This year has been a whirlwind of change and expansion for The Essence: a new supplemental website featuring student music compositions, dance, and theatre performances; critique and perspective for last year’s magazine from the National Scholastic Press, who awarded us their highest distinction, “All-American”; a superior rating from National Council of Teachers of English; a push to become self-funded, thanks to the sponsors noted on our first patron page; and a documentary of our newest initiative, the 100 Journals Project, which invited the student body as a whole to tap into their inner artist.
In the midst of this expansion, we found freedom expressed through a motif of birds. Each of us is a caged bird, though our cages are all made of different materials—social pressure, self-criticism, fear of external rejection. Within these pages are the free birds of Neuqua Valley that have burst through their cages—and in this magazine, we honor them.
The Essence could not have taken flight without the help of two dedicated groups: the artists and the editors. The willingness of the artists to bare their souls to strangers and the dedication of the editors—who toil after-hours in the computer lab on warm, sunny days—is the force and the backbone of this magazine. Separately, their efforts are hazy, unfocused; together, they culminate in a vision that is so much bigger than either group individually, that moves and inspires and elegantly documents the latest chapter in the story of our lives. To these students, we extend our deepest gratitude.
A special tribute must, of course, be made to our sponsor, Gillian Schneider, who has boldly stood behind the club as we experimented with the 100 Journals and sought to surpass our own progress. Her energy and drive and willingness to supervise us well after school hours are invaluable.
We now stand to define a new decade, offer a chance for new voices to speak out and be heard—so, on behalf of the artists and the editors, we now proudly present to you the fourteenth edition of The Essence.
Sincerely, The Senior Editors Zaynab Quadri, Faye Tabor, Stephanie Olmstead