The Fiery Hearts Behind Atlantis Ablaze

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Isaiah Moran

The entire team at Atlantis Ablaze.

Isaiah Moran , Reporter

The Osceola County School for the Arts contains a myriad of art programs, or “majors” for their students to choose from and enjoy. But on occasion it can feel a bit limiting for students who might be skilled in multiple art forms or find it necessary to use different art areas to express their thoughts. Thankfully, students are not trapped within the major they choose, and are given opportunities to explore the types of art they can make within the school. Among these is Atlantis Ablaze, the school’s literary magazine, which takes submissions from any student, regardless of age or major, allowing them to share their poetry, short stories, prose, and even artwork. They’ve also partnered with The OCSA Ledger, the school newspaper to make the work of the students available to anyone who might want to see it. Impressively, it’s almost entirely student-run, even with all of the responsibilities associated with publishing a literary magazine.

Split across four teams, Atlantis Ablaze is a masterclass in and of itself of the self-governance, drive, and creativity that OCSA hopes to embody. Each team contains a host of incredibly dedicated students with their own distinct personalities and talents, though present in every group is their shared passion and dedication to what they do, an element clearly present in their work.

In order to shed light on the students behind Atlantis Ablaze, some brief interviews were conducted with each team to find out more about them and shed light on each team’s collective character. The teams were asked a set of similar questions to better understand how each body goes about the same general tasks differently. Students in each team spoke freely during these interviews, answering at times as individuals and on behalf of their team.

The following interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity and brevity.

 

Public Relations

The first of the teams interviewed was the public relations (PR) team, known mostly for their cheerful demeanor. It’s true – being around them for even a brief period makes it hard not to smile, since one of them always has something clever to add to the conversation. Still, without them, few would know about the magazine at all, which might mean missing some of the brilliant pieces students have sitting idly in their hearts. It’s no exaggeration to say that their participation in the magazine is vitally important to Atlantis Ablaze as a whole, as without as many submissions, every team would struggle putting together a cohesive product of such consistent quality.

Q: What does your work consist of here?

A: Our goal as the PR team is to promote the literary magazine and show how unique our literary magazine is. We’re not just about words on a page, we have visual art, poetry, and prose, and there are actual people behind these things.

Q: How do you guys maintain organization?

A: For certain things, we do split up into teams. We have a lot of days where we sit down and discuss with each other, so we can all be on the same page. Since we have a lot going on for this issue, we’ve split up into teams for social media and event planning.

Q: Does most of your work take place in or outside of the classroom? 

A: A lot of the work we do is mostly online on social media, or somewhere outside the classroom. Most of our assignments consist of planning.

Q: Are there any challenges that came with working in this team that you didn’t expect?

A:I like talking to people a lot, but talking professionally was a bit more of a struggle. In our first encounter with Dr. Gilford (the school’s assistant principal), we almost made her choke on her yogurt! We also have to get used to adjusting if we have a plan that doesn’t work out when we talk to admin about it. In those cases, we have to shift everything.

 

Content

The content team possesses a nonstop energy that matches their workflow. Each member takes it upon themself to supervise someone else, and there’s a near constant ribbing between members over their passions, as every single student has some obsession that the others will seize an opportunity to joke about. Their role cannot at all be understated, though. If Atlantis Ablaze is a bonfire of art, the content team is the group that collects the tinder.

Q: What does your work consist of here?

A: Chaos. Honestly, though, we decide what’s accepted, what’s waitlisted, the backup pieces, making sure all the grammar is correct, and that there’s nothing that’s going to get admin called on us. We have a lot of fun here, especially for a group that’s supposed to be so focused. It’s because we’re in tune with each other; we’re able to get work done fast and have fun while doing it.

Q: What does a typical work day look like for you?

A: We’ll read through a piece, give a group critique, and meet up again for a final discussion to give a final verdict. We usually do have a waitlist of pieces, and we always assume we want to waitlist a piece until we’re done reading. We have to be cutthroat to make sure we’re not at the end of the submission period with 70 pieces left to read. When we don’t have any major assignments, we’ll be submitting to other competitions or something else. Right now, we’re practicing looking for what we want to see in pieces. It’s similar to our older reviews, but we take more time with it, having full conversations with it.

Q: Are there any challenges that came with working in this team that you didn’t expect?

