Mars students start magazine, writing club
Cranberry Eagle
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February 18, 2013
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Mars High School students Jeanna Sybert, left, and Michaela Valenta display the latest edition of Ink by Anonymous on Feb. 4. The teens started the new magazine and the Creative Writing Club at Mars. The magazine will eventually be published quarterly.

ADAMS TWP — A group of Mars High School students have teamed up to showcase their fellow students' literary and artistic prowess.

Junior Michaela Valenta and sophomore Hannah Webb are the catalysts for Ink by Anonymous, the new student literary magazine that debuted this month. Junior Jeanna Sybert lays out and oversees printing of the publication.

Also new is the Creative Writing Club that was formed in conjunction with the magazine, but all students at the high school are welcome to submit poems, short stories or artwork for publication.

Michaela said she wanted to start the student-generated magazine because of the plethora of literary and artistic talent at the high school. Michaela, president of the Creative Writing Club, hopes the magazine will give all Mars writers a venue.

The inaugural issue was published in December, and another installment should arrive in the school shortly.

While more editions are planned for 2013, the magazine will eventually be published quarterly.

Michaela explained the magazine's title allows contributors the option of using pen names or simply “anonymous” on stories of a sensitive or highly personal nature. She said Principal Todd Kolson will review each issue for content reasons before the magazine goes to print.

“We want our contributors to feel comfortable and confident in what they are putting out there,” Michaela said.

She hopes more artwork, and even photography, will be included in future editions.

The December issue of Ink by Anonymous includes cover art by Taylor Zediker and 21 poems and short stories by various students. Titles include “A Salute to the Armed Forces,” “Don't Touch the Mirror,” “You've Made It This Far,” “Hero,” and “An Unbreakable Love.”

Jeanna, club vice president, said layout and design was much more complex and nerve-racking than she expected.

“It's a long, complicated process,” she said. “We're still trying to work it out.”

But she said the work was made infinitely easier by the help of her mother, Donna Sybert, who lays out most of the Butler Eagle each day in her job as news editor.

Jeanna said in addition to helping put the magazine together on Adobe Design software, her mother explained the psychology behind layout, placement and the reader's eye. “I thought that was pretty interesting,” she said.

Jeanna said writers who express an interest in submitting an item are given a deadline, and she collects the emailed submissions in preparation for an editing session at a club meeting.

The hard work of placement and layout then begins.

“We want to make sure the spacing is good and make them look clean,” Jeanna said.

Ink by Anonymous is printed at the school, but Jeanna hopes to enlist a local printer for future editions.

The Creative Writing Club has 36 members and meets during and after school to join in writing exercises that encourage creativity.

In one activity, members begin with a place and develop characters, motivations and plot lines centered around that location.

Members also work on their magazine submissions during club meetings.

Both Michaela and Jeanna said the feedback from classmates and teachers was positive for the first issue.

“We are really happy with how well it's been received throughout the school,” Jeanna said. “I hope we can continue to impress.”

Michaela said she hopes the magazine will continue after its founders graduate, which she thinks will happen with the help of the Creative Writing Club's sponsors, teachers Darcy Silbaugh and Matthew Karczewski.

“My hope is that we are making something that everyone in the school can connect to and enjoy,” Michaela said. “It should be something for the entire school.”

A copy of Ink by Anonymous is available on the district's website,, by clicking “Our schools,” then “Mars High School,” then “Announcements” under the house icon on the top left corner of the page.