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From the time Collage, Liberty High School’s literary magazine, fired back up four years ago it has garnered national attention.
And it continues to do so.
For the second year in a row, LHS has earned two Gold Circle awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association at Columbia University. The magazine earned a third place nationally for the black and white cover design and a Certificate of Merit for its cartoon. Collage also earned its third consecutive Gold Medalist honor, earning 946 out of a possible 1,000 points, along with being cited for All-Columbian Honors in design.
This year’s managing editors are seniors Olivia Groff and Maggie Esposito. Working with the magazine has given them the opportunity to learn a variety of skills since they joined the staff as sophomores.
“You could see the different types of creativity that were available,” Groff said of deciding to be a part of the staff three years ago. “I felt it was a different outlet than sports, or something. I just wanted to be a part of something new like that.”
She said the staff is like a family. “It’s really a diverse group that is involved in it. But we all pull together to make something every year.”
Groff added that staff members learn what it takes to run a business. The magazine staff must raise all of their own funds to produce Collage.
Esposito said she’s more of an artistic person, which prompted her to join Collage after seeing the first magazine as a freshman. “I said, ‘wow, I didn’t even know we had something like that.’ ... It’s been great. It’s made me want to become a journalist.”
The magazine is produced once a year and is about 70 pages. Among the fundraisers held are open mic nights for students from the school. “Whatever they want to come and do,” Esposito said. “We charge a cover fee for them to come.”
Various community outlets host the events.
The staff also raise money at Centerfest and though this year’s event was washed out around noon, the staff still did well before the heavy rain came and sent most of those attending home. “We had wandering minstrels going around telling people what we do and selling baked goods and selling our magazines. It was actually pretty successful,” Esposito said.
While there are 18 on this year’s staff, the entire school is invited to participate by supplying submissions for the magazine. The goal, the editors said, is to provide a wide variety of literary styles and works in the magazine.
The art and literary staffs eventually decide what will be included.
The class meets every other day. A typical day? “Chaos,” they state. “Creativity just basically exploding.”
Staff members also work on their own writing which helps them judge other people’s work.
“I want us to get more of a following outside of the school,” Groff said, “to take a look at Collage and see what we do.”
The editors would also like to see the magazine continue to garner national recognition. “Just going up against all of these other schools, which has so much more funding ... it’s pretty amazing that a school this small comparatively can actually go on to win something,” Esposito said.
Junior Nick Fisher has been on the staff for two years, working with the publicity staff. “I’m learning people skills, how to go out and talk to people,” he said.
Charlotte Frazer, the adviser for the magazine, said the student-ownership of Collage has created the success it has enjoyed. “I believe that when you give a student a project that they can fully invest themselves in, they feel a lot more free to do what it is they want to do and it’s a lot more motivation.”
The staff has studied other successful magazines to understand the type of quality it takes to be nationally recognized. “It changes with each group of students that make up the staff,” Frazer said of the evolution of the magazine. “Ultimately the publication reflects the personalities of the people who decided the kinds of things they wanted to put in.”
The staff this year is made up with a number of new students. “I’m really curious to see how this year’s going to be different,” she said. “We’re trying to get a wider variety of students to submit their work.”
Funding, she said, is a large issue. The staff is using older computer programs for layout and Frazer said she would like to see what they could do with better software.
The magazine sells for $7. It takes about $2,500 to fund the year’s project. About 300 to 500 copies of the magazine are produced each year.
She said the longer the magazine is around, the more it garners attention from the school community. She hopes students get “a stronger sense of self expression” by participating in the class. “You don’t just learn how to design a spread graphically or how to write better, though that’s a part of it,” Frazer said. “They’re learning business skills. ...all types of things you wouldn’t normally learn in a creative writing class.”