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Reflecting on a journey: Nevada Joint Union High School District students publish first issue of literary magazine

The pages are professionally crafted, highlighting arresting images and descriptive passages meant to emphasize the narratives and experiences of the young people who created them.

They are a part of “Journey,” the first issue of an annual student literary magazine entitled “Reflection,” established by attendees of the Nevada Joint Union High School District. The magazine was officially published in April.

Spearheaded by Bear River High School journalism students, the magazine was meant to accentuate the lives of high schools students, showcasing the diversity of their challenges, success, struggles and triumphs, explained Bear River senior and editor in chief of the magazine Sonora Slater.

“One of our focuses was that teenagers, even though they’re young, have experienced a lot, and the experiences they’ve had cover a very wide spectrum, so we wanted to give them all a chance to share their stories,” she wrote in an email.

“We chose the theme of journey because it was powerful, but it’s also very vague, letting us have a broad range of entries and topics.”Sonora Slater, Bear River senior and ‘Reflections’ editor in chief

The literary magazine had two main aims, said Slater: promote the arts and build unity within the district, weaving connections between students at Nevada Union, Ghidotti and Silver Springs.

“While competition between schools is common, and of course rivalry can be fun, we thought this project could form a bridge and allow students to make broader connections with people in our area,” wrote Slater.

Nevada Joint Union High School District Superintendent Brett McFadden said students appeared before the school board in the fall to pitch the idea, which McFadden immediately approved of, providing them $10,000 for publishing and printing costs.

The articles in the first issue are gutsy and vivid, harnessing the power of the arts to address issues in students’ daily lives, he said. In future issues, the superintendent hopes to incorporate community and business partners to help buoy the magazine in case funding for it dries up. This year, McFadden said student leaders were highly professional and mature as they went about submitting the project idea, meeting deadlines, connecting with students and coalescing a visually stunning piece of art.

“I’m really proud of them,” he said.

Originally planning to distribute Reflection’s first issue to businesses around Nevada County before the pandemic, now the district is ensuring every student receives a copy, according to magazine advisor and Bear River teacher Christina Levinson. She said the district plans to distribute copies to students in the fall, but if residents want the first issue they can request one from the district office.

In order to receive submissions for the magazine, the student-led team surveyed English and art classrooms across the district and sent out emails to connect with others. The students, she said, created a professional magazine without receiving a grade or credit for their work.

“It was just a fabulous experience,” said Levinson.

The first issue, Journey, was meant to leverage memoirs, poems and short essays to chronicle the varied stories that manifest in student lives.

“We chose the theme of journey because it was powerful, but it’s also very vague, letting us have a broad range of entries and topics,” wrote Slater.

Symbolism lies heavy across the magazine, said the high school senior, especially the depictions of different traveling animals that stand still on the page.

“Every single piece of writing, photo, and piece of art was done by a student in the Nevada Joint Union High School District,” she wrote. “Even the cover was designed by a Bear River graphic designer, with hand-drawn animals that she specifically picked because they’re all animals that migrate, and go on their own journey each year.”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.

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