Light the Way: New Creative Writing Class Brings Out Students’ Imagination

Typing away on their computers in room W1, the students of Mr. Tim Collins creative writing II class have taken on the new task of writing their own novels, while simultaneously running the Seaman High School literary magazine, the Radljost. 

This year creative writing II is a new addition to the classes SHS provides. Currently, the class can only operate during the second semester, but for the 22-23’ school year, the class will be extended to a full-year class. 

Creative writing II is the preceding class to creative writing I, where students are allowed the opportunity to express themselves through their writing and experiment with different types of writing, such as; advertisements, poetry, fiction, etc.

Mr. Collins, the teacher for the class, expressed that the additional class was essential for his students. “It wasn’t so much a desire as much as filling a need. The humanities can become lost in many ways in today’s world and it’s essential they be valued,” Collins expressed. 

The end goal for this class is for students to dedicate themselves to writing a book – whether it be poetry, a graphic novel, or an ordinary book. Each student has the ability to choose what kind of book they would like to write, and during the duration of the semester, the student is guided by their peers, along with Mr. Collins. 

“Creative Writing II allows students to do more than just write for a grade or for a teacher…students write for themselves and for each other, and each student is motivated to write for a different reason, but the ability to explore voice, practice speaking and listening skills, and explore how much power exists in literacy is important for our students…More than anything, it fills a void,” Collins said.

Junior Kaylie Vathauer, and Art Editor for the Radljost, has enjoyed her creative writing II experience, giving credit to Mr. Collins for being an insightful instructor, stating, “Mr. Collins is always very encouraging and supportive. He also gives great advice.”

Typically, the creative writing II class with begin with a ten minute writing-into-the-day journal where students receive a prompt and write from there. Then, they will move on to work on their book for 25 minutes and spend the remainder of their class time working on the literary magazine.

In 2019, the literary magazine, the Radljost (pronounced ya-thel-yost), was introduced to Seaman High School, mostly being put together by a few dedicated students and Mr. Collins. For the next few years, the Radljost would only be presented in an online format (https://shsradljost.wixsite.com/magazine), but this year it’s the Radljost staff’s goal to produce a printed version of the combined art, photography, graphic comics, and writing, that SHS students submitted. 

“We created the lit. mag. So that students would have a voice in an arena where they often feel like they have no voice,” Collins said. 

The name Radljost was chosen after a year of searching. This name was chosen due to it’s Norse origins, matching the Scandinavian Viking mascot SHS hosts, and was chosen for it’s magical meaning. Radljost means, ‘enough light to navigate one’s path’.

Enought light to navigate one’s path”

— Radljost Definition

 “This was chosen (and it’s telling this was pre-pandemic) because it points to the stage in life our students exist…many have just enough light to see their path, and when they enter the real world that light magnifies in many ways,” Collins explains. 

After working online for years, taking submissions from cardboard boxes spread throughout all the English classrooms at SHS, this year the Radljost staff has dedicated themselves to producing a printed version displaying all the work submitted to them this year. This allows the Radljost the ability to share the creativity of the SHS student to more people, rather than the limited online audience. 

Every student in the creative writing II class is given an editor role in order to manage The Radljost. Ranging from Co-Editor-in-Chief, to Art Editor, to Communications Editor, each student is in charge of a necessary part of keeping the Radljost running. Editors that special in topics like art, photography, and graphic novels approve the submissions sent to their respective category, and then move the submissions to the Communications Editor to get the student who submitted to approve any changes. 

After that the Online Editors work hard at uploading the new submissions onto the website. There are three Marketing Editors who think of ideas for marketing and fundraising, while the Treasurer keeps track of donations. 

Sophomore Saige Davis, and Chief of Marketing, said, “I enjoy the ability to take time in my day to be able to work on my writing. Being able to have a set time to write has helped me grow and express my creativity.”

There is also a Social Media Editor who has started the new Instagram for the Radljost. And finally, there are two Co-Editor-in-Chief roles who keep everything going smoothly, help staffers, and work on improving the magazine.

As a way to fundraise for their printed version, Mr. Collins has been selling pop and snacks in room W1, and the staff has previously sold Valentine’s poems and candy on Valentine’s Day. 

As the Radljost staff focuses on funding the print version and sharing the voices of SHS students, they’ve hit a stopping point as the number of submissions has decreased this year. The staff encourages everyone to participate and submit, printing their piece on paper and putting it in a Radljost box in any English room, or submitting their piece online on their website. They will accept submissions until the end of the 2021-2022 school year.