One of the most special things about BatCat Press is the fact that it’s the only known high school run literary press in the country, which means our staff of ten is made up entirely of high school students from the Writing & Publishing Department at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School. But students graduate, as is the natural course of things, so what happens to BatCat at the end of the school year, and those who must move on from it?
Every year BatCat loses members and gains a few through students who apply and get accepted by our managing editor, Mrs. Baringer. These students bring a new perspective to BatCat, which is why we often encourage submitters to resubmit the following year if they don’t get chosen because there are always new eyes on the work.
All students take something they learned from high school into their lives afterward, whether it’s something they learned in class, socializing or self-discovery. As a small business, BatCat teaches professionalism and entrepreneurial skills that couldn’t be taught in any other way. Sarah Bett, graduating class of 2018, learned a lot about talking with professionals and building a working organization. “BatCat definitely helped me build my social and business skills,” she said. “I think the experience, on the whole, has helped me to understand compromise, professionalism, and the workplace better.”
I just graduated myself, and I’ve also benefited from the business aspect of BatCat. My experience writing blogs and social media posts got me interested in marketing and advertising, and it helped establish the direction I want to go into after school – helping businesses grow through advertising and networking.
BatCat is many things besides a business. It’s also, in many ways, like a club, where students make friends, collaborate, and work together to reach goals. We learn new skills and teach them to new members as time goes on. We make decisions together. We make our products together. BatCat often feels like a job, but it’s nothing like working for a company; rather, it’s like a family business.
Not all seniors are through with BatCat after graduation. The past few years several graduated seniors have had the opportunity to become the BatCat graduate intern, a paid position that consists of screening submissions for inappropriate content, often writing blog posts and generally staying in touch with BatCat Press. This past year’s intern Olivia Smith, graduating class of 2018, also started her own small business, Paper Trail Handmade Goods, where she sells handmade books and paper goods. Over the summer and throughout the school year she’d been screening, helping with the process, and working on blog posts, all while keeping up with her studies at Emerson College in Boston.
This year, six students – over half of the staff – have graduated. Students who graduate as members of BatCat have a unique set of skills and experiences, but that’s not all we get. We also leave with one of the coolest stories to tell. I, for one, can’t wait for my college dorm roommates to ask about the beautiful handmade books on my shelf or the clever logo sticker on my laptop. I can tell them about the amazing group of high school students and their teacher out in Midland, Pennsylvania, and the work they’re doing.
-Alexa Bocek, 2019-2020 BatCat Press Intern