Class of 2017: Cape Elizabeth senior in a 'Hell of a Place'

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CAPE ELIZABETH — High school senior Joseph DeMarco is tapping into both his creative and technical sides.

DeMarco, who will graduate with the rest of his class in a ceremony at Fort Williams Park on Sunday, June 11, plans to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, in the fall.

Meanwhile, he’s hard at work on a novel, entitled “Hell of a Place.”

The fantasy-genre book tells the story of a man sent to hell following his death. While he knows he belongs there, his only goal is to complete a series of steps that will get him out.

“The book really focuses on the line between good and evil, right and wrong, fair and unfair,” DeMarco said.

He’s been working on the novel for the past two years, and said he has done “a lot of research and adding lore” from Christianity, Judaism and Islam, which he has found both interesting and enlightening.

DeMarco is working on the novel with Kevin St. Jarre, a social studies teacher at Cape Elizabeth High School. It is the focus of DeMarco’s senior transition project, a requirement for graduation.

DeMarco said St. Jarre, who is a published author, is helping him focus on the elements of good storytelling, as well as providing input and feedback on what he’s written.

“I think of various scenarios and write them down,” DeMarco said. “Right now I have about 20 pages of note sheets.”

His hope is to eventually have the novel published, but said it’s an ongoing project that could change “as my grasp of the world changes.”

In addition to writing, DeMarco is also drawn to the theater, where he’s been on the technical crew all four years of high school. His job is manning the sound board; he said what’s great about the shows is seeing the written word brought to life.

His favorite was the school’s one-act submission to the Maine Drama Festival a couple years ago, called “The Dishwasher.” What he most liked was “taking this piece we didn’t know anything about and creating something incredible.”

“Theater classes have been my favorite,” DeMarco added. “I’ve never really been a fan of English class, but in the theater you have more creative ability.”

DeMarco was also a member of the chess team and the Natural Helpers. He also works at Elevation Burger.

What he most enjoys about chess is the challenge that’s presented with every match. “I like how you can study and study chess, but still never know it all,” DeMarco said. “Each move can become really intense, especially at tournaments.”

His dream job would be to work for Google or Facebook, he said.

“I’ve always loved math and problem-solving, and what I like about programming is learning all the different languages” involved in creating software. “I’m mainly thinking I would like to go into game design,” DeMarco said.

He’s “really excited” about college and is also looking forward to graduating from high school.

“Just graduating is awesome,” DeMarco said. “That feeling of, we did it and we learned a lot along the way.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Jospeh DeMarco, a senior at Cape Elizabeth High School, is working on a novel while also planning to become a computer programmer.