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BHS journalism class has write vision

Post Independent/Kara K. PearsonBasalt High School students in Michael Lowe's journalism class just produced a published book titled, "Voices and Visions."
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BASALT – For students in Michael Lowe’s Basalt High School journalism class, it’s all about the book. And the book is about giving student artists and writers from Aspen to Glenwood Springs a voice – a way to present their work in a publication that surpasses typical high school quality. The goal, say two of the book’s creative forces, BHS seniors Rob Jeffrey and Matt “the Multimedia Guy” Hobbs, is to surpass what it means to be professional. The book is called “Voices and Visions,” the first edition of which Lowe’s creative writing class produced last school year and featured work from 200 students from high schools throughout the valley. That edition is now being sold in bookstores in Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood and on the class’s Web site, http://www.roaringforkpublishing.com. The creative writing class had compiled an annual anthology of its work for years, but when students saw that their counterparts in Aspen were creating a much higher quality publication, “the kids just said, ‘Let’s do something as good as Aspen,'” Lowe said.

Grants were written, doors were knocked on, and soon, Lowe and his class found themselves with the cash they needed to turn a class anthology into a professional-looking book, with its featured artists spread across the entire Roaring Fork School District. The book’s production and the first press run of 400 copies cost $10,000, Lowe said. So far, about 200 copies have sold at $30 each, and it’s already up for a second printing soon. Flipping through last year’s “Voices and Visions,” it’s clear that there’s nothing amateurish about it. Students laid out each page using Adobe InDesign – a program many large newspapers and publishing houses use to produce their papers each day. The art was photographed either by a professional photographer or a photo-savvy student. Much of the photography work this year will be done by Hobbs, a PowerBook-toting amateur film maker whose hobby and technical savvy earn him his nickname. This year, because the creative writing class essentially became a publishing class by the end of last school year as students designed “Voices and Visions,” the book is being produced by some of the same students in Lowe’s journalism and publishing class. The class also creates the BHS monthly newspaper. Lowe said the students’ experience designing “Voices and Visions” definitely rubbed off on their newspaper design skills, giving them a better sense of newspaper aesthetics.

“We definitely want to up the bar on it and set the high water mark,” Jeffrey said, adding that he and his classmates want to make the paper look more like a magazine. His goal for the paper, of course, is to make it “the most betterest” paper in the valley, he said. And that informs how the class designs the 2006 edition of “Voices and Visions,” sample pages of which were given a “funky” design, the students said. The vision, said Hobbs and BHS senior Danielle Ingram, is to give the book’s design more of an edge so it can be easily identified as a student production while still maintaining its professionalism. The class hopes to have this year’s edition done by the end of April. The class will begin soliciting submissions – or, rather, plastering schools all over the valley with flyers asking for submissions – in early February. Lowe’s class doesn’t stop at “Voices and Visions.”Even while they’re busy chronicling breaking news at BHS and laying out the book, some of the students are taking a different tack on book publishing. They’re creating several children’s books as an experiment, all of which will have a very small press run and will be sold on the class’s Web site.



With BHS newspaper editor Raquel Ribich at the helm of the project, the class is producing the children’s books that were written and illustrated last year by students in Lowe’s creative writing class. Lowe called the project “a trial run,” and he hopes to have a few copies on valley bookstore shelves next month. Students interested in submitting work for “Voices and Visions” should call Lowe at 384-5939 or e-mail him at mlowe@rfsd.k12.co.us. Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. 520bmagill@postindependent.com


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