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amaranth 40: A Look Back
by Judith Beerman O’Hanlon, Upper School English

In 1982, when we inaugurated a new Upper School magazine of literature and the arts, our goal (as it had been with an earlier school publication, Mayic, which came out in the late 1970s) was to provide a forum for the creative spirit and talent of Brentwood students. Forty years later, amaranth still reflects our desire to celebrate those gifts. We started out very simply, typing on typewriters, literally cutting and pasting, hand-applying borders on all black and white pages, and driving down to the press at The Printing Plant in Culver City.  Now, of course, the layout is done on the computer, making it possible to have a much more sophisticated look, to scan large artwork or photos and to reproduce work in color.  We have instituted a now long-standing tradition of co-sponsoring, with our school library, the Banned Books Reading in the fall and the Poetry Reading in honor of National Poetry Month every spring as well as the Six-Word Story Contest and the Short Story Contest--both of whose winners are featured in our issues. These are all ways of bringing attention to the beauty of language and the importance of the freedom of artistic expression. 

It is an honor and a delight to work each year with a talented staff of dedicated students who share these goals and who, in addition to our meetings during activity period, also spend many hours of their own time choosing work and putting together the layout. Seniors Annabelle F. and Julia F. served as staffers in 9th Grade and then, for the past three years, as Editors-in-Chief. My faculty co-sponsor, Timothy Haehn, and I have been inspired by and grateful for their remarkable leadership, enthusiasm, and loyalty. 

Annie and Julia write about their experience: “Following the last two years of online learning and physical distancing, the 2021-2022 academic year has been a time of rediscovering togetherness in a post-pandemic world. The artistic and literary voices of the Brentwood student body helped lead the community through the many challenges and celebrations of the year, from the anxious uncertainty of returning to classrooms to the excitement of in-person student life events. The works featured in this year’s issue of amaranth showcase the innate creativity, authenticity, and individualism of the Brentwood students, who have not only endured, but have also flourished amidst a non-traditional high school experience. Further, this edition of amaranth commemorates forty years of student passion as recorded each year through the publication….We are extremely thankful for the amaranth staff, the larger Brentwood community, and especially for our wonderful faculty advisors, Judith O’Hanlon and Timothy Haehn, for their continued loyalty and assistance to the publication and to championing the writers and artists of Brentwood School. With this special issue of amaranth, we hope to honor Judith O’Hanlon’s dedication and steadfast support not only to this publication, which she began, but to all her students throughout her Brentwood career. We will miss her ongoing guidance and complete devotion to us as students and artists.”

Over the years, all the past staffers and editors-in-chief, faculty co-sponsors, the Art Department, Office of Communications, and Heads of School Charles Downes, Hunter Temple, Michael Pratt and Michael Riera have supported and encouraged our vision. The 40th anniversary issue contains a special section, “A Look Back,” which focuses on our magazine’s history and legacy and contains a sampling of past work as well as comments from editors-in-chief and some Brentwood alums who have gone on to have noted careers in the arts. 

We have come a long way in many respects, but the spirit of the magazine, embodied in the title we chose long ago, referring to a mythical flower that never fades or dies, remains strong. I hope you will join us in commemorating and celebrating this significant anniversary!

Note: Copies of the magazine will be available in the school library starting Tuesday, May 24, 2022! 

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