Honors Sophomore Literature and Composition teacher. Freshman baseball coach. Jesuit alum (ew). Moderator of CB’s very own Literary Arts Journal. I didn’t say his name, but I didn’t need to. Mr. OJ Solander is well-known across campus for his many important roles within the CB community. While students like Caleb Symkowick-Rose (‘25) sing his praises, describing […]
Honors Sophomore Literature and Composition teacher. Freshman baseball coach. Jesuit alum (ew). Moderator of CB’s very own Literary Arts Journal. I didn’t say his name, but I didn’t need to. Mr. OJ Solander is well-known across campus for his many important roles within the CB community.
While students like Caleb Symkowick-Rose (‘25) sing his praises, describing him as “a rather jolly chap,” I wanted to go straight to the source to answer my questions. I sat down with Mr. Solander on March 31, 2023 for
an interrogation a civil discussion, hoping to learn a bit more about one of my favorite teachers.
In addition to confiding that working with students is “better than working with normal people,” Mr. Solander told me about his life before CB, how he started out in journalism before going into teaching adult education and then junior high, and ultimately starting out as a substitute teacher here at CB. Or, as he summarized it, “journalism to teaching, to other teaching, to other teaching, to other teaching.”
After that, we moved onto the most important part of his job here on our illustrious campus: moderating CB’s very own Literary Arts Journal. Having been revived this year by myself and Andrew Arias (‘25) — with help from Mr. Solander, of course — the Literary Arts Journal is quickly gaining recognition. After all, there are flyers everywhere. In the words of Weather Cretu (‘25), “anywhere there’s a wall, there’s probably a poster for the Literary Arts Journal.”
But what is the Literary Arts Journal, aside from what Caleb believes to be “the best publication on campus,” (and, in Mr. Solander’s words, “not a pyramid scheme”)? It was originally started decades ago, and has been moderated by multiple teachers throughout its lifetime, including Ms. Chrys Cassetta and Mrs. Natalia Schorn ‘00, before all but disappearing on campus with the pandemic.
This year, however, upon hearing about the journal from Mr. Solander and Mrs. Schorn, Andrew and I decided to bring it back. While the Literary Arts Journal is officially a club, there aren’t any in-person meetings. Instead, members communicate through Schoology discussions with writing prompts, while admins coordinate details regarding the publication itself along with Mr. Solander. And while there is unlikely to be a published journal this year, we hope to have collected enough submissions in order to fully revive it next year.
And that’s where you come in. The Literary Arts Journal can’t exist without your submissions (unless you’re Caleb, in which case you do not need to submit anything else. Please). In all of its forms, CB’s Literary Arts Journal has always been a vessel for student self-expression. So take advantage! In Andrew’s words, the Literary Arts Journal exists “so that [students’] voices and stories can be heard.”
But don’t take it from us. Take it from Mr. Solander himself (since I promised to say something nice about him). Or rather, from Mr. Solander quoting his favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut: “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
And if I’ve succeeded in piquing your interest, consider joining the Schoology group or submitting your work, either with one of the attached links or a QR code from one of the many fliers across campus (you can’t miss them– they’re everywhere).