Two summers ago, Kate McPherson and her Roosevelt High School Rough Writers teamed with Ooligan Press to kick start their student-run publishing project, Unique Ink. This July, I had the pleasure of being one of three Ooligan interns working with the students who will become leaders in the program come fall. In an effort to spread the word on this incredible press and its current projects, I turned to Kate, who was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
Could you tell us about your past experiences and current role at Roosevelt High School?
I’ve worked as an educator for many years—as a classroom teacher, a service-learning coordinator, and a senior project consultant. I’ve worked primarily in high schools, helping engage students in work that captivates their intellect and creativity while contributing to the community. I’ve always been impressed by students’ ability and desire to take on important issues and projects.
As a community engagement specialist at Roosevelt, I’m helping develop a student-led writing and publishing center that will help students grasp the power and tools of writing. For those who enjoy writing, we offer many enrichment opportunities and a place where students can experience the value of revision and feedback. For students more intimidated by writing, the center provides a safe and encouraging place to discover that writing and words can transform their sense of self and ability to navigate and shape the world.
What is Unique Ink and how did start?
The students of Unique Ink have generated the following mission statement: We are a student-led writing and publishing center working with the community to publish regional pieces. Our diverse writers use writing to express who they are. Roosevelt’s publishing center will enable youth and adult writers to powerfully raise their voices.
The press started as a summer internship where students created a book of interviews with local Freedom Fighters Freedom Fighters. The next summer, in 2012, Unique Ink partnered with Ooligan Press to publish Where the Roses Smell the Best. This anthology about Portland is now sold in bookstores and can be found in every room of the Heathman Hotel.
How did Roosevelt and Unique Ink come together with Ooligan Press?
Dennis Stovall saw our Freedom Fighter exhibit and book on display in the winter of 2012. Having established Ooligan Press at PSU, Dennis understand the value of publishing and its process. Knowing that PSU students would learn by sharing their publishing skills with high school students, he helped launch the Ooligan Press summer internship. With support from Ooligan’s current director, Per Henningsgaard, Ooligan students work with Unique Ink on editing, design, and marketing as volunteers or interns.
What is the school press working on right now?
We are in the process of relaunching our marketing campaign for Where the Roses Smell the Best. We are also in the final editing phase of two additional books: one on powerful scholarship writing and one on identity. Each publication began during our summer internship program. This year, Roosevelt will offer two sections of a creative writing and publishing class. Eventually we hope to offer dual-credit courses on campus for design and publishing, which would be open to students and community members alike.
What are your goals or hopes for the upcoming school year? What type of students do you have signed up for the writing and publishing program?
Forty-one students have preregistered for Creative Writing and Publishing, which will be a great opportunity for students to refine their writing skills and to learn how to create an ebook. We also hope to eventually publish print and digital children’s books that will engage young readers.
I hope students who love writing, editing, design, photography, marketing, and publishing will join together in this class. It’s a great opportunity for our students to combine their skills and intelligences to create personal and collaborative publications. I also hope college students and community members who have these skills and interests will work alongside our students. This enriches the experience for everyone.