In 2013 an English teacher at Murrah High School in Jackson discovered a pile of literary magazines that the school first published during the year of its founding in 1954. Called the Pleiades, it continued to be published yearly for many years then disappeared and was almost forgotten. With the help of enthusiastic students, the teacher reached out to Murrah alumni for help in funding a magazine of student writing and art, and a new issue of the Pleiades was published.
The new Pleiades includes Murrah students' poetry, essays, and short stories -- just like the archival issues from the 1960s and later. Due to technological advances, today's Pleiades also features full color photograms and paintings. Murrah alumni will be proud to know that recent issues of the literary and arts magazine have won state awards from the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association including "Best Literary Magazine" and "Best Design." Pleiades staff advisor Sarah Ballard says, "We are known as being an outstanding publication producing mature student writers who win awards and go on to pursue careers in writing, journalism, and design."
Why are these successes noteworthy? An article for teachers in a 2011 issue of scholastic.com outlines the many benefits of producing a school literary magazine. Among them is that students get an opportunity to share their art and writing widely and also experience goal setting, decision making and -- importantly -- success! These are experiences that lead to many successes in life -- not just in writing.
In March 2020, in celebration of their 50th reunion, a group of Murrah alumni from the Class of 1970 developed the Murrah Pleiades Literary and Visual Arts Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The fund will create a steady income that will pay for the production of the school literary magazine for years to come, making it possible for the teacher to focus on teaching and the students on their creative endeavors and academics, rather than fundraising.
Without a guaranteed school budget to cover the yearly $2,000 needed to produce and print the Pleiades, students at Murrah are not assured a chance of being part of this important experience. We invite you to help Murrah's dedicated staff and students to secure more permanent funding for the Pleiades by contributing to the Murrah Pleiades Literary and Visual Arts Fund.
Our goal is to raise $25,000 by 2021, and eventually reach a target of $40,000 for an endowed fund.