Pen is mighty
Hoboken High School’s literary magazine earns nationwide ranking
by Amanda Palasciano
Reporter staff writer
Feb 03, 2013 | 6894 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WORK OF ART – Hoboken High School’s literary magazine was ranked “excellent.”
WORK OF ART – Hoboken High School’s literary magazine was ranked “excellent.”

Hoboken High School was put on the literary map this year under the tutelage of Sharon Malenda, who teaches senior English, as well as Media, Literacy & Journalism, and Creative Writing. A contest sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) recognizes students, teachers, and schools for producing excellent literary magazines.

Last September, Hoboken High School entered “Create,” which is a collaborative effort of art, poetry, and prose by juniors and seniors. A total of 417 schools entered the contest nationwide, but only 227 schools scored high enough to receive a ranking. Rankings include above average, excellent, and superior. HHS received a rank of “excellent.” Only 22 schools in New Jersey ranked higher than HHS with a ranking of “superior,” and these were predominantly large regional and private schools.

“That’s like a division III football team against a division I,” said Malenda.

Get inspired

Malenda has taught for 12 years, five of them in Hoboken. Malenda got her undergrad degree in English and went briefly into the business world, not yet knowing that teaching was her calling.

“I would watch the clock and time would go backwards,” said Malenda about working in business.

Before long, Malenda went to grad school in Boston to pursue teaching. Today, she loves her job.

“Because I’ve actually lived it, between poet’s cafes and spoken word and the blogging world, I’m not just a talking head to these kids,” Malenda said. “I teach them how to integrate art and words. I’d like to incorporate graphic design into journalism as well.”

Stories for the magazine were selected throughout the school year from the best assignments handed in during creative writing class. In April, she narrowed them down.
“I teach them how to integrate art and words.”– Sharon Malenda
Malenda tried to incorporate at least one entry from every student. The seniors who contributed to the award-winning issue have now graduated. Malenda said some of them are breaking her heart because they’re not further pursuing their writing talents.

An excerpt

Senior Barbara Schafer’s piece, “Shoe Shine,” tells a tale through the eyes of a shoe shiner.

Schafer wrote: “I sit here daily, shining shoes for a mere $5 and watch as they rush to work with such brevity, muttering ‘hi’s,’ ‘hello’s’ and ‘how are you’s,’ then hearing the responses of laconic expressions, simple ‘Fine. Thank you’s,’ ‘good and you’s?’ These are the empty words, just for the sake of conversation. Just for the sake of politeness, just for the sake of business.”

Schafer closes the short piece with, “I scoff at the stench of the American business man, their strong scented elixirs, their $12 glasses of beer, their multiple sex partners, the partially mentally impaired women, the silicone filled breasts they rub about themselves, the fabricated lives and religions they seem to pursue—it all disgusts me.”

Other contributing juniors last year who will likely contribute this year are: Kailah Gonzalez, Abrianna Irizarry, Justin Anderson, Barbara Schaefer, Hector Melendez, Kristin Davids, Eileen Mendez, Aaliyah Mercado, Simone Worley, and Jalin Miles.

If you would like to purchase a copy of this nationally recognized magazine, please contact Sharon Malenda at The cost is $5 and the money is being toward the production of the upcoming year’s magazine.

Amanda Palasciano may be reached at

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