NHS Literary Club Adviser Inspires a Creative Spirit

(Photo courtesy of Noblesville Schools)
Noblesville High School junior Ashlyn Barber watches and listens as a fellow writer reads during Noblesville High School’s Literary Club book-release party and signing at Nickel Plate Arts in downtown Noblesville.

Noblesville High School English teacher Bill Kenley — adviser for the NHS Literary Club — encourages his students to have high aspirations.

The club’s newest release is called “Aspirational Picnic Table” and “is a loose collection” of about 50 young writers and artists who have all contributed to the school’s literary magazine. Most of the students are also participating in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

 A week ago, last Monday night, on March 21, the NHS Literary Club had a book-release party and signing with friends and family and the community invited. The club’s reception originally scheduled in February was postponed due to weather.

“The young artists signed each others’ copies, and we had a few read excerpts from their work published in the magazine,” Kenley said.

“Nickel Plate Arts was gracious enough to host us,” he said of the venue in downtown Noblesville.

The club paid for publishing the magazine thanks to the Noblesville Schools Education Foundation (NSEF), which gave the club a grant to publish a hundred (copies) of the magazine “full of student writing and art.”

How was the event? “Went great,” he said.

“The young artists signed each others’ copies and we had a few read excerpts from their work published in the magazine.”

The magazine features the published work of about 45 students. “They all share a creative spirit and a love of fiction, poetry, art and other essential things,” Kenley said.

Books will be for sale at Nickel Plate until sold out.

Kenley loves being an adviser for the club. “I truly enjoy being around these students. They are a source of much good energy. I encourage them by taking them seriously. That means reading and rereading their work until they think it’s the way they want it. I also encourage them by providing a place for them to meet and plan and talk at school.”

The club began many years ago but then went into a little hiatus, he said. “The students in charge now had great vision and were committed to having a physical book and they got it done.”

Kenley, a NHS English teacher of more than 20 years and who was twice voted the most influential and inspiring teacher in his high school, believes he knows what makes a young adult audience tick. The author of “High School Runner: Freshman,” he writes a “fictional love letter to high-school cross-country.” Kenley is head cross country and track distance coach, also having been a three-time Boston marathoner with a 2:47 marathon personal best and has a 50-miler under his belt.

The teacher is known for supporting students in any way needed. A 1989 NHS graduate, Kenley is also co-founder of the Polk Street Review, an annual book featuring art and readings about Noblesville, and has served on the Keep Noblesville Beautiful board.

Kenley said, “Writing fiction for me is a lot like exercising. I sometimes neglect it as a non-essential part of my life – something I’ll do if I have time. But then when I get down to actually doing it, I remember that it’s actually very important to my mental well-being. To be able to obsess about a character making choices in an imaginary world may seem nutty, but it feels a lot better than obsessing about real things you can’t control in a real but chaotic world sometimes.”]

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