The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

The online student news site of Redondo Union High School

High Tide

Self-published Students

Self-published authors Sloane Graham, Delilah Aguliar and Thi Chan were featured at the Sea Hawk Author Series in the library on Feb. 6, 13 and 20.

When picking a book off of the shelf, one could expect to find authors like George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, or Trevor Noah, but three new books have hit the shelf written by our very own RUHS students. Each of these three students had the opportunity to spotlight the reading and publishing processes of their books to an audience in the library from an event called “Sea Hawk Author Series,” organized by Cassandra Jones, the school librarian.

The first event took place on Feb. 6 where junior Sloane Graham presented her book, “based on a true story,” and explained her process of publishing and writing it.

“My book is a collection of poetry and I wrote it over the summer. It was about my personal experiences, that’s why it’s called ‘based on a true story.’ The main goal for me in the book was to help others identify with feelings that are hard to put into words,” Graham said. “The main point of the book is to write down feelings and make them be able to be felt through the page.”

When reading passages aloud from her book, Graham found it “difficult” because this event marked the first time she showcased her book to an outside audience rather than her close friends and family. 

“That was my first time really sharing those personal feelings,” Graham said. “It felt really gratifying because it was the first time I can actually correctly express it and share it for others to hear, it was a really nice feeling.”

The event allowed Graham to “share what was once only written on pages” and gave her an opportunity to connect with an audience. 

“It’s really beneficial to be able to express those emotions and have those reactions and it felt really nice to identify that with what I wrote during the summer,” Graham said. “I loved hearing all the other perspectives too, like Delilah’s, it’s really interesting to hear and I love hearing about the different publishing processes and the different ways they went about it.”

Junior Delilah Aguilar presented her book, “The Bluest of Days,” the following week, on Feb. 13 that, like Graham’s novel, also had a connection to her own experiences.

“The book is about this little girl who loses her best friend, Joel, and she’s looking around for answers on how to deal with this grief. So she asks her mom, her dad, her teacher, God, and she’s getting all these different answers and then each answer is designed to be a comforting message for children as they read it,” Aguilar said. “I made it after I had a very close loss of my family so I wrote that for my younger cousins so they could have it and it’s their favorite book, it made me really happy so it’s very rewarding.”

In the process of creating her book, Aguilar went on Upwork, an American freelancing platform, to hire an illustrator and a formatter to help with the visuals seen in her book while she focused on the writing. During the presentation, Aguilar explained her book’s process but didn’t expect the highly emotional experience of reading her book to her audience. 

“I was so confident leading up to it. I was practicing on FaceTime with my boyfriend and I was giving him my whole presentation. I was like, ‘I’m not gonna cry’ because it’s a very touchy subject. It is about grief,” Aguilar said. “It’s a very emotional book for me so I did all this to warm up because I really didn’t want to get choked up and then [during the presentation] I got choked up. It was so embarrassing, but everyone there was really supportive and then I didn’t really feel judged.”

According to Aguilar, part of her support in the making of her book came from her counselor, Denise Holmes, and Honors 10 English and Personal Finance teacher, Anthony Magani.

“All of my counselors showed up because they were very supportive. When I had taken the bereavement leave then came back, I was with Ms. Holmes and I remember before I even knew I was going to publish it, I had the doc written up because we were talking about healing and how I’m handling it. And I was like, ‘I actually wrote like a children’s book’ and I had her read the doc,” Aguilar said. “And then she came to the event and she’s like, ‘I remember you showing it to me and I remember being so moved and it’s so cool that we got to this point, and now it’s here.’” 

The purpose of Aguilar’s book is to help teach young children healthy coping skills that they will take with them as they get older as well as guiding parents to support their children when dealing with loss.

“I feel like our youth is so important,” Aguilar said. “On the back of the book, I have signs of childhood depression and I have a list of things to look out for in case anyone sees their kids struggling, they’ll know the warning signs.”

Aguilar hopes her book will be a tool for healing and a place to find comfort. This same message is echoed by senior Hope Thi Chan, who presented her book, “Happier: A Journey of Self-Discovery,” on Feb. 20, the last week of the event series.

“My book is about mental health. It teaches about the ‘Wellness Wheel,’ which is a pretty popular kind of tool for organizing the different aspects of wellness, which is physical, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual wellness and the idea behind it is that these different aspects are balanced,” Chan said. “My book is all about having self discovery and being able to appreciate how you got [to your goals] and appreciating how you have the tools to be able to live a happier life in a sense.”

During her presentation, Chan explained the philosophy behind her book, with five units, each for the five aspects of wellness. She walked audience members through how she formatted each unit and how to learn from the skills and activities she included within each chapter. The overall purpose of each chapter is to try to teach people “the skills and the tools to build more positive mindsets to better mental health” and to build more awareness on the subject.

Pullquote Photo

“My friend died by suicide in 2020 and so his death really made me realize the mental health crisis and made me realize how bad the lack of education for mental health is in schools because quite frankly, me and my friends were not educated on how to recognize the signs. We have no mental [awareness] whatsoever. We barely touched on it in school. We really were not equipped to be able to handle our own mental health but also be able to recognize other people’s poor mental health. It showed me that we needed education programs and so that spurred me to create my own education program.”

— Thi Chan, 12th

Each writer shared their own experience while developing their books and Chan gives advice for those looking to create their own novels.

“If you have an idea for a book, just start writing. Do a brain dump and write freely, after you’ve done that, you can try to organize those thoughts into something more cohesive and structured for your book,” Chan said. “I’ve gotten so much positive feedback since publishing it and I’m so grateful for all the support and encouragement I’ve received during the writing process and after.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Marley Van Pelt
Marley Van Pelt, Print Features Editor
Hola my friends. My name is Marley. I love dogs. Dogs are the best creatures to ever walk the Earth. If you disagree then, by all means, come over to my house and meet my dog, Sirius - He'll change your mind in a heartbeat.

Comments (0)

All High Tide Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *