Amanda Potts, Sierra Valarida, Tessa Kyber, Ricardo Urbano and Sam Marcus unbox a book they collectively wrote called “The 2:30 Circle,” a collection of poetry, prose and short stories. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

For the Keizertimes

“The 2:30 Circle” began as an educational opportunity for youth to express themselves and find a voice through writing. It has transformed into a work of pride and excitement for nine youth from McNary High School.

The Flash Fiction Club published an 84 page book compiling their original works of poetry, prose, and short stories on June 5.

Eric Howald of the Keizertimes set up the group with the help of Creative Writing Teacher Susanne Stefani. Students met once a week after school at 2:30 p.m. to challenge themselves and learn through written word.

One of the writers, recent graduate Ricardo Urbano, wrote a five-page piece about an orphan youth who struggles with also being a werewolf.

“I’ve always had this fascination with werewolves,” Urbano said. “I wanted to explore in my own imagination. I want to fulfill the fantasies I had when I was younger.”

Along with this piece, titled “A Pair of Waifs,” Urbano has six-word memoirs included in the book. “This experience has given me much more confidence to share my work and truly focus on completing stories and ideas that I’ve had before that I’ve never been able to bring to life,” Urbano said. “It was fun creating a piece that I could share with the world and would end up in a book like I’ve always wanted.”

Now, as a graduate of McNary High School, Urbano wants to major in cinematography so that he can practice writing scripts and produce movies in the future.

One of the students, junior Amanda Potts, wrote many short stories, a poem, and six-word memoirs for the book. She had been an avid writer and even worked for the school newspaper at McNary, but she said that seeing the book for the very first time was “probably the most exciting moment of my life.”

She wants to continue writing as a lifelong skill, and so when she saw the book, she said that “I was imagining myself throwing an un-boxing party for my own novel.” Potts will continue her education at Chemeketa Community College and then transfer to either Western Oregon University or Oregon Institute of Technology to study pre-med or mathematics.

Cover of “The 2:30 Circle”

Samuel Marcus, another contributor to the book, said that “being published kind of made me feel like now, my thoughts were history and set in stone. The world won’t ever see a revision from me, or an edit, or a second-guess. It’s as reassuring as it is scary.”

His works within the book are “A Rose For My King,” “I Wanna,” “Eyes of Autumn,” and a six-word memoir.

Marcus also created the artwork that adorns the cover of the published book. He said that his inspiration for his work came mostly from his environment. Marcus plans to study fine arts and psychology in the future.

Howald, who helped guide the students through this process, believes that the most important thing for readers to understand is that “writing anything and shoving it out into the world for others to read takes an immense amount of courage.”

Potts said that she didn’t expect to fully get involved with the Flash Fiction Club, but that “the different ideas that Howald brought in really helped me develop my voice as a writer,” which pushed her to be inspired and involved with the group. Howald expressed his intense pride for each of the youth who took a leap of courage while writing this compilation, and he has plans to continue the same kind of group writing experience next school year.

The book “The 2:30 Circle” can be purchased for $6 throughout the summer at the Keizertimes office, at Tony’s Kingdom of Comics, Booksmart or online at Additional copies may also be sold at the beginning of the school year at McNary High School. Funds will be used to continue the club and fund production of next year’s book.