The staff of Sparta High School’s literary-arts magazine, Beginnings, was recently awarded a Gold Medal, the highest distinction, from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The staff’s 2015 magazine was judged and critiqued based on design, concept, and content. It scored very highly in all three categories.

The design concept of this year’s edition was inspired by fairy tales, although the student work did not have to conform to the theme. Twenty different Sparta High School writers, 16 photographers and 12 fine artists were published in the magazine.

Columbia Scholastic Press Association is an international student press association, whose goal is to unite student journalists at schools and colleges through educational conferences, critiques, and award programs. CSPA is owned and operated by Columbia University.

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“I’m so proud to be a part of a group who worked so hard to receive the Gold Award.  The countless after-school sessions and time we put in truly paid off. I can’t wait to do it again this year,” says junior Payton Markvicka.

The editors of Beginnings include: Editor-in-Chief Bridget Higdon, Literary Editor Sydney Slouka, Assistant Literary Editor Daniel Rogers, and Photography Editor Emma Zahner. Staff members include: Molly Sullivan, Annalise Dottinger, Payton Markvicka, Andrew Vreeland, and Jack Muino.

The staff meets once a week after-school to talk about and evaluate the poetry, prose, short stories, and art submitted. Using Photoshop, the staff utilizes their creativity and design skills to create all of the magazine’s pages from scratch.

To start off 2016, Beginnings is launching Sparta High School’s first-ever digital literary-arts magazine. The new website will feature a new student artist, writer, and musician each month.

“The goal of the digital publication is to unite and celebrate all of the arts at the high school. The new site is a platform where they all can be recognized and enjoyed,” explains Higdon.

January’s featured students include photographer Emma Rennie, creative writer Carly Marquez, and musician Stephen Andrewlavage. Remarks from their teachers and samples of their work can be found on the new website

The staff is currently hard at work on this year’s magazine. Students are welcome to join.