Kindergarten Turns One!

Nearly 200 posts, 12 issues, and one year later, here we are at the first anniversary of Kindergarten Mag! In order to commemorate this moment, editors Tracy and Kleigh asked contributors questions about their time at Kindergarten and their experiences in the past year. Celebrate with us as we reminisce about Kindergarten’s growth and look forward to the future.

Kindergarten Mag: Kindergarten turns one year old this month! When did you first start contributing for Kindergarten?

Molly Zofia: I think it was March!

Francesca Bernardino: My first article came out on December 19, 2020!

Athena Rajnai: almost exactly a year ago! my first poem was published on Dec 29th, I believe!

Ash Fuentes: Dec 2020

Brigita Przybylski: June 2021

Jacquelyn Rodriguez: October 2021

Bianca Bucu: I started contributing around September of this year.

Cait Thomson: first issue i think?

Natasha Kalsi: I first started contributing for Kindergarten in March 2021.

Vlada Stark: December 28th 2020

Lianelys Cabrera: May 2021

Isabel Cruz: Last December (1 year ago!)

KG: So, about a year ago is when Kindergarten first started up. Do you remember what you were doing around this time last year?

Molly: This time last year I felt very lost creatively, so it’s nice to know that in the span of 12 months I have connected with so many amazing creatives through Kindergarten. I’m really thankful for the opportunity ❤

Francesca: This time last year, I was doing exactly what I’m doing now- getting ready for finals and spending winter break at home.

Athena: I was in quarantine in my childhood home in Pennsylvania. It was a pretty rough time, but I tried to spend the time I wasn’t doing Zoom school with writing poems and songs, and making artwork and jewelry to sell online!

Ash: I believe I had just found out about Tracy and Kleigh’s plans to launch an online magazine when they asked if I wanted to be a contributor. MAYBE. I actually have no idea when this occurred. The end of November and beginning of December always just blends together in my head. I was probably just starting to watch the Christmas movies I mentioned in my very first article.

Brigita: I was completing the fall semester of my junior year of college (and watching the last season of The Mentalist).

Jacquelyn: A year ago, I was just finishing my first semester of college. I remember being incredibly bored since we had gone back online just a few weeks before. Aside from working, I felt like I had absolutely nothing to do! I did try out some painting and jewelry-making hobbies, but neither of those really stuck.

Bianca: Last year, I wasn’t doing anything creative around December. I wasn’t a contributor yet for Kindergarten Mag, but I enjoyed reading the articles during my spare time. I was mostly stressed about transferring from community college to an accredited university.

Cait: feeling a bit lost about writing and without a community

Natasha: This time last year I was watching a lot of Christmas films, reading Harry Potter, and wrapping gifts. Basically all things festive!

Vlada: Reflection, for the most part. Turning back time to see how I’ve grown, not just this year, but all the previous years of my life. Reminiscing what I was looking forward to, and feeling the bittersweet sting of another year gone by.

Lianelys: Around this time last year, I was probably pulling all-nighters to study for finals, spending quality time with family/friends and cooking a lot of food.

Isabel: Nothing too different than what I’m doing right now, actually. Back at home with family for a few weeks, sleeping in, taking on the longest books on my TBR list, getting coffee with high school friends, and doing lots of contemplative thinking in my bedroom.

KG: Is there anything that has changed since you first started contributing?

Molly: I gained confidence in myself knowing that other people liked my work. I used to find it difficult to share my work with other people.

Francesca: I was a freshman in college when I started writing for Kindergarten, and I’m now wrapping up the first half of my sophomore year. I think I’ve learned so much about myself between then and now just from experience.

Athena: The music I was busy writing last year is in the process of being recorded for a soon to be EP! I have also been back at in person music school, and have a recital planned for this coming spring as well as an opera performance.

Ash: I’m definitely a more confident writer now. I think it’s a lot easier to just put your writing out there and regular submit pieces when you have no knowledge about how big your audience is so I just don’t think about who is reading my work anymore. I feel more comfortable writing about whatever I’m thinking this way. I also learned a little bit more about making graphics for articles because when I first started contributing I never really made my own. I’m proud of myself for this because even if my graphic design skills are really amateur, at least I’m capable of doing a tiny amount by myself. Since last December, I’ve also been able to make more friends because of the magazine and I feel more connected to people in general now so it’s been great! I’ve met so many interesting people in the past year.

Brigita: I just graduated from college!

