SHERIDAN — Now available for free around town, the third edition of The Batch magazine features student artists from Sheridan County, with a wide variety of written and visual arts in different styles and media.
This time, the magazine features 24 artists, all from Sheridan High School, and some of the artists and photographers have multiple submissions that were chosen.
The 300 copies are available for free in coffee shops and other local businesses, and magazine founder Chase McFadden said Sheridan Stationery, Books and Gallery in particular has been a hub for the publication.
McFadden taught at Sheridan High School in the late 1990s and early 2000s and at Big Horn Middle School for six years. In the gaps between teaching positions, he’s a screenwriter.
He had the idea for the publication after seeing some of the quality of writing that students would submit in his courses.
“As a teacher I’d read pieces by students that I was just absolutely blown away by and I was thinking that myself and maybe their families are the only people that may ever read these things.”
He decided to work on the magazine to feature work that tends to go unrecognized in the hopes of encouraging students to continue developing their talents.
“It’s a pretty special feeling I think to have something out there with their name on it, and the potential of others reading your words can be a powerful motivator, too,” McFadden said.
After having an abstract sketch piece and a nature painting, the cover art this year is a photography submission by SHS senior Lindsey Hall featuring a familiar main street scene flipped upside down. The piece was part of a project for her current photography class where she used a photography ball lent to her by Ashley Cooper, her photography teacher at SHS.
Hall first heard about the magazine from her freshman English teacher, and the next year she submitted a poem she had written in a few minutes from a prompt in class, and the piece was accepted.
“Honestly, I got the email for it, and it was like, ‘we actually loved it, we want to put it in, can we have your permission?’ And I was just like, I’m gonna have a poem in a magazine?” Hall said. “And this year it was, you want my photo on the cover? So it’s just a little bit surreal. You make all this stuff as an assignment and you don’t really think of it, and then you can actually publish it, and people can actually read it more than your teacher and your classmates.”
She also took her first photography class and got her first camera during her sophomore year and had photographs from the class accepted that year.
Hall said she has also really enjoyed getting the physical copy and seeing the other students’ works, which in turn inspire her for later projects.
The first edition of The Batch was published in the spring of 2017. The Homer A. and Mildred S. Scott Foundation handles the finances for printing, and AlphaGraphics designs the layouts. This year, a few of the students have stepped up to take on distribution, according to McFadden.
The written work in the magazine has tended toward poetry, which McFadden thinks is simply because not a lot of fiction writing happens in schools, although he would love to see the content expand to include more fiction and nonfiction works.
Submitted pieces are judged by community members rather than teachers for an outside, objective view of the work.
McFadden said a number of past contributors are studying art or photography in college, but the writers are harder to keep tabs on, since many people write mostly for themselves, and breaking into the field at all can be difficult.
Sheridan High School graduate Trinity Preston, now a junior at the University of Wyoming, contributed several drawings to the magazine’s first editions.
“I still have a copy of The Batch that I had because it’s really kind of cool,” Preston said. “It was neat to see people approaching me like, ‘Oh, cool.’ It was really nice to have your work seen by others.”
McFadden is currently living and teaching in Lander, where he has launched another edition of The Batch, and he hopes to expand the mission across the state.
“It’s been terrific that Jenny (Craft) and the Scott Foundation have given so much support now that I’m gone, because I really don’t want this thing to fold up,” McFadden said.