by Rebekah Hunt
This summer term, I had the immense pleasure of participating in Ooligan’s collaboration with Roosevelt High School’s Unique Ink Publishing program. Organized by the incomparable Dennis Stovall, the program is a symbiosis between Ooligan students and groups of students from RHS, in which we help them create, design, edit, publish, and market their own book, and in return, we get practical experience sharing what we know about publishing.
The program is organized on the RHS end by Kate McPherson, whose tireless efforts have kept the whole thing funded and running for the past couple of years. The publishing center is student-run, just like Ooligan, and the students do all the design, editing, marketing, and planning for their books. However, they don’t have the benefit of a university-level publishing program like we have at PSU, so our help is absolutely vital to the process. In return for the help we give them, we get real experience teaching, organizing, and supervising the publishing process.
Each year, they publish an anthology of nonfiction, short fiction, poetry, and art all from around the Northwest. Dennis Stovall and the Ooligan students help them call for and sort through submissions, write acceptance and rejection letters, edit the submissions, design the interior and exterior layouts of the book, target their audience, market the book, organize events and readings, and anything else that may come up. I found that being involved with the process in a teaching capacity sharpened my own skills and understanding and gave me a new perspective on the publishing process.
The most rewarding aspect of the whole experience is the interaction with the RHS students. We got to spend a few hours a day four days a week with them, helping, teaching, organizing, and getting to know them. They participate on a volunteer basis, even choosing to spend their summer vacations learning the publishing trade and creating their books. These kids are smart, energetic, creative, funny, serious, sweet, and altogether awesome. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and through the experience, I found myself even more excited about publishing than usual. This program is seriously fun.
Above all, though, our help is essential to its continuation. Thanks to Dennis Stovall and our own Per Henningsgaard, the grant-funded program is getting increasing recognition and support from the RHS faculty, which will help keep it running. I encourage anyone at Ooligan who can possibly do it to volunteer for this program. You get PSU credit for it through Ooligan, but honestly I would’ve done it anyway. It’s an extremely rewarding experience and I hope everyone will sign up for future sessions. Help us keep this awesome opportunity for RHS students going!
You can email Dennis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up through the regular PSU class registration system, and you can find more information (and a picture of this term’s awesome RHS volunteers) on their website. Go sign up!
Stay tuned for more about the RHS collaboration, including a blog from the students discussing their experiences in the program in their own words!