Jacquelyn: Joining Kindergarten gave me the courage to pursue my interests, writing being one of them. Since then, I have joined the From the Brush Arts and Literary Journal as an associate literary genre editor. Aside from writing, I decided to pursue extracurriculars in areas I enjoy. Along with continuing my role as an advocate at the Care Center, I will be a peer mentor for other psychology students this spring.

Bianca: I started focusing more on writing and making art. I haven’t been posting much of my digital art, and Kindergarten Mag gave me a platform to share that. It also gave me the confidence to share my own personal essays, and projects I’ve been working on.

Cait: i’ve made so many amazing friends in the instagram writing community, i’ve found the confidence to submit and be accepted to several publications and just feeling overall much more accomplished as a writer ❤

Natasha: Since I first started contributing, I have opened my own small business on Etsy, I have been published nine times (two were in print), my Instagram page reached 1000 followers, and I was able to pay off my credit card completely.

Vlada: I’ve definitely gained a lot more confidence thanks to Kindergarten. I dropped my pen name “Lyra” and began using my true name for my writing. I was published in a university literary journal for the first time and even established my own arts and literary journal for my college.

Lianelys: Since I first started contributing, something that has changed for sure is how confident I am with my writing. I used to overthink every line I wrote (and I still do sometimes), but now I let the inspiration guide me, rather than the fear of being judged.

Isabel: Since then, most of my accomplishments have been internal. I have spent a lot of time focusing on things outside of myself, mainly school, work, and tending to family, but in a way this lack of time I’ve had to myself has made me realize what I value most: things like reading, art, and sitting on the couch watching TV with friends.

KG: We’ve all worked on a variety of things for Kindergarten this year, what was your favorite thing you’ve done for Kindergarten thus far?

Molly: I really enjoyed working on the print version of the Heatwave issue. Seeing everyone’s work in print was so lovely.

Francesca: My favorite thing I’ve written for Kindergarten was my article titled “An Ode to My Very Asian Teenage Years.” Spending so much time applying to endless scholarships and programs and internships made writing about my identity feel exhausting and redundant- but writing about it for Kindergarten felt refreshing and it made me feel excited to write more about myself without feeling like there was a board of admissions or potential sponsors to impress.

Athena: My favorite thing was my submission for ‘Tradition’. Those poems were created with a lot of heart and raw feeling. An old friend of mine from high school read them and decided to use them for a musical composition project for college. All in all, I felt super grateful to be able to put those poems out there and have people resonate with them.

Ash: Probably my essay, “Stigma” because even though I felt like it wasn’t my /best/ piece of writing, that was the most feedback I had ever gotten about one of my works before. I remember seeing people repost it onto their stories when they never posted my pieces or didn’t really post about Kindergarten before. I was genuinely, genuinely so shocked that people liked it that much, but it’s always relieving to feel reassurance that your writing is reaching /somebody/. I’m also in love with the graphic that Kleigh made for it. Maybe it’s the fact that I can see my name on a diploma like that but I just think the idea fit the article so well and when I read the “fine print” it was so clever.

Brigita: My favorite piece of writing I did for Kindergarten Mag this past year was my movie article in the Heat Wave issue titled “Black Widow Wears a Ponytail and it’s a Big Deal.” This article publication meant so much to me because this was my first published article and specifically my first feminist movie article. I love action and superhero movies, but hate the portrayal of female characters and their lack of representation as main characters. Before submitting this article to Kindergarten, I wrote other feminist superhero movie pieces that I couldn’t find a place for, and that’s when I found Kindergarten Mag which changed my life.

Jacquelyn: My favorite article I worked on for Kindergarten this year was “Connected Through Melody,” because it allowed me to reconnect with something I had been passionate about years ago. The writing process was very nostalgic, and it allowed me to reflect on how music has made me who I am today.

Bianca: My favorite piece I’ve worked on was “Duwende” because I was able to showcase my childhood experience with Filipino folklore. It was also nice to be able to work with other people collaboratively on Filipino mythology for Halloween. I had found that many others related to my story and my experience.

Cait: hands down the print zine. it was so much fun to be involved in that experience.

Natasha: My favourite thing that I’ve worked on for Kindergarten this year was my poem titled “May 16, 2015” in Issue 6: Good Days. I enjoyed writing this piece and feel like it’s definitely one of my favourite poems I’ve written.

Vlada: Of course, the “Heat Wave” issue. A physical issue is an amazing milestone. My short story from the issue, “Mirage,” is especially special to me. I had won a scholastic gold for the piece back in High School. It was my first step into the world of professionally writing.

