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Graphiti literary magazine takes gold medal

| Thursday, Oct. 13, 2005

Jazz was hot for the staff of Woodland Hills High School's Graphiti magazine.

The May edition of the annual magazine won the Columbia Scholastic Press Association's gold medal. It is the eighth time the magazine has received the honor.

"It's an art and literary magazine that looks like a real magazine," said Steve Merrill, coordinator of the school's gifted program and adviser for Graphiti. "We chose 'Jazz Age' as the theme because we used art and pictures from the 1920s and other ideas from that period."

The magazine, which was produced entirely by students, scored 995 points on the association's 1,000-point evaluation scale.

The association's evaluation scrutinizes 80 different parts of magazine fundamentals, including reader's services and content. In addition to the gold medal, Graphiti won honors for design, organization and content.

"The judges went through and wrote up suggestions on how to examine the writing and design and other aspects," said Edmund Sullivan, director of the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. "It's a wonderful accomplishment for them."

The 60-page, full-color magazine was started 19 years ago by Merrill and another teacher.

"It was a struggle to put together that first book," Merrill said.

Today, with computer software, the process is easier, Merrill said.

About a decade after Graphiti was up and running, Merrill thought it was good enough to enter into the Columbia contest.

"Our goal is to reinvent ourselves every year and turn it up a notch," Merrill said with a laugh. "We decide on what we want to improve on, what we need to improve on and go from there."

Kate Maskarinec, 18, editor in chief of the award-winning Jazz Age edition, was surprised and happy that something she worked so hard on has won such accolades.

"I'm very excited and proud of the staff," said Maskarinec, a 2005 Woodland Hills graduate who now attends college in Maryland. "I think this is an incredible accomplishment. We produced a great publication."

Columbia Scholastic Press Association judges felt the same way.

"The visual content is especially strong. Each page is attractive with fresh images, and the entire visual aspect of the magazine is very strong and sophisticated. The reader is motivated to sit down and read the magazine from cover to cover, and the stories are wonderful," judges wrote.

Woodland Hills High School students from all grades worked on the publication for about three months.

"Students get involved in all areas of the magazine -- the selling, marketing, design, advertising, illustration and administration, everything," Maskarinec said.

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