When the Daedalus editorial team learned the Upper School was scheduled to have two author visits in one week, it got them thinking—GA provides its students so many opportunities to pursue their interests in literature and writing, why not find a way to celebrate that as a community?
The girls quickly got to work planning a week of events and activities they titled Windows and Words around the two author visits. On Monday, Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan spoke to a joint GA/WCK audience in connection with her book Manhattan Beach, and on Thursday, alumna Courtney Maum ’97 would be discussing her third novel, Costalegre, and also running two workshops.
So, Monday morning last week, students entered the Upper School to find blackout poems created by Daedalus editors, writers, and artists taped to the windows at the bottom of the stairs at the main entrance. A blackout poem is created by using a marker to redact words on a page until what remains is a standalone poem. In this case, the students made blackout poems using pages photocopied from Manhattan Beach and Costalegre.
A highlight of the week—as well as its namesake—was a collaborative community writing project, Windows and Words. Each of the three senior editors of Daedalus took markers to the windowed walls of the Upper School and wrote a single line or sentence at the top of the pane. At Monday’s morning meeting, students and teachers were invited to add lines at their convenience with the goal of creating three collaborative poems or stories by the end of the week.
“Writing on the windows seemed like a unique way to encourage participation,” said editor Laura Kapp ’20, “It was so much fun to pause next to the windows and take a look at the evolution of the story on the way to class as well as come up with our own sentences. I had people approaching me excitedly all week long, including peers I don’t know as well, to tell me about the latest development on the windows. It was great to see how the project engaged the whole community.”
Upper School English teachers also got in on the action. Each day, teachers took turns sharing favorite poems or literary excerpts with the entire Upper School via email. The week concluded with a Friday afternoon “coffee house” open mic event. Set up in front of the library fireplace, Upper School students were invited to share their writing with their peers.
“My favorite part about the week was hearing more literary snippets than usual in hallways,” said Daedalus editor Megan Meyerson ’20, “students saying how much they loved or were surprised by their English teacher's favorite passage, discussions about the visiting authors, or one girl encouraging another to share a piece of writing at Friday’s coffee house. I also love how spontaneous the week became. Even more fun, maybe, than the formal events was seeing the unplanned stories materialize on windows all over the school and feeling the communal celebration of words in equally silly and profound ways.”