Lianelys: The piece that I’ve enjoyed creating the most is definitely “Imposter Affirmations” because it required self-reflection and a lot of vulnerability to recognize that imposter syndrome is more destructive than we think. Sharing this idea and turning it into an embroidery piece was liberating.

Isabel: Probably my essay titled “Here, in Isla Vista” from the June issue, “Unity”. Somehow the circumstances of this piece allowed me to get the closest to the narrative voice I am working towards, and I’m happy feeling like I am heading in the right direction.

KG: As much as we’re writers for Kindergarten, we’re also readers. What is your favorite work that has been published on Kindergarten this past year that wasn’t created by you?

Molly: My favourite pieces were ‘A’ Honor Roll’ by Ian Watson due to its relatability in my own life of trying to find an identity outside of academic achievements. I also loved ‘Crush’ by Greta Unetich, such a beautiful poem and written with such emotion. There are so many stunning works published in Kindergarten and I wish I could mention them all.

Francesca: My favorite work is actually the first thing published on Kindergarten, our co-editor in chiefs Kleigh and Tracy’s introductions of each other. I think it was such a sweet way to get readers to know who’s behind all of this. As a good friend of both Tracy and Kleigh, I just enjoyed reading a conversation between two great people.

Athena: I loved reading all of Greta Unetich’s poems. Greta is a friend of mine from school and an inspiration when it comes to her poetic ability.

Ash: “College Is Just Part Of My Redemption Arc” by Alexandra Pelas. Maybe I’m biased because Alex is one of my best friends, but that’s also a reason why I like that piece so much. Reading a personal essay of hers for the first time was like seeing a different side of her, and yet at the same time I read it and was like this voice is sooooo Alex. It just reads in a way where, as an audience member, I feel like I’m being talked to not talked at. It’s so relatable too and a lot of my Kindergarten favorites have that characteristic so it only makes sense. I remember reading this essay for the first time and wanting to scream because of how every beat was hit. Yay for Alex.

Brigita: My favorite publication on Kindergarten Mag by another contributor is the poem Crush by Greta Unetich in the Spirit issue. This poem is full of so much emotion and feels so powerful. Poetry, especially about love and heartbreak, is where I focus my writing, so I enjoy reading poems surrounding these themes.

Jacquelyn: My favorite work is the “Best of 2020 Scrapbook.” There’s something so special about people sharing their favorite memories with you, and with a cute, scrapbook-y layout, I found myself revisiting this piece again and again.

Bianca: My favorite work that was published on Kindergarten was “Taking Up Space” by Kleigh Balugo. Mainly because I related to the idea of not being able to unapologetically take up space, I lacked the confidence in being able to speak up. I also liked it because it was the Asian American experience of feeling invisible in white spaces.

Cait: anything and everything by Greta, she is a powerhouse!

Natasha: My favourite recent work that has been published on Kindergarten is Jana Marquez’s essay ‘A Tale of Two Area Codes’. I found a connection with Jana’s story as I’ve also had the same Toronto number since 7th grade. Jana’s writing feels so nostalgic to read and the ending of the essay is beautifully written!

Vlada: “Everything” by Ian Watson. I’ve always had a hard time connecting with poetry. I could never truly submerge myself into the author’s emotions. However, when I read Watson’s poem, I experienced everything. From hearing the cicada hums to the burning sensation of the sun’s rays, I genuinely experienced the desert in a surrealist way.

Lianelys: One of my favorite essays published on Kindergarten is “Girls Like Me: Finding a Cure for Yellow Fever” by Kleigh Balugo because it’s a raw and sincere piece of writing. I have no other comments besides my admiration for this essay and the writer ❤

Isabel: “Home is in the Heart” by Kristen Del Pilar for the April issue, “Coming of Age”. It’s actually the only work of Kristen’s published on Kindergarten, but I wish it wasn’t. The essay concisely describes the strange feelings we might have towards our hometowns in a voice that is so mature and sure of itself in its style.

KG: Now that we’ve talked about things we’ve already done, what’s to come? What plans do you have for the upcoming years?

Molly: I hope to create my own chapbook of poetry and publish it once it is done and continue to contribute to Kindergarten, both of which I am very much looking forward to!

Francesca: A goal I have is to contribute to Kindergarten more- I definitely started off strong then got swept up in school and wrote less and less. I want to write more creative pieces and use Kindergarten as an outlet for writing things other than essays and research papers for school. I also hope to start writing more short essays and reviews for music and books!

