLynn Teska and art teacher John McCaulley are taking on some of the responsibilities of editing and putting together Borderlands, but their aim is for students to take over all aspects.

Inspired by their time as students working for Sheepshead Review at UW-Green Bay, the teachers sought to start something similar at Southern Door High School. They proposed a creative-writing course that would culminate in Borderlands, now in its third year. 

There was significant interest from students as well. Only juniors and seniors may take the class, and of those eligible students, Teska said, one-third elected the course.

The nearly 200-page Borderlands is a combination of art from McCaulley’s students, work from tech-ed and wood students, and work produced in Teska’s creative-writing class. 

“There’s definitely a lot of material that is in each book,” McCaulley said. “It’s a testament to our students that they’re producing this much [work] basically each year.”

(From left) Dezaray LeRoy and Emily Purdy will be continuing their arts education after high school, but they have already seen the benefits of putting their work out there: A local author has asked them to help illustrate a book. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

Senior art student Emily Purdy and her classmate Dezaray LeRoy have had their art on either the front or back covers of each issue, including this year. 

“It was exciting,” said LeRoy about her first cover. “I got to go home and tell my mom that I was on the cover of a book.”

Sales from Borderlands go toward funding scholarships: two for art students and two for creative-writing students.

The Clipper Collection Is Resurrected

At Sturgeon Bay High School, The Clipper Collection has existed in some fashion since the 1970s at least, but it wasn’t until several years ago that it was revitalized with the assistance of Dee Paulsen, a retired language-arts teacher and a founding member of Write On, Door County. Paulsen turns to the English teachers each year for suggestions of motivated students who can take on the project.

The Clipper Collection has seen many iterations and styles over the years. Photo by Grace Johnson.

“I love art and English, and I think it’s [The Clipper] such a cool thing,” Wind said when asked why she decided to accept the position. “I’ve loved looking through them in the past and have had some of my stuff in it as well.”

As volunteer student editors, Wind and Rockwell do the majority of the work for the publication outside of school. They lean on assistance from those in the English department to encourage students to submit, but Wind has found that one-to-one interactions have been the most successful.

In addition to submissions, Wind is working on the general layout of the book and sending a basic table of contents to Sharon Anderson of Inside the Door Graphic Design, who does the layout. (Anderson also paginates sections of the Peninsula Pulse.) John Nelson at Door Guide Publishing prints the publication. Paulsen helps by seeking donations for the printing costs.

(From left) Sophomore Grace Rockwell and senior Madelyn Wind serve as co-editors to lead The Clipper Collection. Photo by Rachel Lukas.

Working as co-editor of The Clipper Collection has influenced Wind. Seeing people be vulnerable and explore that through their writing and art has given her something to work toward.

“I really love the idea of teaching people and helping them see how they can express themselves,” she said. 

Pioneer Pennings Has a Long Tradition

Sevastopol’s Pioneer Pennings also goes back to the 1970s, but with only a few weeks to put it together and one adviser, sometimes it looks as though it won’t come together.

“I think it’s important to continue to celebrate writing, and that’s why it’s so important to me to keep the Pennings alive,” said Mindi Vanderhoof, who teaches English, journalism and yearbook courses. “Even in the years where it seems like there are not enough weeks left to do it, we really try to. It’s kind of this thing that’s dying, and I don’t want to see it die.”

After the students of her yearbook class finish the yearbook, they turn to Pioneer Pennings. This year, that’s a group of seniors. Typically, they select a theme, each write something to include and do callouts for submissions through the school’s Pioneer News, also taking suggestions from teachers. Because Pioneer Pennings is put together on such a short timeline, the school does not currently have it professionally printed. 

To students who feel hesitant about submitting or getting involved, the student staff and advisers offer encouragement to take a chance.

“If you’re scared of doing something, that’s a good thing,” Vanderhoof said. “That means that it means something to you.”

Beyond Creativity

Vanderhoof said she would like to see the publication grow, become less of an “afterthought” and receive more assistance. All of the advisers shared that sentiment: hopes that their publications will continue to grow, and also that students will learn how creative skills transfer to life beyond high school. They’ve already seen some of this understanding take shape. 

Vanderhoof said that although students at the start of working on Pioneer Pennings have a goal of choosing good content, they come to realize that there’s a lot more that goes into the process – and into potential careers after high school, including graphic design, marketing, writing and business management.

“When you start out a project like this,” Teska said, “your whole goal – and I think for both Mr. McCaulley and I – is to provide a venue where students can recognize and indulge in a career, not just a class in high school.”

Related Organizations