Reception at Arts Benicia on Sunday for ‘Imagination’
A celebration at Arts Benicia on Sunday will recognize a new magazine of student-produced writing and art that itself was created by a local student, Benicia High School senior Anjuli Peters.
“Since junior year, I wanted to challenge myself with a personal project that would let me utilize my skills in writing, editing, layout design and leadership,” Peters said.
“I wanted to lead, construct, and work on a community service project that was unique to my community and hadn’t been done before.”
Peters has been involved in various facets of journalism since eighth grade, when she edited the Benicia Middle School yearbook.
During her sophomore year, she spent a summer as an intern at The Benicia Herald.
For the past two years, as a junior and senior, she has been the editor-in-chief of Benicia High’s newspaper, “The Paw.”
She said producing “Imagination,” which she did through Arts Benicia, turned out to be a larger endeavor than she first envisioned.
“At the onset, I expected the project to take a couple of months to complete,” Peters said. “However, this project taught me a powerful lesson about the many ‘behind-the-scene’ tasks and planning that a magazine takes.”
Rather than taking about eight weeks, the publication took about a year to finish, in part because of Peters’s own busy schedule.
She said both her junior and senior years were packed with Advanced Placement classes, summer jobs and summer classes at Diablo Valley College.
Her time also was consumed with applying for college admission and financial aid and the associated interviews.
But that didn’t deter her from the tasks of producing the magazine.
“‘Imagination’ is a magazine designed to enhance children’s sense of imagination, creativity, talent, and ability to impact upon their environment,” Peters said in explaining the project.
“How can we expect youth to develop their voice if nobody is listening?”
Peters said she was inspired by the Santa Cruz-based national children’s magazine, “Stone Soup.” She visited that magazine and interviewed its editors, who encouraged her to create her own magazine.
To fill the magazine’s pages, she gathered contributions from students at Robert Semple, Joe Henderson, Mary Farmar and Matthew Turner elementary schools, as well as Benicia Middle School.
Among the 26 whose works are in “Imagination” are children of all ages and backgrounds, she said, including foster children and those whose first language isn’t English.
Choosing the selections that made the cut was another challenge, Peters said.
“I had a wide number entries to choose from, many of which I was unable to include due to the limitations of space.
“I began with modest expectations when I first began,” she said. “However, as I went through each submission, I was blown away by the mature and advanced topics younger students were addressing. It was an uplifting surprise.”
Arts Benicia sponsored the project, said Director Larnie Fox, who also contributed to the magazine and provided advice, connections and oversight.
But Fox said this is Peters’s project.
“The credit for the excellent quality of the magazine belongs totally to Anjuli,” he said. “Anjuli came to us through the work of our amazing Children’s Art Committee, who just produced Next Generation, the show currently up in the gallery, and the appropriate backdrop for her reception.”
He said he was impressed by Peters as the two worked together.
“I would be impressed with anyone who possesses vision, passion and organizational skills like hers no matter what age (they) happen to be, but it’s unusual to find them in someone so young,” he said.
“Arts Benicia is very pleased at the beautiful magazine she has produced, and are happy to have supported her efforts,” Fox said. “What she is doing is very much in line with our mission to ‘stimulate, educate and nurture.’ I very much hope we can work together in the future.”
Peters’s father, Rob Peters, who contributes a regular column to The Herald, is proud of his daughter’s accomplishment, which he described as “a way of giving back to the community and its kids. …The magazine looks really nice, (I) must say.”
Because the magazine is self-funded, only a limited number of copies were produced, Anjuli Peters said. Each participant gets a copy, and she said some copies will be made available throughout the community.
Whether there will be other editions remains to be seen, she said. Right now, she’s focused on her next adventure, entering Pitzer College, a liberal arts school that is one of five Claremont consortium schools east of Los Angeles.
“I’m open to possibilities, and a lot is depending on how much time I have in these next few months before I leave for college,” she said.
The celebration of the publication of “Imagination” is open to the public, and will be attended not only by the children whose submissions appear in the magazine but also their parents and guardians.
The event takes place between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday at Arts Benicia, 991 Tyler St.