Athena: I plan on continuing to contribute to Kindergarten for as long as possible! I also plan to graduate next year from Ithaca College with a degree in Voice and Theatre Arts Management. I will hopefully move to a metropolitan area in the US so that I can work in Arts Administration as well as continue making music or performing.

Ash: For Kindergarten, I want to start contributing more fashion pieces, but I also want to make more art not just writing. I have no idea what I’d do, but I want to get better at making graphics, too. Outside of the magazine, I just want to apply to internships, write a novel, sew clothes, and start editing videos again. I have a lot of story ideas that I start and never finish so I just want to finish one completely through just for personal achievement, even if I don’t let anybody read it. I have so many trips where I took videos the entire time and still never edited them. Like… trips from 2017-2018 that are entirely on video pretty much no gaps and I just never bothered to go through the clips. Some people may say what’s the point in trying to edit those now, but it’d also be nice to refresh my memory and look back on those trips in a short video. The editing process would also force me to go through everything again so it could be fun… I guess my plans just involve creating more things to put to my name.

Brigita: In the upcoming years, I want to write more for people to read and enjoy or relate to. And since I just graduated this month, I plan to start my professional career.

Jacquelyn: In the future, I would love to expand my writing to include poetry. In general, I plan on getting involved in research, participating in more peer mentorship opportunities, and finally deciding on a minor.

Bianca: I am currently applying and working on internship applications. I hope to graduate next year and be able to start my career. As for Kindergarten, I hope to be able to still contribute my own personal projects. Kindergarten Mag has given me a creative outlet to write/create for fun outside of work, and I’m extremely thankful for that.

Cait: i would love to publish a chapbook of poetry in 2022 🤞🏻

Natasha: I’m not really the type of person to plan for more than one year in advance. However, things that I definitely want to do and hope to do are contribute monthly to Kindergarten, continue growing my small business, start writing a poetry book, and travel more!

Vlada: I’d like to live more in the present. Enjoying life rather than worrying about the past or future.

Lianelys: I plan to graduate this Spring semester and then continue to graduate school. Regardless of what I end up doing with school, I plan on continuing to contribute to kindergarten.

Isabel: Well, on the more boring end, I hope to somehow pull off graduating within four years, and continue towards financial independence. I also have dreams of becoming a more consistent writer (maybe create a collection of essays or write a novel) and an even crazier dream of moving to NYC, although admittedly, I’ve never been.

KG: We do so much for Kindergarten, but it’s all for our readers. What do you have to say to all the Kindergarten readers out there?

Molly: Thank you for reading, sharing, and listening!

Francesca: Thanks so much for being here! It’s great to know that someone’s out there reading what we put out. I can’t wait for you to see what we do this year!

Athena: Stick around! Everyone here at Kindergarten works super hard to put their best work out there, whether it’s poetry, articles, reviews, or anything in between. It means the world to us that you read our work, or have started to read our work, so thank you! ❤ We love you!

Ash: I would like to thank each and every reader wholeheartedly. Even if you don’t read my work but are keeping up with others, your support is deeply appreciated. Yes, being a writer is difficult when you are brainstorming and face writers block and you have to be the one to put your work out there for everyone to see and you need to work with editors and you have to advertise,,,, but being a reader is just as important!! Without you, the writers would just be making long finsta posts or something. ❤

Brigita: Thank you so much for reading my writing and the writing of other Kindergarten Mag contributors. Your support means the world and I write not just for myself but for others like you to read.

Jacquelyn: We are always so excited to share our work with you. Thank you so much for supporting us!

Bianca: I want to say thank you for taking the time to read and support the magazine. I also want to encourage other creatives to contribute and submit their work even if they’re scared to. I lacked a lot of confidence in my work, and being able to contribute helped me a lot. So if there are any readers out there that want to contribute, just go ahead and do it. 🙂

Cait: thank you so much for being here!

Natasha: Thank you so much for not only taking the time to read my words but also the words of many other talented people who contribute to Kindergarten!

Vlada: Thank you. Truly, from the bottom of my heart. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Kindergarten Mag. Seeing people enjoy my work made me realize I can have a future in writing. Again, thank you.

Lianelys: Thank you for being the best and for taking the time to read and look at our contributions. We really appreciate you 🙂

Isabel: Hi! I know how easy and habitual it can be to swipe past posts or stories announcing a new essay or photo set, but if you ever took a few minutes to follow the link and enter our webpage, I sincerely thank you. Those few minutes can mean so much.

KG: Cheers to a great year and many more to come! Thanks everyone for all you’ve done for us this year. Kindergarten Mag signing off.


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