The Redwood Literary and The Foundress, two magazines created by Berkeley High School students, are rebooting this new school year. The founder is a BHS class, and publishes regularly on their website, and distributes paper editions at the end of the school year.
Redwood Literary Magazine, a club of BHS, writes short stories and poetry and publishes quarterly. It is student-run, with Auden Svoboda serving as the magazine’s editor.
“(Redwood) is super fun,” said Claudia Johnson, a senior who joined Redwood as a freshman and joined the Foundress class this year. “(At Redwood) we learn to read other people’s writing, you get a lot of feedback on everything you do. (We) post quite often, so you have plenty of chances to write.
According to Johnson, writing for BHS magazines improves writing skills. She said, “It helps because you’re improving your own editing skills and also knowing how to give constructive feedback to your own.”
Ms. Faur, a teacher at BHS, teaches Literary Magazine, English for English-Speaking Newcomers and is the creator of the Literacy Magazine class. Faur explained that she created the course three years ago. Any teacher can decide to create an optional course if he feels the desire. The teacher’s job then is to create a curriculum and have it approved by the school district. The Literary Magazine class serves as both an elective and a way to earn credit for the English course. It is in this class that students create and publish the BHS literary magazine, The Foundress.
“I like (The Founder) a lot. We do a lot of writing, which I feel like I don’t do a lot in English classes,” said Otto Harris, a senior at Academic Choice, who is taking the course this year.
The founder has a strong focus on crafting fiction, short stories, and flash fiction at the start of the school year. Until the middle of the year, where the class focuses more on creative non-fiction and poetry.
“We develop this body of work over the course of a year, we put the website together, and then we do one hard copy a year,” Faur said. “This hard copy is given out to students for free…we get about 100 copies and we sort of distribute it that way.”
The Founder’s Hard Copy is the official magazine with at least one story submitted by each writer in the class. The magazine is also filled with art and photography. “We have an art department and they work both creating art for the magazine as well as soliciting submissions and managing photography and video production artists. All art classes are encouraged to submit,” Faur said.
Sol De Ugarte, an AC senior, has been with Redwood Literary magazine since their freshman year and has now been promoted to editor, where they edit other people’s stories and write their own stories.
“We kind of have a peer-editing situation,” De Ugarte said. “So everyone edits each other’s work, but the editors are the first to like, to make broader comments…the editors are like a starting point.”
The mission of these two BHS magazines is to help students find their creative voice and be able to share it with people. Creative writing, short stories, and poetry are writing arts that most students in regular English classes don’t practice as often as non-fiction. “We just don’t write enough creative writing in school,” Faur said.
People who are not following the Founder class are also invited to submit an essay on the magazine’s website. Students have the option to submit as many times as they wish.
“(The Founder Class) is an intensive and serious English course. It’s not like a workshop where people come in and hang around and do what they want. It’s actually a very structured class, and sometimes students aren’t prepared for that,” Faur said. “A lot of students who don’t think they’re writers at first really discover a passion by engaging in their own creative work,” she said.