Marauders have a variety of opportunities to share their voice, whether it’s through student council or joining high school journalism. One opportunity unique to the Maclay community, however, is the Notes from the Underground (NFTU). NFTU provides students with a chance to convey their thoughts and feelings through literature and art, which is then published to the Maclay community. These art forms can express a variety of emotions and ideas, as the NFTU emphasizes the value in expressing oneself.

Acting as one of the three student-based publications for Maclay, NFTU is fundamentally literature oriented, but it also includes various classifications of art. Since the creation of NFTU in 2016, the range of entry types allows students’ passion for writing or art to shine through the creative freedom that the publication has designed. 

“[Notes from the Underground] integrates everyone in the community,” senior Kate Krizner said. “I’ve gotten submissions from people I didn’t even realize wrote, and [I] saw how talented they are. Everyone has a story to tell, so getting to experience that and read that and put it together in a written form means a lot to me.” 

All Maclay upper school students can submit their work to NFTU, but the opening for entries doesn’t stop there. As of this year, new voices from around the world have been submitted to NFTU. 

“With the advent of our website, high school students from all over the world can submit now,” class sponsor Craig Beaven said. “Last year we had a submission from Texas that was excellent, and this year we have submissions from Australia, Africa and all over America. We’re able to draw from the best students not just in Maclay, but in the world.” 

With so many fresh and insightful pieces of work being submitted, the editing process is crucial to ensure the author’s thoughts and avidity are best conveyed. During this school year, senior Eli Mears holds NFTU’s managing editor position, which entails reviewing all submissions first via the publication’s e-mail, underground@maclay.org, and dispersing them amongst other editors for a secondary assessment. 

“I’ve become a better editor of my own writing and other people’s,” Mears said. “When you first start editing work, it’s frankly easy to be overly critical, but you become more humble, a better writer and more self-aware.”  

Working hand-in-hand with Mears and her fellow NTFU members, Krizner is the Editor-in Chief of the publication. Along with her duties of overseeing and aiding the staff, organizing meetings and compiling the submissions into a meaningful order, Krizner is a professional and enthusiastic reflection of the entirety of NFTU’s staff. 

“Leadership has been a big one [skill] for me,” Krizner said. “I’ve been making sure everyone has everything they need and [are] being organized. I’ve also gotten to work with a lot of people, so that’s refined my personal connection skills.” 

While Mears and Krizner have significant responsibilities for the class, their fellow members also make major contributions. Sponsored by English and Creative Writing teacher Dr. Beaven, NFTU’s remaining staff positions include the poetry editor, fiction editor, art editor and copy editor.

“I love working with the students who are so enthusiastic about literature and art,” Beaven said. “I love publishing and showing [the submissions] to everyone.” 

After a great extent of time and effort on both the publication’s staff and the writers’ end, an issue, or compilation of submissions, will be finalized. This year’s issue is expected to be released towards the end of the first semester and correlates with an evocative theme: literature’s ability to heal. 

Some of NFTU’s past issues. Photo courtesy of Notes from the Underground at https://www.thenftu.com/issues.

“The female staff this year became deeply involved this summer by working at a shelter for battered women,” Beaven said. “They became super inspired by those stories, so the theme this issue has to do with literature’s power, necessity and ability to expose tragic circumstances that would otherwise be ignored.” 

Marauders have found that sharing their input on such important topics is a fantastic way to become comfortable with expressing themselves. Contributing to the publication with pieces because of pride or enthusiasm for their work is strongly encouraged. 

“I joined the club freshman year, because my senior friend, Anna Kate Daunt, enthusiastically told me about the literary magazine,” Mears said. “I wrote some terrible poetry, but [NFTU] were like ‘oh, a freshman submitted it and they care,’ so they published it. From that point on, I was pretty enthralled about [the publication].”

There’s also a special twist to submitting to the publication: a contest. The staff members of NFTU select the best submissions of poetry, art and fiction, and provide a prize as well as a gift card to Midtown Reader. To become a candidate, students must submit to the publication by either emailing their pieces to underground@maclay.org or entering them on the official website. 

For Marauders who want to join the class, NFTU is relatively selective when choosing new staff members. The majority of its staff members are upperclassmen who applied a year prior to becoming an official addition to the team of literature lovers. A great way to start your NFTU journey, however, is simply taking the helpful steps of submitting entries to the journal and contacting the staff or sponsor regarding the application process for staff positions.

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