Stevenson High School’s WIT stays sharp
Stevenson senior Rachael Affenit (right), the co-editor of high school's student literature magazine, talks with club member Diana Lu. The WIT magazine has continued to win awards. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 18, 2012 9:44AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Another year, another haul of three awards for Stevenson High School’s literary magazine.
But this year was even more special for the staff of the WIT.
“We don’t always win the top level,” but coming really close is what made the last edition one of the best, explained Jim Barnabee, Stevenson communication arts teacher and the WIT’s staff instructor.
“We’ve had a consistent track record of success for ... years now ... I’m not even sure how many years.”
That would be 44 years for the WIT, with the recent 44th volume featuring the writing and illustrations of the 2011-12 student body. The recent edition of the magazine brought the American Scholastic Press Association’s second highest award back to Lincolnshire.
Barnabee and some of the WIT’s 2012-13 staff said they were thrilled to receive the honor, but not too surprised.
“We were excited, of course,” said Diana Lu, a junior staff member. “If you do the work, you expect to get a reward.”
The work that the previous staff did took most of the school year, and resulted in a 120-page, professionally bound and printed publication that featured 45 poems, a dozen works of prose fiction and essays, and 42 images including pen, paint or charcoal drawings and photographs.
The WIT’s staff annually parses through about 400 poems, 100 images and 30 prose creations before putting the magazine together.
“It used to be very small and printed in-house in the Stevenson print shop,” recalled Chris Heckel-Oliver, a club sponsor. “As Stevenson grew in population, we had so many more students that we wanted to spotlight. Each year, there’s another challenge.”
And the new staff looks to improve the WIT even more.
In past editions, the graphic artwork was always on the center pages. For the latest volume, however, the staff dispersed them throughout the layout.
The staff moved into a new room this fall, but the trophy case in its previous headquarters remains filled with the highlights of the last 10 years.
The next WIT is being co-edited by Shayna Korol and Rachael Affenit, both SHS seniors. Affenit said creating the follow-up to an award-winner was a challenge.
“It has to have a theme, it has to have a flow,” she said. “It has to look like it was all put together as one magazine, and not just a bunch of short stories.”
He serves as a judge for several school literature competitions, and said most take note of an entrant’s enrollment size and affluence. He explained that Stevenson stays competitive because of the WIT staff’s hard work.
“They always take into account wealth, how many resources do you have, and Stevenson has lots of resources,” Barnabee said. “In the end, it comes down to writing. These writers, and artists, are incredible.”