The Beauty of English: LitFest

Mehr Singh Editorials Editor   “What’s YOUR favorite subject?” Everyone’s been asked that question, especially as teachers welcome us to the first day of classes, luring us to love their class the most. More often than not, however, students begin to second-guess their answer. In middle school the choice was easy, but in high school as we delve deeper into classes, the distinction that was clear in our minds now seems fuzzy. And, while some don’t like to admit it, a major part of that fuzziness comes from us thinking about how we can apply our favorite subjects in the real world. As we sit in class everyday, some of us think “ how is this material useful to me”, and can’t find an answer. A likely guess is because we are sitting in class, going through the same routine, not really exposed to what’s out there. Lucky for us, teachers are helping us find that answer, whether it’s with Mathtastic Morning or the LitFest. Four years ago, teachers instituted Mathtastic Morning as a creative way to give math a new platform. Now, it even has it’s own special S day carved out in our calendar. Ms. Warren explains, “Initially, we were trying to avoid the disruption that the AMC caused teachers who lost entire classes because of the test. As we were brainstorming, the idea emerged that we could offer math activities to the entire student body for a few hours in the morning.” Despite the different reasoning for starting the event, students believe it brings them closer to understanding math in a creative way. Junior Marissa Weiss mentions, “I like it because it offers further exploration of certain subjects. Although some students and teachers may think it’s a waste of time, I happen to enjoy it because you are given freedom to choose an activity that allows you to participate in math in a different and fun way.” A variety of options makes the event fun, like the staircase activity, which engages students in probability and logic, or the YouTube festival on number and graph theory. Or, even the math scavenger hunt, “ which was minorly stressful” for senior Nora Cowlick. However, not all the events excite students; the AMC is the dreaded required test for honors and AP classes. Students who look forward to out –of-class learning time aren’t happy to come in at 8 for a national exam, in which students stress over the math questions that seem impossible. Junior Kristen Garrett says, “I take the AMC during mathtastic, so I don’t ever get to experience any of the fun activities.” The AMC may ruin the fun for some of us, yet the overall morning is a good experience. Mathtastic Morning might have encouraged the English department to develop their own event, with the first annual literary fest this year. While many students complained they didn’t really know what the LitFest was about, those of us who went really enjoyed the experience. Mr. Lombardo, one of the primary organizers for LitFest, explained, “In its fullest form, the Latin School Literary Festival will be an annual, week-long celebration of writing during which Latin students, faculty, and staff, as well as our community neighbors, will listen to, and learn from, locally- and nationally-recognized poets and authors. The festival will bring writers of all types—fiction writers, poets, journalists, screenwriters, playwrights, and more—to the Latin School, where they will spend time sharing their words and wisdom with our students.” It encourages students to share their work in literature and enjoy the work of writers outside the Latin community, such as Joe Meno, Patricia Smith, Joni Wallace, or Stuart Dybeck- all nationally acclaimed writers. Each writer offered a different technique to Latin students, whether it was Joni Wallace and her poetry written as a musical movement, Stuart Dybek with his short stories, or even Joe Meno, who most of us know from reading his short story “Midway” in sophomore year. Many students loved the idea and were so impressed by how much it had to offer, as Cam Arkin explained, “LitFest, I think, is amazing. I wish more people would take part in the experience. It’s really inspiring-just the fact that you are bombarded by talent and inspirational writing and authors.” Some students went to watch Louder Than A Bomb participants share their work during clubs block, or even had the chance to skip class to meet a well-acclaimed writer, but some couldn’t enjoy either. Teachers had plans for their classes, and clubs continued on with their meetings, leaving performers, like Cam, disappointed at the turnout. A major part of that is that, junior Pirapat Deepipat says, “ I don’t think people used their time doing all the activities. People probably enjoyed the activities, but I think they thought they could have used the time to do other stuff.” Maybe an option for next year, is making the LitFest during a designated assembly time, not to force students to listen, but to expose them to amazing writing Latin has to offer, which I’d say equals, if not exceeds the work of community writers who came. If students had heard the writing at the Thursday night event, the theater would have been packed. The writing made you laugh, made you cringe, made you close your eyes and enjoy how each word flowed so easily to the next, and made you love writing even more. Tina Czaplinska shared her brilliant writing talent, while we heard an excerpt from Mr. Lombardo’s new book “ The Day of Palindrome” which was emotionally thrilling, or Ms. McGlinn’s vivid poetry that everyone should really read. If you were confused, or unsure about the LitFest, and contemplated that it might waste your time, you were wrong. You missed out on hearing some wonderful lines, like Tina’s “I can hear the crumbled piece of paper in your skull unfolding undoing. ”Now that’s beautiful-just beautiful. Mr. Lombardo even learned from the event, saying, “ Some lines are just simply beautiful. They are like words in a song that are so good, you wish you had thought to write them, but even more than that they encourage and make you write more.” Mr. Lombardo’s words embody what both events were about. It’s the idea that students and the Latin community are exposed to so much more than just what we learn sitting in class. You don’t even have to enjoy the two subjects to have a good time, because in each event you learn more than just plain math, or just English. It’s the idea of seeing how we use it and how that can offer us so many possibilities. We may not have found our answers, but most of us definitely stepped a bit closer to answering the looming question.  ]]>