03/11/09 — Wayne Country Day honored for literary magazine

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Wayne Country Day honored for literary magazine

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 11, 2009 1:46 PM

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The front cover of Excalibur, Wayne Country Day School's 2007-08 literary magazine.

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Ryan Son, a senior at Wayne Country Day School, looks at the 2008 edition of Excalibur, the school's literary magazine of student writing and artwork. Ryan handled design and layout of the publication, which recently earned the "highest award" distinction from the National Council of Teachers of English.

Seung Pyo Son, Ryan to his friends at Wayne Country Day School, has an avid interest in graphic design but admits he had no formal training.

So he was surprised when his editorial efforts of the school's literary magazine earned top national honors recently.

The 19-year-old senior from Korea has been at the school for three years. And Excalibur, the annual student publication of student writing and artwork, has been around for more than a decade, says adviser Pam Diffee.

But this is the first year the magazine has been recognized, she said.

"It's a pretty big deal," she said. "We want to be known for that."

Excalibur earned the "highest award" distinction from the National Council of Teachers of English for the 2008 edition, as part of the Program to Recognize Excellence in Student Literary Magazines. It was competing against 488 other schools.

"Fifty-nine of those schools were given top honors," Ms. Diffee explained. "Only five were schools in North Carolina. It's a pretty prestigious thing for us as small as we are."

And, she noted, it was mostly due to Ryan's talent and layout design.

Open to grades seven through 12, this was the first year he served as editor.

"He was the one-man staff behind it," Ms. Diffee said. "He just slaved over it."

English teachers selected student work, including short stories, poems and artwork. Publications were judged on layout, design, cover, writing, carrying through with the theme and editing.

"We were top in all areas," Ms. Diffee said.

Ryan, who is virtually self-taught, said he has spent years developing his creativity on the computer.

"My father is a designer so I grew up in a very artistic family," he said. "That inspired me to be interested in art. I found I have a talent in graphic design."

He's also design editor of the school yearbook.

He decided to help with the literary magazine because it seemed like a "good chance to contribute to the school."

"It was hard work -- painstaking sometimes -- but I really enjoyed it," he said. "I didn't expect any award. I was surprised and really happy."

He credited Headmaster Todd Anderson and Ms. Diffee with encouraging him to take the reigns on the layout and design work.

"It expanded part of my world," he said.

Currently weighing his options for college, Ryan said he has no plans to pursue a career in art. He's more interested in international relations or political science.

"I will still keep up the graphic design, though, as a hobby," he said.