Scribe: The Literary Magazine at RHS
Updated: Jun 6, 2019
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Rutherford High School has been publishing a literary magazine for the last 42 years. The magazine, Scribe, provides students with a wonderful opportunity to share both their creative writing pieces and works of art. This is Rutherford spoke with Melissa Dougard, the Advisor of Scribe magazine and an English/Creative Writing teacher at RHS, about Scribe and how the creative team works together to design and publish this literary magazine.
TIR: When did you become the Advisor for Scribe? What do you enjoy about this role?
MD: I became the advisor for Scribe in 2001, when I started teaching at RHS. What I enjoy most about this role is that it gives me the opportunity to meet student poets and artists that I do not have in my classes; I am able to begin a dialogue with them regarding their creative pursuits.
TIR: How do students submit entries for Scribe? How are entries selected for the magazine?
MD: Students may submit poems directly to me or through the Scribe email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Entries are selected for the magazine by the editing team and me.
TIR: The editor of this year’s issue was Ciara Kelly. What were her responsibilities?
MD: Ciara was responsible for encouraging students to submit, reviewing submissions, planning club meetings, and working on the magazine layout.
TIR: The co-editors were Tierra Sherlock and Megan Lichtenberger. What were their responsibilities?
MD: Tierra and Meghan were given similar responsibilities to Ciara, as they are essentially training to be editors; however, they weren’t involved much in the layout but did help proofing the literary pieces in the magazine.
TIR: Superintendent Jack Hurley shared, "Scribe provides students with a vehicle to share their poetry and art . Having a 'published' piece is a wonderful feeling for a young artist . I enjoy reading Scribe every year. It brings back fond memories of my time as creative writing teacher at RHS." How long has Scribe been published at RHS?
MD: In order to answer this question, I had to ask my supervisor, Mr. Brian Ersalesi, for some research assistance. Mr. Ersalesi explained that the literary magazine was originally called Pub until 1977, but changed to Scribe in 1978.
TIR: Why do you think having a creative writing magazine is important to the high school community?
MD: The magazine provides an outlet to creative students who might not have found their niche in sports or theater or any other clubs. The students who are published in the magazine are so proud to see their work in print; the magazine debuts at the art show every year, and parents, teachers, and fellow students at RHS are able to read the literary work and see the pictures and photographs.
"To the writer, maybe it is just one small poem, but maybe to another student, it could serve as a bit of an anchor or an inspiration," Melissa Dougard told TIR.
TIR: Many of the art students contributed art to the magazine. How did this process work?
MD: Veronica Grillo, one of the Art teachers at RHS, assisted me in finding art work for the literary magazine; she was a huge help this year, and I’m grateful that we are able to work collaboratively.
"Scribe is a wonderful way to showcase the unity between visual and written works. In our programs, we encourage the students to make work that is meaningful and personal, and it's great to see it translate in a yearly keepsake like Scribe. We hand select artwork to pair with the writings and we choose cover artists to design and create colorful, eye catching pieces," explained Veronica Grillo.
TIR: As an English teacher and Creative Writing teacher, how do you encourage students to express themselves through writing?
MD: There are times when a student will come up to me after class or after school and ask me to read something he/she has written, and I feel so honored each and every time. I never take that honor lightly; personal writing (poetry, free-writing, story writing) is gold to me….if you share one of your pieces with me, I treat it as if it is sacred, because it is.
I have a small group of students who I meet with once a week, and we share our poetry with each other.
In Creative Writing, we do that on a larger scale and more frequently. It is imperative that there is a level of trust that is established when you’re sharing your poetry or creative writing with another student or with a teacher; without that trust, it’s impossible to be honest in your writing, and it’s impossible to evolve as a writer. So, because of that, I know it’s crucial that I share my own work as well--if I’m not showing you my writing then how can I properly teach you to be a better, more honest writer? How can I teach you to be brave and vulnerable in your writing if I’m not showing you what that looks like, what that sounds like, what that feels like? I can’t.