Elena Hartley
Elena Hartley

Elena Hartley
The Lovett School, Class of 2014

Elena Hartley says she learned the value of hard work while writing and developing her own manga, or graphic novel, “Renewal.”

“I gained very much respect for manga writers during the process,” Elena said. “It helped me appreciate all the hard work that goes into it.”

For her senior project at The Lovett School, Elena decided to design, write and illustrate her own manga, a Japanese style of graphic novel. “I always loved Japanese video games as a kid,” she said, “especially Pokémon.” When asked how she first became interested in manga, Elena recalled her freshman year of high school. “I never really like reading,” she said. “But when a friend introduced me to anime and manga, I fell in love. There were so many different kinds of it that I was never bored with reading it.”

Her project centers around two talented twins living in an alternate society that categorizes people based on their abilities. “The story is about the twins coming to terms with the life that they have,” Elena said. She says she found inspiration for the story in her day-to-day life, and used traits picked up from her friends to create the characters in Renewal. In addition, she was influenced by various anime and manga creators, especially Hayao Miyazaki, a famous Japanese director.

During the 2013-2014 school year, Elena wrote and illustrated the first two chapters of “Renewal” with the goal of finishing it during the summer.

In addition to reading, watching and creating anime and manga, Elena participated in several clubs and activities at Lovett, including the business club and the filmmakers club. She also participated in Student Technology Leadership, which worked to set up websites and offer technology support to students. Additionally, Elena engaged in the technical theater program, which includes light design, set construction and stage crew work for Lovett’s drama productions.

“Dedication is a word best associated with Elena. She was dedicated to our technical theater program, dedicated to her schoolwork, dedicated to her friends and mostly, dedicated to being her true self,” said Susan McCluskey, Elena’s technical theater director. “She is an incredibly gifted and kind young lady who has an unquenchable desire to learn and try new things.”

This summer, Elena is visiting England, France and the Netherlands. She also planned to work as an intern at United Sciences, a company that funds research for and offers support to budding inventors.

What’s Next:

In the fall, Elena will attend Oberlin College. She wants to study science, but is unsure which branch suits her best.

–This article was written by Liam Kirchner, a student at Marist.

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