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Blue Review Earns Gold Crown Award for Third Straight Year

By Jack Lewis ’25

The 31st volume of Mercersburg Academy’s annual literary and art publication, Blue Review, has earned a Gold Crown Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA).

The Blue Review staff initially thought this issue would have an Odyssey theme, focusing on journeys. The team soon realized they had received several pieces filled with what the editors referred to as, “aggressive and unapologetic exploration,” inspiring many of the design elements. The cover image reflects a scene in the retro-contemporary film, White Noise, by Noah Baumbach.

For the award-winning volume, the staff was composed of two editors-in-chief, Nate Austin ’23 for visual art and Mel Cort ’23 for literary arts, along with a large team of students. The publication was designed by Andrew Leibowitz ’24, Anne Sehon ’25, and Yael Hochberg ’25. Kacie England, an English faculty member, and Kristen Pixler, an arts faculty member, are the advisers for the student-run publication.

“That’s what I really love about the theme,” said Pixler. “It always seems to reflect thematically what’s happening on campus.”

Creating such an excellent volume requires many students to put in a significant amount of effort, which does not go unnoticed by the rest of the staff. 

“Nate Austin pretty much gave his entire spring term to working on the book. He did all of the illustrations within the publication, aside from the actual student-submitted art. Mel Cort, for the literary side, dedicated their entire winter term to working on submissions for editing and encouraging students to submit, which is usually a big hassle,” explained Sehon. “Both our head editors put absolutely everything into that book, and I think it definitely paid off, given we got a Gold Crown!”

Since 1901, Mercersburg has published an annual literary publication. Though originally titled The Lit, its name changed to Blue Review in the 1980s, and in 1993, it began accepting visual art. Any Mercersburg student can submit visual art, poetry, or other creative works to the publication. After receiving a submission, the staff reviews and critiques the work. Specifically for literary pieces, students may receive feedback from the team. Approximately 60 submissions are accepted for the final copy.

“It’s really a lot of work, and not just for the people who design the book, but also the people who put the hours into writing poetry and creating the art,” said Leibowitz. “It is really representative of the school and the student body. It’s a celebration of Mercersburg Academy’s culture.”

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association, founded nearly 100 years ago, strives to connect student journalists and faculty advisers from high schools nationwide in collaborative and supportive environments. Annually, the various judges from the CSPA typically award five Gold Crown Awards to various prints of excellence.

Pictured above (L to R): Associate Head of School Jen Craig, Blue Review advisers Kacie England and Kristen Pixler, and members of the Blue Review staff Andrew Leibowitz ’24, Jamie Vulakh ’24, and Bob Hollis ’24.