"Tree Man" by senior Jason Li. (Photo courtesy of the Glass Knife)

After 20 years, Glass Knife moves online for adviser’s final publication

The final edition of the Glass Knife under adviser Joanne Melinson is not the typical literary magazine. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was moved online.

“I brought up the idea of creating an online publication as soon as school closed,” senior co-literary editor Anu Krishnan said.

The publication was changed from a magazine to a blog. It was published on Squarespace because senior Maddie Woo, who is part of the publication staff, had experience using the site.

The staff decided to break into smaller teams once school closed to accomplish its goals faster, according to Melinson.

Woo said communication was challenging due to the quarantine.

“Usually when we make the publication, we get together on weekends and talk about pieces and discuss how the book is going to look in terms of layout,” Woo said. “This time, it was more difficult because we had to use a Google document and write suggestions (on that).”

Krishnan said the staff changed its work process early.

“We quickly realized that we would not be able to have our frequent board meetings and work nights in person and would have to use Zoom,” she said.  “Some of our staff is in different time zones, and finding a time to meet that worked with everyone’s schedules is difficult.”

Krishnan said texting is inefficient, “especially if (people) take too long to reply.”

A difference Krishnan and Woo noted in the publication process was how the literary and audio pieces were posted individually, or in small groups, rather than simultaneously.

“Anu and (senior co-literary editor) Héloïse (Schep) typically edit pieces,” Woo said. “On Friday nights, they tell me which pieces are ready to go with which artwork, and (junior) Stephanie Ye sends me the audio that’s ready to post.”

“The Boss in Blue” by sophomore Lilah Shorey. (Photo courtesy of the Glass Knife)

The first online edition is the final publication for Melinson, who will step down in June after 20 years as the Glass Knife adviser.

“After doing it for 20 years, I thought I would like to direct my time and efforts toward other pursuits that I feel passionate about,” Melinson said in a March 4 online Octagon story. “Some of those being diversity, inclusion, equity, civic engagement and fostering our community of readers. It has been a bittersweet decision, as I have loved supporting the creative arts through the magazine.”

Melinson said there have been “so many highlights. I got to see something a lot of other people at the school don’t get to see: students creating something of their own. They’re not working for a class. They pour their heart and soul into it.”

Melinson said she’ll miss working closely with students “although I always joke that my job is to make sure students eat and don’t light anything on fire.

“A lot of times, (students) train each other. People will come to me with questions, (but) it’s really (the students) that take the reins.”

Melinson reminisced about the many traditions and inside jokes of the publication.

“We have what we call ‘family meals,’ which I kind of stole from the restaurant business,” she said.

Rather than eating at their workspaces, staff members would sit together during their work nights.

“We might talk about the book or other things,” Melinson said. “It’s a time to hang out together.”

Another tradition Melinson said she will miss is ‘family meetings.’ If someone wanted to make a significant change, they would call out, “Family meeting!”

“Rather than make the decision alone, everybody comes over, and they talk it through,” Melinson said.

Krishnan said she will miss Melinson and the Glass Knife’s family meals.

“Ms. Melinson has been supportive to all the staff,” Krishnan said. “Over the years, she has played an integral role in creating a fun and unique publication.”

Woo agreed.

“Ms. Melinson was always so organized, and she helped us get everything together,” she said. “She’s our number one fan, encouraging us and keeping us motivated. She’s definitely going to be missed.”

A favorite memory of Woo’s is the Glass Knife banquet after the first-semester finals.

“On the place setting, she had a picture that represents the person,” Woo said. “It’s a surrealist kind of art piece, and it was fun to compare who got what.”

Woo said the art demonstrated how well Melinson knew all the staff members.

As for the Glass Knife’s future, Melinson said, “It’ll be around in some form. But I don’t know the specifics. It’ll probably depend on who (is) hired for different jobs, and who wants to do what.”

Head of high school Brooke Wells said he plans to name the Glass Knife’s new adviser soon. New student leaders will be announced in September, according to Melinson.

—By Ethan Monasa

Originally published in the May 26 issue of the Octagon.