Abington’s Art and Writing Gets Another Award

The Student Art Magazine Showcases Student Talent


Michelle Poirier

The front cover of the 2018-2019 issue of Abington High School’s Student Art Magazine was designed by SAM member Hailee McClafferty ’19.

James Mulkern, Staff Writer

The Student Arts Magazine (SAM) club of Abington High School has been in existence for a few decades. Each year they publish a literary magazine of art and writing produced by AHS students. Mid-December is the deadline for interested students to submit their creative work such as poetry and prose to SAM for possible publication in the May issue.

Under the direction of SAM’s club advisor Mrs. Michelle Poirier, members of the club then meet once a month every two months. The current members are Emily Christian, Haley Cooper, Emily Dankese, Brianna McCadden, Hailee McClafferty, Erin McDermott, Abbey Odell, Sarah St. John, and Cecilia Lindo. During the meetings, members edit and design the magazine. They also conceive the overall aesthetic of the magazine by choosing a theme and basing the font and color scheme off of that theme.

Pullquote Photo

Sometimes, rules squash talent. When you take them away, creativity flows.

— Dr. Gonsalves

The members of SAM have applied for the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines (REALM) award and twice have seen success. First with the 2017 publication of SAM when it received the Highest Award. That year there were 372 entries from 40 of the 50 States.

One of the students who was published in the magazine that year was current junior Mikayla Littman who wrote a poem entitled “A Letter to Heaven.” Littman said that she “was excited” to have been published in SAM as it was her “first published poem of that year.” Her poem was part of the 2017 award winning issue.

The award categories that year were Highest Award, Excellent, Above Average, and Average. Abington’s Student Art Magazine tied for the Highest Award, along with Atlantic Middle School in Quincy, Falmouth High School, and Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham.

In January 2019, Mrs. Poirier was notified that SAM again received the REALM award. This time it was for the 2018 issue of SAM. For the 2018 REALM program, schools in 43 of the 50 states in America submitted 538 literary magazines to be judged. The award categories in the REALM program were First Class, Superior, Excellent and Merit. Abington’s Student Art Magazine received Excellent.

The purpose of the REALM award, which NCTE encourages schools to apply for, is to “encourage all schools to develop literary magazines that celebrate the art and craft of writing” and the award is a way for the NCTE to publicly recognize the literary magazines throughout schools in the United States that skillfully produce and showcase work of talented students.

English teachers at Abington High encourage their students to submit work to SAM. “If I see an exceptional story that catches my attention, I want it to have a wider audience, and that’s where SAM comes in,” said Dr. Gonsalves, English teacher, department head, and a former advisor of SAM.  She added, “I really liked seeing the creativity of SAM writers and artists and how the staff worked together to give the work a wider audience.”

In terms of criteria for accepting work into SAM, the staff looks for visual art or writing that evokes originality, authenticity, imagination, the strength and distinctiveness of the author’s voice, and emotion.

Regarding the criteria to win the REALM award, “The program looks for magazines with an effective artistic layout, a quality cover, and a lot of rhetorical variety (types of writing),” said Mrs. Poirier. “After getting submitted writing [from AHS students], we assess it and pair it with a submitted piece of artwork that may serve as an illustration for the writing.” It is in this way that the layout for SAM is established.

Many of the members of SAM are in the art program or just appreciate art. Cecilia Lindo ’21 is a current member of SAM who has not joined any other after-school activity but “decided to join SAM because of my artistic interests.” Another member of the SAM club Erin McDermott ’20 said she joined because she loves working with Mrs. Poirier. McDermott was a returning member this year.

People beyond club members appreciate having a place to publish creative writing at the high school. Dr. G. talked about the importance of creative writing overall. “I don’t see the same creativity when assigning essays. I don’t know one’s creativity until I assign creative writing. Sometimes, rules squash talent. When you take them away, creativity flows,” she said. For students who enjoy writing creatively, they should consider submitting their work to SAM next year.