On Jan. 27, Becker librarians hosted a talented array of writers for our all-school Literary Festival. The longstanding biennial festival spotlights a variety of writers and connects St. Stephen’s students to creative professionals in a relaxed setting.
Both Middle School and Upper School students served in leadership roles during the festival. Student moderators led the individual festival sessions, and faculty and staff proctors were in charge of running the Zoom rooms, admitting participants and assisting in the sessions as needed.
“Due to COVID-19 constraints, this year’s Literary Festival was held virtually,” said Cynthia Bartek, head librarian. “Despite the challenge, our students and faculty rose to the occasion!”
Since this was the school’s first all-remote Literary Festival, none of the organizers or participants knew exactly what to expect, but they quickly discovered the benefits of a remote format. “We were able to invite presenters from a number of areas around the country,” Bartek noted. “Also, since we had no physical constraints relative to the audience size, everyone got to participate in their preferred sessions; and more faculty and staff participated than ever before.
“We also found that giving students of all ages the role of moderator helped many of them gain a variety of skills and allowed them to engage in direct conversations that were of particular interest to their peers,” Bartek added.
During the festival, the school community enjoyed the chance to hear poetry performances, see graphic novel drawing demonstrations, ask novelists questions about their work process, and learn more about journalism and business building. Participating writers, representing a wide range of genres, included Traci Chee, Young Adult (YA) novelist; Carrie Fountain, Poet Laureate of Texas; Lamar Giles, YA novelist; Chris Hooks ’08, journalist; Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, graphic novelists; Tim O’Brien, novelist; Lara Prescott, novelist; Ngozi Ukazu, graphic novelist; Mikaila Ulmer, St. Stephen’s student and entrepreneur; Eduardo Vega, poet and spoken-word artist; and Bryan Washington, novelist.
Many thanks to Literary Festival Chair Marianna Sher for her guidance and assistance with this major event, which benefits everyone at St. Stephen’s!