Photo courtesy of Hannah Lonergan.
The odds were already stacked against them. Still, they pushed for their writing to reach the world.
Mirrors is a club that supports student creativity through a biannual magazine of poems, photography and creative writing, and Java Live open mic nights.
In February of 2020, Mirrors advisor Jennifer Shackleton took maternity leave, trusting the publication and events with temporary advisor Erin O’Connor. Soon enough, O’Connor rediscovered her passion for writing without limits, a passion that initially drove her to become an English teacher.
“Taking over this club has helped me to reawaken my love for creative writing,” O’Connor said. “Reading through the student contributions reminded me how important it is to give students a space to be creative and express themselves without the parameters of an assignment.”
Although students missed having Shackleton on the publication, an adamant advocate for the entire Mirrors staff prior to her maternity leave, soon O’Connor became a great addition to the magazine team. However, O’Connor didn’t know she would have to lead this group through a worldwide pandemic to publish their spring magazine online.
“With the school closure, we weren’t able to have our end of the year java live open mic,” O’Connor said. “We also weren’t able to print out the magazine and distribute it at the school. I hope that publishing it online will allow the writers to reach an audience and get their writing out into the world.”
Despite the inability to meet and discuss the magazine, it could not stop young writers from expressing their stories through many different creative means. To senior staff member Angelica DeBenedictis, the artistic process for each and every magazine became one of her favorite high school memories.
“Personally, I love creating our literary magazine,” DeBenedictis said. “It is really special to get to see all the art, poetry, and photography that gets submitted. We have such talented students at York and I am proud to print and show off their work.”
Senior staff members may not obtain the opportunity to end the school year on a typical note, but a virtual magazine provides some level of closure to the Mirrors experience. Although the creative process may end, the time spent creating in Mirrors will live with students forever.
“The students put themselves out there and present their unique selves to the audience,” O’Connor said. “The support that the students show each other really helps to create a sense of community in the creative process.”
In a year filled with abnormalities and roadblocks, Mirrors students made the most of the hardship. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Shackleton and O’Connor ensured students the ability to release inner burdens and share their artistic views with the York community.
“It is so important to allow students open space to express themselves,” O’Connor said.
To see the work Mirrors staff has created all year, check out the link and support York’s artists!