Blue Review Earns Gold Medal from Columbia

Thursday, February 11, 2021

The 2020 issue of the Blue Review, Mercersburg Academy’s annual literary and art publication, received a Gold Medal Critique from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. 

Additionally, Mel Cort ’23 received an individual award for Open Form Poetry for their piece, “Trips to John Hopkins.” 

This year’s Blue Review features some of the best art and writing created by Mercersburg students. The staff for the 2020 edition included Jay Howley ’21 and Ryan Bland ’21, editors-in-chief for art; Birdy McDonnell ’20 and Lian Wang ’21, editors-in-chief for literary; and Julee Rodgers ’20, managing editor. 

The publication’s advisers are arts faculty member Kristen Pixler and English faculty member/Writing Center Director Michele Poacelli, 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.

“It was no minor feat to publish this book last year while tackling all the changes in our lives due to the pandemic,” Pixler says. “This award is proof of the staff and editors' dedication to our school and the publication's commitment to celebrating the vast and diverse artistic talents of our students and faculty. Ryan, Jay, Birdy, Julee, and Lian proved to be a tenacious and creative team that moved through these challenges with kindness, good humor, and grace.”

Mel Cort ’23

“It definitely is extremely gratifying, especially after all of the ragtag production and uncertainty that filled the spring assemblage of the book,” says Howley. “It's always great to get that return, and it's especially personal when it's such a collaborative effort such as the Blue Review.”

Wang says that “the theme of cacophony drove the design of the book, with a recurring motif of static guiding the cover and chapter pages.”

“It was wonderful to learn of the recognition from Columbia Scholastic Press Association for the book as a whole and for Mel Cort’s extraordinary poem in particular,” Poacelli says. “The Gold Medal award confirms what Mrs. Pixler and I saw in action last spring: a talented team of students on a mission. The mission was to build a unique platform to showcase the student art and writing of 2020. Not even a pandemic could stem that drive. Creativity and community prevailed, as they always do.”

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 2019 publication received a Gold Medal Critique and the 2018 publication received both a Gold Medal Critique and a Silver Crown Award.