Hopkinton High School’s student literary magazine, Marginal, recently won honors in two national competitions.
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) recognized the publication as a REALM First Class magazine, the contest’s highest distinction. Only 38 magazines received that designation.
The magazine also earned the First Place with Special Merit designation in the 2022 American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) literary magazine contest, one of only four publications to achieve that honor among schools of 1,000 to 1,700 students.
Additionally, HHS junior Emily Jiang won an Outstanding Art designation for her oil painting titled “Free Sailing.” Jiang was one of only seven artists to earn this award in the entire contest. It was the first time the magazine has had an individual student receive this recognition.
For its efforts, the school earned certificates from both competitions and is acknowledged on the organizations’ websites.
HHS English teacher Benjamin Lally said he took over the student publication six years ago, a year after its revival following an absence since the early 2000s.
Although he is the adviser for the school club that meets weekly, Lally said the magazine is “100 percent student run.”
The 100-page annual publication includes stories, poetry, essays and art representing 40 students in all grades. Lally explained that on average, 100-120 submissions are carefully reviewed by student editors, with the creators kept anonymous. About 10 student participated in this editorial process, Lally said.
Competing with the finished product is “new territory,” he said. “Sending it out to be judged beyond the school makes it a serious endeavor. It creates a good pressure to make the magazine really good.”
The ASPA provides feedback and valuable insights designed to make future editions even better, Lally said.
Lally said although HHS’s magazine won NCTE honors two years ago during COVID, he was a bit surprised to see how well Marginal stacked up against far more competitors and strong ones. For example, first place was won by the Air Force Academy.
What made the difference, he thinks, was the really “solid variety of writing … skilled pieces … and impressive art work, which typically has more of a wow factor that jumps off the pages.”
Jiang said this was the third time she has submitted artwork to Marginal, thinking it would be a nice way to have her work featured in the school publication.
Of the honor, she said, “I’m pretty surprised especially since I just submitted for fun and didn’t know about the national competition.”
HHS senior Alveena Ehsan, one of Marginal’s lead editors, said she felt proud the magazine earned such recognition. “The writers in this magazine have written truly beautiful pieces, and we editors have worked incredibly hard to pick the best of the best,” she said.
Another lead editor, senior Owen Fitzpatrick, said that being chosen by his peers to have his art and poetry published in Marginal gave him the confidence to enter other art and writing contests throughout high school.
Fitzpatrick said Marginal is at the top of his extracurricular activities list and he hopes to work on the literary magazine at Bates College next year.
Senior Olivia Stacy, another lead editor, said the magazine is a great place for students to get involved with the writing and art community at HHS.
She was pleased to help shape the magazine as an editor and described the awards it earned as “awesome.”
“The more recognition it gets, the more we can support our student writers and artists and introduce new students to our community,” Stacy said. “Marginal is a beautiful collection of art and writing that anyone would love reading, so I am glad it is being shared.”
Copies of the magazine are for sale at HHS through Lally or at the Hopkinton Center for the Arts. The cost is $10.