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Wed., Aug. 22

August 23, 2012

As John Sebastian said back in the day,

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

As promised, let me try to briefly recap the talking points of our departmental meeting today:

1. Congratulations again to Mr. McInerney for his award-winning play, The Stranger. We are going to try very hard to take as many Literary Arts folks as possible to City Theatre to see it when it debuts in October.

2. Congratulations to last year’s staff of pulp. Our literary journal once again captured the Gold Award from Columbia Scholastic Press Association and got, by my count, our highest score yet. The judging for the CSPA awards comes later, but this is certainly proof of the excellent job last year’s staff did.

3. In case you haven’t heard, Davy Rothbart is kicking off his national book tour at Lincoln Park at 6 p.m. Sept 4 in the Black Box. He’ll be accompanied by his musician brother, Peter. It’s a free show, and we are going to have a dinner for all Literary Arts students at 5 (in our HQ, and maybe out on the balcony, weather permitting). This will be a great way for old and new folks to have a chance to meet. Davy will also be at Lincoln Park the following afternoon for a workshop — more info on that soon.

4. We passed out schedules of LAVA shows this year. The format has changed a bit: we will have mini-shows (LAVA Lites) in October, December and March. These will be smaller readings, maybe on one of the mezzanines, and a little more informal — a good chance for first-timers, especially, to read. The big shows are in January and May.

I do expect that all Literary Arts students will attend three events this year: the Davy Rothbart show, and the January and May LAVA events. I’ve been against coerced attendance in the past, but as I said today, we pay too much money to our guests to have anything less than stellar attendance when they’re here.

5. On the fast track: our Associate Degree in English program. This will be like the Dance Department’s existing Associate Degree program, and will involve a combination of Literary Arts classes and CCBC classes currently offered through Lincoln Park. The details are still being worked out, but we are hopeful that the program will officially be in place next fall. Current juniors should be taking CCBC classes this semester if they want to have a shot at qualifying, assuming everything goes as planned.

6. That brings up the dreaded D/F policy. It’s still in place, and now the stakes are potentially even higher. if you want to try for the Associate Degree program and you get a D or F in a Literary Arts class as a junior or senior, that pretty much ends your chances. Which, I must say, I think is fair, But then I would, wouldn’t I?

7. As you got a sense of today, there’s going to be standardized testing this year — lots and lots and lots of it. Someone calculated that of the 180-odd instructional days this year, about half will feature some sort of testing. And we not only have PSSAs for seniors, seventh and eighth graders, but now there’ll be Keystone tests for juniors and maybe even sophomores. And that’s before we even get to the Terranovas.

That’s all very confusing, but one thing should be easy to figure out: Every minute in arts classes is gonna have to count this year. If you miss a bunch of school, you might as well just drop all your arts classes, because there will be no point in your taking them.

8. In a related vein: this isn’t official school policy — yet — but it’s gonna be our policy: If you are a senior and you are as much as one lesson behind in LI at the semester break, I refuse to schedule any arts classes for you next semester.

9. There will be an increased emphasis on submissions this year. Most of you did the required submissions last year, but you did them in a way that inspired little confidence. (i.e., you submitted all three things the night before your portfolio review.) Mrs. Kennedy will be here to help with submissions this year — she’ll be keeping track of them, and she’ll help people develop effective query letters and followups.

10. Finally, those people who have schedule issues: patience is, indeed, a virtue. If I’ve talked to you already, I’ll do my best to help you make changes. if I haven’t talked to you yet, I will. I feel pretty certain that by the beginning of the week, everything will be sorted — which would be a new record, and pretty darn good if you ask me. Which you didn’t.

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