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CCHS literary magazine earns national honor

Expressions wins first place from the American Scholastic Press Association for the second year running

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Feb 8, 2024

Expressions editorial staff holds up their first in the nation award. Pictured are Copy Editor Nanami Constantin, Art Director Broderick Mann, Poetry Editor Lucas Rowzer, and Editor-In-Chief Lion Canter. PROVIDED

Expressions, Cape Coral High School’s literary magazine, won first place from the American Scholastic Press Association for its 2023 edition, making it the second year running the magazine has won the national contest.

This magazine previously won first place for 10 years in a row under the guidance of Sue Propert, a retired English teacher in the mid-2000s.

Expressions, which features poems, short stories, and art by students, is the official literary magazine for Cape High, journalism teacher Aaron Smoly said.

They try to publish the magazine twice a year.

The 2022-2023 magazine is published on Amazon for $18 with proceeds going to the Cape High’s Sunshine Fund, which helps families in need at Cape High School. The magazine is 50 pages longer than the previous edition, which is why there has been an increase in price.

The winning edition of Cape Coral High School’s literary magazine, Expressions. PROVIDED

Propert, Smoly said, was the class sponsor that taught creative writing in the 2000s. He said two years before she retired, the school’s IB numbers became so huge, she could not teach anything but IB English and creative writing was cut.

“I wanted to teach creative writing,” he said, adding that the class has had a lot of success since.

This is the third year in a row they have published Expressions.

“The first year the magazine was good, but it wasn’t competition worthy. We managed to win first in the nation and received another award last year,” Smoly said. “The fact that the students put that much time and effort into writing poetry and short stories, that are competition worthy and win awards, makes me feel great.”

He said for students to express themselves in a literary fashion is amazing, as students are constantly Tweeting and posting to Instagram. To expand their verbiage and write larger poems and win awards, makes him feel amazing, he added.

The latest Expressions magazine, 130 pages, features the works of 30 students.

“My favorite part of working on Expressions is working with everyone on our writing. I love seeing their poetry and having them comment on mine. Knowing that people are reading my poems is really cool,” said senior poet and third year Expressions writer Justine Crowder in a prepared statement. “I’m also excited to have my book of poetry published this year.”

A lot of the work comes from the creative writing class, although students in the school are encouraged to submit work through the Expressions Google Classroom.

The six-person editor staff team chooses which submissions will be showcased in the magazine.

“It’s a completely student-run publication, similar to the school newspaper,” Smoly said.

The 2023 edition Editor-in-Chief was Jaylen Marrero, who now attends the University of South Florida. This year’s Editor-in-Chief is Lion Canter.

“I learned a lot from last year’s staff. Their writing and presentation were excellent, but I believe that we have it in us to surpass that and maintain this level of excellence,” Canter said in a prepared statement.

Crowder and Canter, as well as four other students, are on pace to have personal books of poetry and short stories published on Amazon for their Capstone projects this April. The creative writing program at Cape Coral High School requires all third-year students to have a book published.

Cape Coral High School students Brielle Robinson had a book of poetry, “12-18” published two years ago and Anthony Longstreet had his book “I’m Proud to be Different: A Children’s Book about Autism” published last year.

The next edition of Expressions will be available in April.