Published Date Written by Adam DrapchoGILFORD — Typically, it's easy for the literary-minded of high school students to hide, to walk unnoticed among their peers. At Gilford High, though, the veil of obscurity has been removed from the editorial team behind Obsessive Image, the school's literary magazine. For two consecutive years, the American Scholastic Press Association has declared the publication the "Most Outstanding Literary Art Magazine."
"It feels like a big deal, it feels like validation for the work we're doing," said Sarah Gill, a senior who has served on the magazine's editorial team for three years.
The club — referred to as "Lit Mag" by its members –— is comprised of nine student editors and teacher Scott Hutchison, who serves as advisor. The club's job is to meet and decide, often through passionate debate, which works of literature, poetry, photography and other visual art are deserving of publication in that year's edition of Obsessive Image. For the past 20 years, said Hutchinson, the magazine has been honored by various awards from the Scholastic Press Association, but only for the 2011 and 2012 issues was the magazine given the association's highest honor.
At GHS, the reins of Obsessive Image are carefully passed from one year's editors to the next. As Gill explained, being invited to serve on the editorial team is an honor reserved for students who are strongly interested in literary works and are strong enough to champion a submission they believe in, even in the face of criticism.
In addition to Gill, editors that worked on the 2012 edition were Shannon McQueen, Brian Burns, Emily Watson, Tyler Haddock, Taunya Latuch, Sarah Cook, Roland DuBois, Lindsey Essaff and Emily Hanf.
Submissions to the magazine are provided by the student body, often resulting from class assignments. The team of editors reads each piece and then meets to decide which belong in the school's magazine. There's no quota for numbers of poems or finite space alloted to photography; whatever impresses a majority of the editors will be included.
A submission need not gain majority approval on first reading. If there is only one "yes" vote among the editors when an item is first evaluated, then the work is placed in the "maybe" pile, said Gill. When it comes next before the team, the supporting editor can argue for its inclusion. When necessary, a submission will be returned to its creator with edits that would be required for publication.
For Gill, who plans to attend the University of Chester, England next year and study creative writing and literature, Lit Mag has been an opportunity for her to indulge her passions and hone her skills. "I like the entire literary world," she said. "I really enjoy helping people improve their writing. We have some great writers in this school who don't shout from the rooftops that they're good writers, but they are. Lit Mag gives them that opportunity."
Gill continued, "We have a pretty good underground writing community. Our volleyball team is very good, everybody knows that. I don't think people know how creative we are." Her creative classmates, she said, represent, "the hidden talent of Gilford."
Could Gilford go for three years in a row? Gill thinks there's a good possibility. Submissions have been of high caliber, especially for poetry, she reported.
Hutchison said he was taken aback when he heard of the award. "I'm rather amazed by it. I knew we had a quality publication, but to think that, of all the schools in the country, the American Scholastic Press says this is the best? It's amazing to me, but we do a good job... we have good writers. We don't treat them like kids who are writing, we treat them like young writers.
CAPTION for OBSESSIVE IMAGE in AA:
Obsessive Image, the literary magazine published by Gilford High School students, has been named "Most Outstanding High School Literary Art Magazine" by the American Scholastic Press Association for two years in a row. Shown here is the editorial team working on the 2013 edition. Front row, left to right, Nathan Boudwell, Sarah Gill and Lindsey Essaff. Back row: Stratton Coleman, Casey Warnick, Roland DuBois and Sarah Cook. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)