A: One of the major things that isn’t really talked about is that we’re a safe space for writers here in general. We read very, very personal pieces. Pieces submitted to us that people wouldn’t even share with their family. Pieces come to us as a form of expression, trust, and faith in us. We have a responsibility to create a space that people are comfortable to submit work to. If that means having conversations with the people that submit to us, or having conversations within the team about how we can care for people around us, how we can move forward with pieces that are personal to us, and making sure that we’re creating a safe space as well.

 

Layout

The layout team is by far the most reserved of the bunch. Being the second smallest group, it makes sense that their presence is a bit more limited than the others, though coincidentally, it’s also entirely composed of diligent workers who never waste their time. Their efficiency is a blessing to the literary magazine, as without them, the final product wouldn’t look nearly as unified and clear-cut.

Q: What does your work consist of here?

A: We work to prepare the necessary skills for creating magazine spreads, making sure there’s proper art to each poetry piece, and stuff like that. When we look at a poem, we see what the length of it is, how that fits onto a page, whether the font needs to be adjusted so that it can fit on one page, and then we make sure that there’s space for the visual art pieces to flow well. We make sure it looks aesthetically pleasing, but also that it makes sense when you read it.

Q: What does a typical work day look like for you?

A: We’re very quiet and keep to ourselves unless we need critiques. Besides that, we’re very quiet. There’s a lot of independent work unless we’re sharing our pieces, where we might have to fix some things.

Q: How do you divide your workload?

A: We talk with Samara and Sherleen (the editors) to deal with how many pieces each of the members get. Last issue, each person got 3 poems to work on.

Q: How long does it typically take you to complete an assignment?

A: About a month; a magazine spread takes about a week to do, so around four spreads would take a month.

 

Editors

Easily the smallest team, the editors consist of just two students, Editor-In-Chief Samara Gonzalez and Assistant Editor Sherleen Plaud. Their energy usually maintains itself at a happy medium; not as quiet as the layout team, though definitely not as energetic as the content or PR teams. They are the first and last voices behind Atlantis Ablaze, and take it upon themselves to be the connecting thread between all the teams. As with the rest of the team, Atlantis Ablaze would not exist without them.

Q: What does your work consist of here?

A: We have to be a jack of all trades, able to work with all the different aspects each team has to offer; PR has their ability to work with and get attention from the public, or content’s ability to critically judge the work that’s shared with us, or layout’s eye for visuals and aesthetics.

Q: What does a typical work day look like for you?

A: We have to create things like the submission portals, Sherleen typically writes the announcements sent to the office to make sure we’re getting the word out beyond just social media. It’s a cycle of deciding when to open up the portals, how long to keep them open, sending pieces to content, and making sure that content that’s too personal to be put in a public space are protected and that the kids are okay.

Q: How much of your work takes place outside of the classroom?

A: Typically, we keep looking over the pieces that content looks at. Actually, compiling the magazine typically takes up quite some time as well. We also contribute to the visual art that’s put in the magazine, which is usually done on our own time as well.

Q: Are there any challenges working in this team that you didn’t expect?

A: The workload can be a lot of pressure, but what’s life without a little bit of pressure? Confidence, also, lots of confidence. You don’t really have a choice when you’re a leader, and all eyes are on you, looking for what to do. Being able to collect yourself even when you feel like you can’t is a lesson I had to learn. It’s not something I really thought about until I got here.

 

The staff behind Atlantis Ablaze always manages to bring something unique to the table, but at the end of the day, they’re just students doing what they love. It is a testament to their hard work, collaboration, and desire to share their thoughts with a larger audience.

With the growing popularity of literary magazines as a format for sharing literature, it’s no surprise that OCSA has crafted its own. The students have benefited massively from it, too; through their work on Atlantis Ablaze, the staff has greatly honed their communication, organization, and their ability to compromise and take criticism in stride has improved tenfold. All of these things are precious skills to have that transfer easily to the real world, and won’t be forgotten anytime soon. Despite the pressure of strict deadlines and the sheer volume of work, these students have risen above their difficulties to create a safe space for their peers to explore a variety of topics and ideas.

Atlantis Ablaze has a second issue, What Comes and Goes that is currently underway and expected to release sometime during the week of May 8th-14th. It can be found along with the first issue, Lurking in the Lilacs, as well as every previous issue on The OCSA Ledger’s website under the “literary magazine” tab.

If any OCSA students are interested in joining the staff, you can contact your guidance counselor about your schedule for next year.