Blue Review Earns Gold Crown Award

Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Carina Cole ’22 (center) and Nate Austin ’23 presented
Julia Stojak Maurer ’90, associate head of school for school life,
with the Gold Crown award during a school meeting.

The 2021 edition of Blue Review, Mercersburg Academy’s annual literary and art publication, has earned a Gold Crown Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. A Crown Award is ​​the highest recognition given by the CSPA to a student print or digital medium for overall excellence.

View a PDF of the award-winning publication.

Last year’s Blue Review, titled “Mazes,” features some of the best art and writing created by Mercersburg students. The staff for the 2021 edition included editors-in-chief Ryan Bland ’21 and Jay Howley ’21 (art) and Lian Wang ’21 (literary); Carina Cole ’22 served as managing editor, and Nate Austin ’23 was instrumental in the design of the book.

“I think that receiving a Gold Crown Award means a lot to the staff, as it speaks to the dedicated work and creativity of our crew,” says Austin. “It feels satisfying to be recognized in such a way after crafting a unique vision from deciding the theme to sending it to print. It is also rewarding to out-place publications of our own from previous years. Watching Blue Review’s work grow and change as different hands design the books each year is very inspiring and motivating as we continue our work.” 

Columbia Scholastic Press critiques Blue Review each year. The publication is judged in three separate competitions: the Medal critique, which reviews the book based on specific criteria of a publication; the Circle awards, which looks at specific single categories, such as cover design and individual student awards; and the Crown awards, which looks at the overall quality of the publication. The publication has won several awards in recent years, including a Gold Medal Critique in 2020, Gold Medal Critique in 2019, and a Gold Medal Critique and a Silver Crown Award in 2018.

“We’re extremely proud of the talented student editors and staff who created the 2021 publication,” says Michele Poacelli P ’24, English department head and director of the Writing Center. “‘Mazes’ is a beautiful book in both design and content. It was most certainly a labor of love, as much of it was built last winter when classes were still online. Staff met virtually and completed work remotely. The creative spirit at Mercersburg is so strong that even these adverse conditions couldn’t dampen it. We’re thrilled with the book and honored by the Gold Crown Award.”

Poacelli and arts faculty member Kristen Pixler serve as advisers to Blue Review. The publication is supported through the arts department, the Writing Center, and the English department.

Blue Review, founded in 1901, was originally known at The Lit. Its name changed in the 1980s, and shortly after, artwork was included in the annual publication.

Blue Review is my favorite club or organization I’ve ever been involved with,” says Howley, who is currently in his first year at Maryland Institute College of Art. “The faculty provide and facilitate an atmosphere of really well executed collaboration and process to help get this book out. The community that gets built throughout is second to none, and the platform I’ve seen the book give to artists and writers in the Mercersburg community is astounding. I feel like Blue Review is the stone that sharpens every creative blade it comes into contact with. Every time I’ve brought visual or written work to the publication, I feel as though it came out razor sharp and really became what I wanted. Blue Review will always be in my heart and is a driving reason behind me pursuing the visual arts. It’s second to none.”

For more information on this story, please contact Lee Owen ( in Mercersburg’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.