SHAY CARLSON, STAFF WRITER
The Mountain Laurel has come to be known around campus as the expertly constructed collection of NGU’s most talented writers, artists, and poets, but in fall of 2016, The Mountain Laurel discovered that it wasn't just North Greenville that was taking notice of their publication. The Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) awarded The Mountain Laurel six Gold Circle Awards for their 2015-2016 Publication titled “Synapse”.
The CSPA was founded in 1925 by Columbia University to unite student journalists and faculty advisers across the nation that produce student newspapers, magazines, yearbooks or online media and to encourage each school involved to constantly improve and put out their best work by offering conferences, awards, and contests.
It is through the Gold Circle Awards that the CSPA receives more than 10,000 individual entries every year from student publications across the United States. Through rigorous critiques by a board of professional volunteers, the CSPA chooses 600 college students to be awarded in 204 categories.
So what made the 2015-2016 publication stand out? Kendra Freeman, the 2016-2017 managing editor for The Mountain Laurel described the unique collaborative effort of the “Synapse” staff: “We had a team that worked so well together, the art editor especially, Tyler Casamassa, pulled everything together and made a design that really appealed to the [CSPA] critique board”. Freeman describes the entire process of the publication as a bit of an exhilarating whirlwind, a hectic process that provides surprising benefits; "We are under pressure most of the time just to get it finished, but I think that makes for a better publication to some extent. We just make a decision without getting hung up on little details that could actually distract from what the overall collaborative effort looks like.”
The process behind The Mountain Laurel is one shrouded in mystery. Despite the editor and managing editor sitting down at the beginning of the semester to discuss possible themes, an official theme isn’t chosen until all the entries have been selected for publication.
“Even the staff submissions are completely confidential…we don’t know who’s submissions are whose until the end when the pieces are chosen” explains Freeman.The entire process culminates in a ‘reveal party’ in April in which the chosen entries are announced and the theme revealed.
The Mountain Laurel has received honorable mentions from the CSPA Gold Circle Awards previously, but the overwhelming success of last year’s publication is certainly a welcome motivator to all the students and staff involved in making the Mountain Laurel a reality.
As the staff prepare to send off the 2016-2017 publication for the CSPA Critique, Freeman encourages anyone interested in being part of the publication to “write, draw —whatever you are doing, do it from what you know and are passionate about” in order to continue the tradition of heartfelt, outstanding work produced by North Greenville students.
Because in the end, despite the awards, The Mountain Laurel is created to “show that Christ really does make the difference…we want to show the glorification of God through the talent here at North Greenville” explains Freeman.