McKinley School Student Published in National Children’s Magazine

Apr 25, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Jack Stewart, a 10-year-old McKinley School student, points to his poem ‘Home,’ as it appears in the April 2018 issue of Highlights magazine.

An exhausting day at Irish Festival 2016 in Ship Bottom triggered young Jack Stewart to write a poem about the joys of being at home. He was 9 then. Well, it took a while, but 19 months later that poem was delivered to a national audience in one of the most popular children’s magazines on the planet.

“When I was 5 or 6, my grandmother gave me a subscription to Highlights for my birthday, and I’ve always liked the magazine,” said the 10-year-old McKinley School fourth-grader, whose four-line poem “Home” landed in the April issue. “I like the magazine so much that I thought it would be awesome to have my name on something in it.”

In fact, it was Jack’s second attempt to get his name and creative work into the magazine, which receives more than 35,000 submissions per year. About four years ago, he had submitted a picture for consideration. It apparently didn’t make the cut.

But following a day at the annual Irish celebration, he was inspired to write “Home,” which reads: Home, a place to go after a day of fun. Home, a place to go after work is done. Home, a place where family gathers. Home, to be another place I would not rather.

“I got home and just had a thought to write a poem,” he said. “So I just grabbed a piece of paper and wrote. It took me, maybe, five minutes. The first two lines came out really quick.”

He sent the verse to Highlights soon after, and months later he received the standard letter from Highlights thanking him for the submission and that it would be considered for publication at a later time. For more than a year, he kept reading the magazine, hoping one day to see it in print. Eventually, he gave up.

“I stopped looking after a while,” said Jack, an avid reader whose 16-year-old sister, Kylene, started reading to him when he was a baby, sparking his enjoyment of reading. “I didn’t realize they would notify us before it would get in. I got the letter saying they were considering it, but I just kind of gave up on it being in the magazine. I continued looking and kept getting disappointed.”

In February, after Jack had returned home from play practice, his father, Tim, handed him a letter with the Highlights logo atop the page. It stated that Jack’s poem was slated for the April edition. Sure enough, on page 34, in the “Your Own Pages” section, Jack’s poem is smack-dab in the middle.

“I got home. My dad walked up to me and said, ‘Guess what?’ and handed me the letter,” Jack said. “I read it and just ...”

He did a mini jig in the family’s living room to describe his reaction.

“I had a moment of shock, but then it was just total happiness,” he added.

So what’s next for the young poet, whose other interests include tae kwondo, gaming, music, fishing and hiking? Well, for now, he’s not sure.

“I don’t know,” said Jack, who, for now, wants to be a video game designer and developer when he gets older. “I haven’t thought about it yet.”

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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