Club Q&A: Calliope and Design Gives Back


Fatimah Khan

The student-designed cover of Calliope, Ma- maroneck High School’s literary magazine.

Penelope Hall, Features Page Editor

As MHS begins another busy school year, the Globe asked Sydney Ruthazer (‘24), President of Design Gives Back, and Ashleigh Elden (‘22), Co-president of Calliope, about their clubs to learn what they have in store for this school year. While Calliope has been a creative writing club for years, Design Gives Back was founded much more recently in 2020. These two clubs are eager to grow and expand their clubs this school year. Both clubs were represented at the club fair on October 13, and they are excited to welcome new members of different interests and backgrounds to their respective groups.

Q. Give us some background on Calliope, what are the goals of the club and its members?
Ashleigh: Calliope produces the school’s literary magazine, which is entirely composed of writing and artwork by students. We generally produce two issues of the magazine per year. The club’s goal is to provide an outlet for student creativity, as well as a collaborative environment for students to discuss and improve their writing. During meetings, we read submissions, then give praise and suggestions as a group.

Q. What was the inspiration for Design Gives Back, and what will members be doing this year?
Sydney: The goal of Design Gives Back is to raise money for the mentally ill while helping the community and pushing the group members to be their most creative! For example, we will be holding a MHS thrift shop this fall during lunch periods to raise money.

Q. How did COVID-19 impact Calliope last year, and what were some of the adjustments that had to be made?
Ashleigh: Normally, we meet once a week for lunch and gather in a classroom. Obviously, it wasn’t possible to do this while safely following COVID regulations, so last year we resorted to Zoom meetings on Focus Fridays. Though in-person club meetings are preferable, it was relatively easy for us to adjust. The real difficulty was trying to get submissions of writing and artwork. We had a handful of people already devoted to the club who were more than willing to submit, but we typically want a wide variety of student works in the magazine. It was very hard to spread the word about Calliope when everything was online and social interaction was so different. We ended up producing only one issue of Calliope last year, as opposed to our usual winter and spring issues.

Q. What problems arose last year, in starting your own club during an unprecedented school year when many clubs were forced to meet virtually?
Sydney: There were a lot less meetings than I would have liked and they were all virtual. We should be starting to have more in-person meetings now.

Q. How did you get involved in Calliope?
Ashleigh: I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life, and I’ve always enjoyed being a part of groups that celebrated creative writing. In middle school, I was an editor for the Hommocks Writer. During freshman year, I saw Calliope at the club fair and immediately knew this was my chance to continue pursuing my passion within a network of writers!

Q. What was the most rewarding part of starting your own club, and what are some of the challenges you faced?
Sydney: I would say the hardest thing about starting the club and almost anything is just getting the idea out there and turning the idea into reality. A lot of people have amazing ideas that would be life changing but either never follow through or are too afraid to fail. So to me, the most rewarding part of starting the club was the fact that it actually is a club and has the ability to change lives and make a real difference. I’m excited to see where it can go.

Q. What’s your favorite part of Calliope?
Ashleigh: My favorite part of Calliope is, quite simply, the ability to share the love of writing with an understanding group of people. Although the idea of collaborative editing and submitting pieces to be appraised by a group can be quite scary, everyone in Calliope writes. Everyone is thoughtful, knows how you feel, and wants to help you improve.

Q. What does the future look like for Design Gives Back?
Sydney: I think we have really a bright future in front of us as long as we all stay on top of what needs to get done and keep the passion for helping the community. I am hoping to get the bulb represented in the club fair. The more members the better!