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Students’ magazine wins national award
POULSBO — The annual West Sound Academy magazine Mud Pie wasn’t created overnight. But the small student-staff at the Poulsbo campus didn’t have much breathing room between the first and last steps of the process.
“It’s a whirlwind,” said Mud Pie Editor-in-Chief Gabriella Vogt, an 11th grader at the academy.
The whirlwind at the end of the 2011-12 school year turned out to be worth the long hours: Mud Pie received the highest award in the 2012 Program to Recognize Excellence in Student Literary Magazines. The award is given by the National Council of Teachers of English.
The student-run publication was one of 26 that won the award, out of 417 schools that participated. The only other school receiving the highest award in Washington was Shorecrest High School for Tattoo magazine.
Vogt, the editor-in-chief for 2011-12 and again this year, was one of 10 who worked on the publication. The staff did it all, from editing submissions to page layout.
The work in Mud Pie is from students at West Sound. Last year, West Sound’s 90 students were encouraged to submit to the publication. As an incentive, if the staff received 75 submissions for consideration, Vogt and adviser Eleanor Johnson would have cream pies thrown at them. Students sent in more than 150 submissions. They received so many submissions faculty member Allan Batchelder also volunteered to be on the receiving end of a cream pie. Mud Pie is a magazine of art and literature. The final 70-page product consists of fiction, poetry, prose and photography.
This is the second year Mud Pie was entered in the contest. The 2011 edition was awarded the “Excellent” award in the same category. Though it’s a class, working at Mud Pie is more of a club, Johnson said. This is the third year the publication has been student run, she said. David Sumner-Smith works with Johnson as an adviser.
The student staff working on Mud Pie learn everything someone has to in order to publish a magazine. Students improve their editing skills while pitching ideas to their peers and managing their time.
What the academy students learned fit right into the goal of the National Council of Teachers of English. The goal of the council is to encourage excellence in writing, while encouraging schools to publish literary magazines and increase student participation in those magazines. In order to be submitted to the council, magazines must be the work of students.
The council evaluates magazines on the quality and variety of content within, how well it was edited and proofread, design quality, and use of graphics and pagination.
The publication was first printed during the 1998-99 school year. The content was produced by a mix of student and staff. Though students helped with the magazine, it came down to the teachers “putting it together in the ninth hour,” Johnson said.
Mud Pie is now student-run. The advisers are there to do just that — advise. Johnson said she might encourage someone to submit work, but that's about the extent of what goes into the publication.
Even the layout of the publication is done by the students, as ninth-grade student Aidan Moore knows all too well.
The award-winning Mud Pie was originally going to be designed using Word 2010. Moore began working on the design at home. After two hours of work, nothing was going the way he wanted.
Instead of putting up with a program that wasn't working for him, Moore downloaded the trial version of CreativeSuite so he could use InDesign. It was a 30-day trial, which meant Moore had 30 days to do all the design work. He admits he got help from watching a lot of YouTube how-to videos. "It was pretty difficult," Moore said. "But I was ready for the challenge."
The cover of the 2012 edition of Mud Pie is a shot of the Seattle Space Needle, looking up from the base. Inside there is a mix of written and visual art.
Vogt said the published work was put together in the magazine based on how the staff felt one submission worked with another.
“Everything kind of stands out in its own way,” she said.
The staff spent about one month reviewing submissions, about two weeks selecting submissions for publication, about one week of editing, and then designing and paginating. Because West Sound Academy classes are out in June, the staff of Mud Pie work from February to early May in order to finish in time.
Mud Pie is also printed on high-quality, glossy paper, which doesn't come cheap. However, after the staff of the other 25 winning publications began sending copies to the staff of Mud Pie, the academy students have been doing an in-school fundraiser to pay for 25 more copies to be printed. That way, Mud Pie can be distributed to those schools.
Johnson and Vogt have bigger goals for this year's publication. Along with submitting Mud Pie in other contests, she wants two submissions from each academy student. They would like to see at least 200 submissions.