Upper Merion High School was not so silent after hours on Thursday, December seventh as students and teachers alike gathered to enjoy art, music, and communal literature at the third installment of UM Reads. Run by the Valhalla Literary Magazine, UM Reads is a celebration of Upper Merion students with a passion for the arts and allows students to submit works to be read and displayed. Members of the Valhalla Magazine have been working hard to edit works and put together a program for the night. Lots of students decided to display their artwork, photography, and writing at the event, and student run musical interludes accompanied them.  

Trinity Pike, who is the leader of both Valhalla and UM Reads, has been helping to run UM Reads for all three years. Trinity is graduating next year and she believes that “This year’s UM Reads was incredible. In the library’s cozy atmosphere, we admired student writing and artwork, ate delicious food, and listened to amazing musical performances.  I will always remember Kyle Fortuna’s glorious tres leches cake (rest in peace you beautiful soul… the cake, not Kyle).” Many students attended UM Reads whether they were presenting pieces or not. Alexis Anderson, a senior, had this to say about her experience watching her brother read, “I really enjoyed going. I wish I had tried it out one of the other times they did it because it was really nice.” Overall UM Reads was an enjoyable experience for everyone that attended.

This year especially was unique as Upper Merion had the privilege of hosting guest speakers for the night. Sara Wilkerson, who is a graduate of Upper Merion and an aspiring student writer, and Tawni Waters, who is a published author, both attended. Both guest speakers shared some exceptional works of poetry and Tawni Waters read an excerpt from her book The Long Ride Home. Waters also sold copies of her book and gave out signatures and advice to the young writers present. Being able to interact with other writers who are striving for the same goals promoted by the event is an important part of the experience. Meeting Tawni Waters and hearing her read was definitely a highlight of the night for many students, and being able to talk to her about succeeding in a writing career was definitely very valuable to the students trying to do the same.

UM Reads is quickly becoming a treasured and well-established Upper Merion tradition that will hopefully be enjoyed by students and teachers for years to come. The opportunity it provides for students to be able to share their work is invaluable. When students are given a safe place to express themselves and share their art, music, and writing with others who appreciate it, it helps our school to thrive and creates a more welcoming and artistic environment.

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