After years as a graphic designer, Rachel Switall set aside her
career and decided to stay home with her children. But when they
started school in Chicago, she began trying to figure out how to
combine her love of parenting with her desire to design again.
The result: StudentsXpress, a magazine of writing and artwork by
Chicago Public School students that just hit the street this
Ten schools participated in the inaugural edition of the
magazine, which is printed on newsprint and is slightly larger than
a traditional magazine. Five of the schools are from the north side
and five from the south side, but Switall says that in spite of the
differences in neighborhoods, the kids have a lot in common.
"I didn't put school names (with the author's name) and if you
read it, you wouldn't know which school they're from," Switall
says. "They're really going to be surprised how similar they
Each issue will have a topic; the first issue's theme was "what
makes you special." The second issue will highlight courage.
"It's just to get them motivated to write or draw something.
It's poems and short essays, one-liners," Switall says. "One has
turned in an essay about her mom having a baby; another girl was
going to her uncle's funeral. It's a nice variety."
The magazine is funded completely through advertising. Switall
hopes to have even more advertisers and student work featured in
"If this could just be a free publication that's out in the
community for everyone to read, that would be ideal for me," she
Student author Sophia Mastroianni of Nettelhorst would probably
"When I saw the finished magazine with my work in it, I felt
like I had accomplished something great," she says. "I have never
seen my work published, so I also felt pleasure blooming inside me.
I was very excited and it made me motivated to write more!"
For more information, visit studentsxpress.com or
email Switall at [email protected].
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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