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The Board of Education highlighted Newtown Middle School’s literary magazine, Opus Optima, at its meeting on Tuesday, March 21, for winning a National Council of Teachers of English superior rank in its 2016 Program to Recognize Excellence.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jean Evans Davila said she was thrilled when she learned the NMS literary magazine had placed among high schools “as a top award-winning magazine.”
The middle school learned of the ranking in January from the National Council of Teachers of English.
NMS Principal Thomas Einhorn said many students put in a great deal of time to submit pieces of work to the magazine, created and published during the 2015-16 school year.
“It has things in here such as poems, short stories… [and] recipes. It has incredible art work, and all of this is done by our students and staff,” said Mr Einhorn. “So we are incredibly proud of this production.”
Advisors for the 2016 Opus Optima were eighth grade language arts teacher Abigail Olsen, reading/writing teacher Karen Colwell, and art teachers Leigh Anne Coles and Kristen Ladue.
Ms Olsen and Ms Colwell attended the board meeting with four student executive editors from last year’s Opus Optima — current NMS eighth grader Kyle Trahan and Newtown High School ninth graders Virginia Hepp, Aliya Hafiz, and Sofiya Hafiz.
For the National Council of Teachers of English Program to Recognize Excellence, Ms Olsen estimated Opus Optima was compared to 900 other school literary magazines from across the state.
“The magazine goes out for the award in the springtime, and we don’t find out until the following year,” said Ms Olsen, before thanking the students and their parents for attending the board meeting.
Each of the students introduced themselves to the board.
Sofiya said she had a great time working on the literary magazine. Virginia shared that she felt the literary magazine had a “really inclusive environment.”
“I thought,” Kyle said, “it was really cool to see a piece of mine published in a book that was a very good one.”
Kyle then read his short story “The Great Storm,” which was published in the 2016 Opus Optima.
Board of Education Chair Keith Alexander presented the students with certificates and flowers to thank each of them for their work.
“We really appreciate the work you have done,” said Mr Alexander.