by Aila Boyd

Lori Wingo (left) and Hannah Wright review student
submissions to “Currents.”

“Currents,” a magazine published by the Literary Club at James River High School, is set to host an open mic/poetry slam event on February 15 from 6-8 p.m.

at the school in order to raise money to cover printing costs for this year’s edition. According to Lori Wingo, the faculty advisor for the club and an English teacher at the school, it costs “a little over $2,000 to produce” to magazine.

“We’re shooting for the sky and hoping we get the funds,” Wingo said. Once the magazine has been published, the plan is to enter it into a competition administered by the Virginia High School League (VHSL). In order to be eligible for the competition, the magazine has to be mailed off by June. The awards ceremony will take place in October. Wingo explained that in order to keep printing costs down, fewer pages were included in past editions. Multiple pieces of writing and artwork were included on the same page in an attempt to keep page counts lower as well.

As a result of having fewer pages, the magazine was penalized by judges from the VHSL. Wingo and the editor-inchief, Hannah Wright, don’t want that to happen again. In an attempt to produce the best magazine possible, they have decided to try to raise funds to cover the cost of additional pages. Last year, the magazine was 40 pages. This year, they plan to add 16 more pages. In total, 500 copies of the magazine will be printed. When considering whether or not there is still an interest among students at the school, Wingo said that the interest, as well as the talent, is still there. “I cannot say enough about the abilities of these students. They’re strong writers. They’re innovative with their thinking. They’re creative,” Wingo said. “This is just the perfect vehicle to showcase these talents.” Wright noted that she’s seen a considerable uptick in the number of submissions this year. “We’ve had a lot to pick from,” Wingo said, explaining that the number of submissions this year was in the hundreds.

Wright, a senior, said that despite her love of writing, she doesn’t plan on pursuing it in college. Instead, she wants to study musical therapy. As she looks to college, she said she’d like to be involved in a magazine at whatever college she ends up going to. She also served as editor- in-chief for the 2018 edition. “Being able to say that you’re published is really good, even if it is just a high school magazine,” Wright said. “My favorite part is seeing people actually reading it because we work so hard to get the fi nished product, but don’t know if people really care about it or read it.” Wingo describes herself as a “frustrated creative writer.” She explained that she’s had limited success in getting published and wishes that she would have had a mentor to help guide her. Because of the fact that she’s a writer, Wingo said that she understands the value of being able to receive feedback. “Not every child is going to be an athlete or a cheerleader – the popular things, but when you have somebody that can get recognized because their gift is writing or visual art, why not recognize these students?” Wingo said. “Currents” was started in 2003 by Rebekah Woodie, who has since retired from the school. After Woodie’s retirement, the magazine went through several different sponsors until Wingo took charge of it. The name comes from the shifting of the currents in the James River. The very fi rst edition of the magazine won a trophy award from the VHSL.

The magazine under Woodie’s guidance went on to win numerous awards from the Columbia University Press Association, the National Scholastic Press Association, and the American Scholastic Press Association. “One year we had the best cover in the nation. Another year we had the best spread in the nation,” Woodie explained. All of the pieces for this year’s edition have already been selected. The magazine will debut at the Night of the Arts in May. Copies are free to students, but cost $5 for the general public. Admission to the open mic/poetry slam is $5. Student artwork will be on display as well. “I think it will be another great way to highlight the student talent,” Wingo said. “I hope this will be the fi rst of many midyear creative arts events.”

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