In a normal year, the staff of The ReMarker student newspaper publishes a stand-alone Focus magazine in November and February. But, in so many ways, this is not a normal year. Following a summer of nationwide protests against racial injustice, the 2020–2021 ReMarker staff delved into this topic for its first Focus magazine, which was published when campus reopened in early September.
“We thought that the social and racial issues facing our country were so important for us as a staff to discuss and explore that we decided to dedicate an entire Focus Magazine to the topic,” said Robert Pou ’21, who serves as the editor of The ReMarker newspaper and is a contributing editor to Focus."
At 44 pages, this issue is by far the largest ever produced. The magazine chronicles the history of racism in America, the recent protests in Dallas and across the country, and reactions and perspectives from the St. Mark’s community.
“The specific issue covered in this magazine — the death of George Floyd and the aftermath of that death — can’t be covered with one ReMarker story. It was clear that we needed to make a magazine,” said Cristian Pereira ’21, Editor-in-Chief of Focus. “The purpose is not to tell the community how to think. It’s to start a discussion on the issues that pertain to this movement.”
The magazine also included an in-depth interview with Lee Smith ’65, the first Black student ever enrolled at St. Mark’s. Arriving at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Mr. Smith was met with a wide range of reactions. As the magazine notes, “Smith has resilience — without it, being the first Black student at an all-white school would have been nearly impossible.” That resilience paid off, as Smith went on to Harvard University and the University of Washington School of Law. Throughout his career, Mr. Smith has been instrumental in expanding higher education opportunities to Black students and has fought to enforce civil rights laws.
“I learned you can’t wear your feelings on your sleeve,” Mr. Smith told Focus. “You don’t let other people define you. If you know what you’re doing, you just cut your own way. They’re going their way, and you’re going yours.”
Reflecting on the numerous stories captured in this issue of Focus, Robert Pou hopes his fellow Marksmen, and the broader community will come away with a deeper understanding of the complex issues affecting the country: "I hope readers come to the realization that it will take all of us working together to solve the problems in front of us.”
Since it was first published five years ago, the Focus magazine has continuously sparked tough but necessary conversations on a wide range of topics, including homelessness, gender identity, and civic responsibility.
“It’s gratifying that our students are so engaged in the world and are able to express their concerns and questions so maturely,” said Ray Westbrook, Gene & Alice Oltrogge Master Teaching Chair and the publications advisor. “It’s also gratifying that the St. Mark’s community has embraced the topics presented and have used the magazine to affect conversations in classroom discussions.”
In addition to producing their largest magazine ever, The ReMarker staff also did so remotely. While this was a massive undertaking, the staff was able to fall back on lessons they learned in the spring, when the final two issues of the student newspaper were published remotely. The publications team began work on this Focus issue over the summer, holding dozens of Zoom meetings, creating a new, unique design from scratch, and managing hundreds of story documents, photographs, and design files.
“If this magazine gets people thinking, even just a little bit more, it will have been worth it,” said Cristian Pereira. “It can be really easy to hear something about an issue and not take time to research further or hear another side. This magazine isn’t here to necessarily change people’s minds, but I hope that people take time to read it, even if they don’t agree with all the perspectives to which we’ve given platforms.”
St. Mark’s School of Texas is a private, nonsectarian college-preparatory boys’ day school for students in grades 1 through 12, located in Dallas, Texas. St. Mark’s aims to prepare young men to assume leadership and responsibility in a competitive and changing world.
St. Mark’s does not discriminate in the administration of its admission and education policies on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.