I still have a single copy of the mini-magazine from my seventh grade year at Neosho Junior High School. That year, in addition to our normal schedule, students had the chance to choose a mini-course. Various options were available and I believe we had mini-courses for at least one school year, possibly more. In my first, we built a shadow box and filled it with interesting things but in the second, the one I remember the best, we made a magazine.

I still have a single copy of the mini-magazine from my seventh grade year at Neosho Junior High School. That year, in addition to our normal schedule, students had the chance to choose a mini-course. Various options were available and I believe we had mini-courses for at least one school year, possibly more. In my first, we built a shadow box and filled it with interesting things but in the second, the one I remember the best, we made a magazine.
As a aspiring writer, I was intrigued by the idea. Our teacher and advisor was Mrs. Judy Buwalda, now better known as Judy Haas Smith. She brought her real life experience with LIFE magazine to our small band of creative kids and we put together a magazine. Each of us chose a topic or two to write about. Our topics required approval and then we researched it before writing a small article.
The topic I selected was Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, of freedom over tyranny and of the victory of the few against many.
The event commemorated at Hanukkah happened in the 200 BC era in a turbulent time when Israel was ruled by Syrian and Greek forces. The Temple in Jerusalem, the holiest of the Holy, was changed to honor a pagan deity. The Temple had always had a lamp which burned day and night as a symbol of the Jewish faith. Judah Maccabee was a priest and when he saw the once beautiful temple defiled and the lamp dark, he rose up against the Syrian tyrants.
He fought in many battles and lost his life in one but he triumphed and the Temple was restored to the Jewish people.
Enough oil was found to burn for just one day, not long enough to rededicate the temple but it was lit.
The lamp burned for eight days and nights, long enough to restore the Temple as a holy place.
Hanukkah commemorates this miracle of light and triumph.  It celebrates hope in the face of darkness. While it's been sometimes called 'the Jewish Christmas' in error, it's not.
This year, in 2017 or 5778 in the Jewish calendar, Hanukkah begins at sunset on December 12 and ends at sundown on December 20.  It is observed by lighting one candle each night on a menorah which holds eight candles, until all are burning.
The story of Judah and the Maccabees is found in my Catholic Bible, one of the seven books a Catholic Bible contains that do not appear in Protestant Bibles. The reason is that they were removed by Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran faith and one of the earliest individuals who started other Christian denominations. First and Second Maccabees tell the story of the Maccabees and their fight to free Israel of its' oppressors.
In a month filled with celebrations and religious observances, Hanukkah brings light.
These many years later, it's interesting to note that my second publication, as modest as it was, still resonates. Although Catholic and despite the fact Hanukkah falls during the Christmas season, I light the candles each night and we retell the story of Judah Maccabee.
Since my article in the mini-magazine, I've written many articles about a wide variety of subjects but I'll never forget my first article and my second publication in our mini-magazine our 7th grade group put together.
Tonight, as the shadows of dusk gather, the first candle will be lit to commemorate the long ago victory and the rededication of the Temple.
For any who also celebrate, Hanukkah Sameach and for the rest, we're twelve days away from Christmas Eve!

Lee Ann Murphy is a staff writer and writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.