aer•ie (âr’ē) noun
1. The nest of a bird, such
as an eagle, built on a cliff
or other high place.
2. A collection of literature
and visual art, published
by student editors
of Big Sky High School.
3. A home for young writers
and artists of Big Sky High School.
Dear Supporters of the Creative Arts,
Aerie Big Sky is a student staffed and edited literary magazine. We accept original poetry, prose, photography and illustrations from Big Sky High School students exclusively.
The program began in 1980, as an after school club. The first editions featured every submitted piece, stapled between two sheets of cardstock. Since then, Aerie Big Sky has transformed from the club that it once was to a class whose students spend several hours looking through submissions, designing the magazine using InDesign, and editing the final product before it is finally shipped off to our friends at Alpha Graphics in Missoula to be published. It has received high honors from the National Council of Teachers of English’s Program to Recognize Excellence in Student Literary Magazines for ten years.
If you are currently a student at Big Sky High School and are interested in being published in our school’s literary magazine please submit your poetry, prose, and photography to our email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any artwork you are interested in submitting to Aerie Big Sky please bring finished pieces down to room 44 where we will photograph or scan them and return them to you!
When I finally sat down to start this letter I realized I’ve written it one hundred times already this year.
I wrote this letter every time I asked this bizarre elective Breakfast Club collection of dorky teenage poets to show up for school on a Saturday. I wrote this letter in September from the bottom of a mineshaft in Butte, Montana when we lost Lorilee and I needed my eyes to adjust to the dark for a minute before I could think about what to say to my students. I wrote this letter when I gathered the courage to perform at my first poetry slam the following evening because that is what she would have wanted. I wasn’t sure if my legs could carry me onto the stage until I found the faces of my coworkers and my students and some of their parents in the crowd. I wrote this letter when I tried to think what I could say in five minutes at Lorilee’s memorial service to summarize decades of hard work building a legacy and the profound influence she’s had on me as a professional and a writer. I wrote this letter when I made notes on a piece of scrap paper in the back of MASC studio while I watched Aerie Big Sky welcome students from Two Eagle River and Seeley to the stage at our annual poetry slam. I never imagined a concrete warehouse against the railroad tracks could be so silent as it was when we waited for our fellow young poets to begin speaking. I wrote this letter in fragmented text messages to Robert Lee, Melanie Goeddel, Amy Miller, Meleina Helmer, and Donna Elliott because those are the people who helped shoulder the program this year. I wrote this letter from several different hospital rooms this winter, first in Missoula and then at the Mayo Clinic, but those are letters I couldn’t finish because I don’t ever want this opening letter to sound like a farewell or an apology.
When I returned to Montana my students wanted to know how we could even have a magazine and I wasn’t sure it would be possible this year so instead I told them what I know for certain. Aerie Big Sky is not a magazine. It isn’t a class or a book or a grade or a simple line on a transcript. Aerie is the beating heart of a widespread network of artists and writers. It is every night of sleep deprivation and proofreading and laughing about things that don’t make sense– a collection of nights that somehow add up to an identity so many students wouldn’t have built for themselves without this. I can’t tell you how many letters and emails I received this year from Aerie Alumni mourning the loss of their favorite teacher or how many of those letters started with, “Without Aerie I wouldn’t have…” or “I’m pretty busy teaching English in… but if there’s anything I can do to help…” Every year when I look for my Aerie kids in a wave of other faces hidden under caps and gowns I’m struck with an odd mixture of pride and loss. I used to think about how much they’ve had to overcome to make it to that stage– and then with a camera flash and a smile the moment they’ve waited for this whole time is over. But after this year, I think I’ve learned something.
People, like magazines, are cumulative. We don’t overcome, we collect and anthologize. This is why Aerie Big Sky will always be Lorilee Evans-Lynn and all of the grown up Aerie kids who write me from four states away to make sure we are still making this magazine. I don’t ask my graduates what they want to be when they grow up because I know I won’t lose them, and I know asking “What kind of person do you want to be when you leave here?” is more important than asking “What do you want to do for a living?”
Aerie Big Sky will always be Adie, Kenny, Emma, Jared, Mari, Jo, Madi, Jake, Corey, Gwen, Jorrien, and Darian. Aerie Big Sky will continue to raise a fierce generation of young artists and writers.
Of this, I will make certain.
Rebecca Carson, Advisor