You’ve met the staff and seen the books, but have you ever wondered what it’s like to work on BatCat Press? In this three-part blog post, see what past, present, and future staff members have to say about their experiences on the press. Reunite with staff from the past nine years, say goodbye to our seniors, and meet the newest faces of BatCat Press.
BatCat’s staff is constantly changing. What originated as six students with an idea has evolved into an opportunity to grant ten or more students a year with a job on the only high school literary press in the nation.
With BatCat having over fifty different staff members in the last decade, it’s easy to lose track of all the names and faces. However, each student remembers their time on staff, often with it being a highlight of their high school career. For some, it even is a stepping stone to skills and involvement in the literary community.
Alyx Evans (2011-2014) explains, “There are so many great aspects that one learns from being active on BatCat – teamwork, leadership, dedication, and patience, to name just a few.”
Since graduation, Alyx has earned a degree in communication with a concentration in public relation and a minor in advertising from Robert Morris University. She is earning her master’s in organizational leadership. Though most of her writing is in a professional context now, she has been published in Rune, RMU’s literary journal.
Alyx isn’t the only alumnus still involved in the literary community. Robin Turici (2011-2012) is an assistant editor at Baker Publishing Group and has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing.
Robin even credits BatCat for some of her interest in the field. She says, “The experience of sifting through the BatCat submissions showed me that I want to work in acquisitions editing someday, and working closely with the authors we published prepared me to deal with authors in my job.”
Cassandra Lucci (2009-2011) is currently working as an accountant but hasn’t forgotten her BatCat roots. She says, “I do still write for leisure and still have a dream of writing something substantial enough and one day being a published author.”
However, BatCat alumni don’t just walk away with writing and editing experience. Each staff member is trained in the basics of bookbinding, and some, like Nova Fox (2016-2017), haven’t stopped making books. “I’ve been making books and doing some more explorative bindings. [I’ve been] learning a lot of new methods and styles,” she says.
Of course, BatCat has changed quite a bit in the last few years.
Alyx explains, “We went from hand-folding paper in the dark, dank basement of the Midland library to cranking out large quantities of materials at a time with that big clunker of an industrial cutter. I have visited Lincoln Park since I graduated, and I see that now the Literary Arts Department has full-sized rooms dedicated to BatCat – don’t take that for granted. Trust me. That is a luxury.”
Our set up is currently a re-purposed office dedicated to our printing, a store room, and empty classrooms for workspace. We love our new space, but we hope that one day it will be even bigger and better.
However, even though the look of BatCat and its publications have changed, some things stay the same.
In fact, the process when Cassandra was around still holds true today: “The beginning of working a day on press was a little laid back and a bit disorganized. After a bit of learning the flow, it was very productive and a lot of fun. At the time, the press was staffed pretty low, so we all got to know each other well and learned how to work together effectively. After reading through and choosing what work to publish, it was sort of a step-by-step process, as you know. Print, cut, fold, glue, etc.”
And, of course, we still listen to a lot of music! In the beginning of BatCat, the Glee soundtrack could be heard playing. In my time, it has gone from Disney songs to Into the Woods (original Broadway cast, of course) to sing-along playlists. There’s just something about belting along to music that makes our bookbinding assembly lines a highlight of high school.
Perhaps the most important thing that is consistent throughout all of our alumni is how much they loved being on BatCat.
Nova loves that it gave her a project. She says, “It made me enjoy [high school] a lot more. It was nice to be fulfilling a role and helping with a larger project.”
Alyx remembers BatCat as being hard work but with a lot of payoff. She explains, “As much as my classmates and I bickered over the design process, and as sore as my hands were, and as exhausted as my brain was after weeding through all those submissions – I miss it. It was a great experience where great memories were made.”
At the end of the day, no matter when they were on staff or what they did, most BatCat alumni could agree with Cassandra: “Every day was honestly a great memory. We were really working out the kinks, as I mentioned, so there was always something afoot. It was always a lot of fun. I would join BatCat again in a heartbeat… It was incredibly hard and I still wish I could be involved in something as wonderful as BatCat. It was truly an experience I’m grateful to have had.”
-Olivia Smith, Post-Graduate Intern