This week, the English Honor Society presents the 19th Annual Hepcat, a virtual showcase of student poetry, musical performance and artwork. The much-anticipated, annual event was founded in 2002 by English teachers Sarah McMane and Michael Matulac, as a forum for TZHS student poets and singer-songwriters to share their work. Initially run by a small group of students, Hepcat became an English Honor Society (EHS) production in 2004. Since then, the event has grown to include more than 30 performers and dozens of backstage crew members.
“When I realized that we would not be able to have Hepcat this year in person, I reached out to the English Honor Society officers to see if they’d like to do something virtual,” explains McMane. “Hepcat has always provided a voice for students, and this has been a time when students really need an outlet for those feelings and thoughts to be heard. I’ve been so impressed by their ability to rise to the occasion, and I’m so proud of all the hard work they did. The result is pure Hepcat: humorous and poignant and fun and artistic.”
This is the third year that EHS Vice President Laura Pollock, a senior, has participated in Hepcat and she believes its purpose is as powerful as ever. “Hepcat is a safe haven for students to share their creativity and love for the arts. Even though we couldn’t have a live show this year, we wanted to create that unity during this difficult time,” she says. “We have so many wonderful submissions from students and teachers and I cannot thank the administration, EHS Officers and Ms McMane enough for making this happen. It’s the perfect and most bittersweet way to send off the school year.”
EHS President Juliana Guarracino, also a senior, was first introduced to Hepcat as a junior officer, by pitching in to help seniors prepare for the event. She counts the time spent planning and presenting at Hepcat as one of her favorite high school memories. “Hepcat is such a non-judgmental space and everyone there truly just wants to uplift their fellow writers and artists, as well as share their passion for creative writing. I am so grateful that TZ has an opportunity like this for the many talented students who participated in Hepcat in the past and those who have joined this year,” notes Guarracino. “I have always loved creative writing, so having a place to share my work and share my appreciation for writing with my friends has been very rewarding. Being able to present my creative work and be so open in front of my peers has made me much more confident in my writing and helped me grow overall as a writer. Now more than ever, having a place to share your thoughts and feelings through writing and find comfort in the works of other students is so important.”
Pollock plans to study audiology at the University of Toronto and Guarracino will major in international relations at New York University. “Hepcat, and the entire English Department at TZ, has helped me so much throughout my high school career to find my voice in writing and improve each year,” Guarracino adds. “Although my career is not directly related to English, nor creative writing, I do hope to become a published author in the future. I know I will have Hepcat and the teachers at TZ to thank for empowering me with the confidence to do that.”
“I am so impressed, not only by the talent on display but also by the drive of our officers who did not let the obstacle of not being in the building prevent them from producing this year’s edition of Hepcat,” says Principal Rudy Arietta. “I thank the officers and Ms. McMane for their leadership on this great accomplishment.”
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