The Columbia High School art and literary magazine Guildscript received two national recognitions, a first-place award in the competitive American Scholastic Press Association competition and the rank of "Excellent" in the 2009 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Program to Recognize Excellence in Student Literary Magazines.
The award-winning edition was published in the spring of 2009 under the direction of Literary Editors-in-Chief Emily Hahlbeck and Hillary Knecht; Art Selection Committee Leaders Katie Haas and Emily Hahlbeck; and Design Editor Molly Hoffman, all 2009 graduates. Faculty advisors are Mary Brancaccio, CHS English teacher, and Cindy Malhotra, CHS graphic arts teacher.
The American Scholastic Press Association selected Guildscript as one of only 105 literary magazines to receive this national award. The NCTE program awarded the rank of "Excellent" to 207 magazines, 30 of them from New Jersey. The publications are judged on the high quality, variety and artistic strength of the content.
The more than 40-page magazine features both writing and artwork of Columbia students. All students are invited to submit work to a panel of judges, who determine which to publish.
"Names are covered when each piece is judged," said Brancaccio, in a press release. "The pieces are accepted on merit alone. Students who think their work won't make the cut are often surprised.
"I believe students in this school understand what real genius is and what it means to be a writer and artist. From the caliber of conversations I hear around the building, I know there is a strong intellectual climate here."
In a letter to the reader, found in the front of the magazine, the literary editors described the content of the publication. "From deranged marionettes to a crazed boy obsessing over ice cream, this Guildscript reflects the creative vibe of Columbia's student body," wrote Hawlbeck and Knecht. "We have received an abundance of submissions revealing the artistic and literary abilities of our peers. We were satisfyingly overwhelmed by the process of choosing from such impressive pieces."
The editors also talked about a new group formed to support Guildscript, called Writer's Group. Meeting once a week after school in the library, members of the group support each other's creative talents. They write, revise, edit and critique their work and then submit their best writing, hoping for acceptance into the magazine.
Julia Wolkoff, one of the current co-editors-in-chief, said many people don't realize how talented the student writers are. She said she is often asked if most of the work submitted is poetry about teen angst. "The inquirers would be amazed to see the work submitted encompasses a broad range of emotion and diverse thought," she said in a press release.
Co-Editor-in-Chief Cory Meyers explained, "This is a very unusual collection of work. We pull from so many students from such diverse backgrounds, which makes Guildscript so interesting to read."
Brancaccio gave credit to the top notch artwork that is submitted for publication to the strong art program at Columbia.
"So many of our students, who take a wide variety of art classes here, go on to become professionals in their fields," she added. "The graphics department is no exception. The care and attention Ms. Cindy Malhotra's graphics students gave to the look and layout of the Guildscript certainly helped it win the recognition it received."