, Newburyport, MA

August 19, 2013

Schools' literary journal faces end of run

Staff hopes to find new benefactor to fund it

By Greg Phipps

---- — NEWBURYPORT – As longtime editor of the Newburyport Schools’ annual educators’ journal, Impressions, retired middle school Language Arts teacher Christopher Dollas ends this year’s “From the Editor” prologue by with a warning -- this may be the last issue for the literary magazine, unless new funding is secured.

Dollas said he’s still trying to find ways to keep the journal operating but, at present, the prospects are not good. The literary magazine is marking its 25th year.

“We want to find a way to keep it funded. I’d like to continue to put out a hard copy every year,” he said. “I like the idea of it getting into the hands of readers in the community so they can pass it on to others. We’re looking for any benefactors who may be willing to step forward.”

The publication, which made its first appearance in the spring of 1987, was founded by superintendent Francis T. Bresnahan, who passed away in 1993. Dollas said it was Bresnahan who proposed to have a publication showcasing the literary works of educators in the Newburyport Public Schools.

“He had a tremendous appreciation for writing and I know he was pleased to see his idea become a reality,” Dollas said. “I know he would also be thrilled to see that it made its 25th anniversary.”

After being informed two years ago by longtime benefactor, the Swasey Fund -- which had allocated $5,000 a year to cover the journal’s publishing costs -- that it would no longer be able to fund the project after 2012, Dollas said he felt compelled to make certain Impressions would survive to see its 25th birthday.

“We just put out an online copy of last year’s journal to cut down on expenses. We deferred and carried over the remaining money from 2012 for this year’s (hard copy) issue,” Dollas said. “I at least wanted to get to that 25 year mark. It’s a milestone that stands out.”

This year’s copy contains one new writing piece plus a number of introspective, critical and reflective writing pieces from past editions. Also included are various artwork, poetry, fiction, and photography published over the years. The front covers from the previous 24 editions are included in the book, as well.

Bresnahan is honored in the opening piece entitled “My Dad,” written by his daughter, Ellen Bresnahan Sullivan. That is followed by Bresnahan’s own perspective article “How We Taught the Constitution to the Junior Class,” which appeared in the inaugural edition and focused on helping students understand the Constitution and putting its principles into practice.

Dollas said the journal has experienced much creative and contributive growth since it began.

“The first copy contained just writing but we started to include photos, art and other material in the second issue, and we’ve continued to expand in that direction,” he said. “There have been well over 400 contributions of work and over 125 contributors to the journal. And the contributions have come from all areas of the school staff, not just the faculty and administration. The involvement has been all-encompassing, which has made it even more rewarding.”

Having been the journal’s editor for its entire 25-year run, Dollas, 68, who still works as a substitute teacher, has fond memories of how he first became editor.

“When the idea for the journal was first brought up, no one showed much interest in editing it,” he said. “Then I was asked and I said I was definitely interested. I went out and started asking staff to contribute, and over time people have supported the journal with many submissions.”

Dollas acknowledged that if the journal continues to exist only as an online publication, he will not remain in his editorial role.

“I feel strongly about maintaining a hard copy and not just making it a cyberspace journal,” he said.