Embryo and Evolutions prepare to release issues

As the semester comes to an end, two of Westminster’s arts publications will release their issues for the 2020-2021 school year. Despite COVID-19 restrictions, both Evolutions, the creative writing magazine, and Embryo, the poetry and arts magazine, will be publishing hard copies of their respective issues. Both publications feature works by Westminster students, and many submissions have been inspired by the events of the past year. The magazines are student-run with guidance from faculty advisors.

“I think we’ve pushed it so the magazine itself feels more like an art form,” said Benjamin Steele, one of the faculty advisors for Embryo alongside Mario Chard. 

Steele teaches many arts classes in the Upper School in addition to working on the Embryo staff and cultivating his own art. While both Steele and Chard advise the Embryo staff team, the head editors are the major leaders and handle most of the meetings and work. The current head editors of Embryo are seniors Riya Jayanthi, Rachel Liu, Max Norman, and Sarah Street. 

This school year, the Embryo staff centered the magazine on the theme of dreamscapes, and the staff has worked hard to critique and gather each piece carefully. As Steele said, the Embryo staff carefully puts together its publication so that the magazine is a work of art. 

While Evolutions and Embryo are similar in the sense that they are both student-led magazines, the Evolutions staff focuses more on the revision process. 

“We have a very different philosophy from Embryo, so it was good to have a separate magazine at this school. We take every piece that students submit, but we also ask these people to workshop these pieces,” said Jennifer Dracos-Tice, one of the faculty advisors. “The goal of the magazine is to celebrate the process of revision, and it is also to celebrate the different voices in the community put together. When I look at Evolutions, I think of the pieces that are really brave.” 

Both publication staffs seek to establish a sense of community and build leaders. This year, the staff members of each magazine have faced unique challenges, yet they’ve persevered to create final magazines that are to the level of ones from past years.

The Embryo and Evolutions staff members have met on Zoom throughout the year, which made it especially difficult to build an atmosphere of teamwork and discussion. Specifically, the Embryo staff was challenged with the difficulty of critiquing and creating productive conversations online about the art and literature submissions.

“As an admin team, we really wanted to have staff members have more input into the creative process of the magazine, but it was difficult because we weren’t allowed to meet in person,” said senior Riya Jayanthi, one of the editors-in-chief of Embryo. “We couldn’t get together, bring bagels, and have all of the usual fun this year in meetings.”

While this year has been extremely difficult for members of both magazines to put together good work, they are very excited to release their hard work. The Embryo head editors recently sent off their final copies of the magazine to start going through the publishing and printing process. Evolutions is also finishing up their layouts and sending them in. 

At the beginning of every year, the magazines build their staffs and start advertising for submissions. Neither magazine would exist without the talented Westminster students and staff who submit pieces. Each magazine has multiple deadlines for submissions that tend to come in throughout the year with more and more advertisements through staff members and students. 

Once Embryo starts getting submissions, editors critique pieces in staff meetings where they discuss how they might fit into the book. In contrast, once Evolutions starts to receive submissions, editors reach out to these writers about beginning the revision process.

When pieces are either revised or chosen for the publications, layout begins. Layout was a much more grueling process this year in both magazines. Typically, Evolutions would have a very large and long meeting where staff members would read over and sort the final pieces to create a table of contents. Embryo works with the staff first and then the editors begin putting together layouts with the creative inputs of student staff. Once the layouts and contents for the magazines are completed, they are sent to printing companies. 

“It’s been really fun working with this publishing group year after year,” said Steele. The company really enjoys working with the school and the students.”

The magazine editors work with the publishing groups and eventually finalize the copies after multiple checks for errors. Once finalized, the magazines are printed and then released to the students and staff members of Westminster. Last year, publications were released virtually, but the Evolutions and Embryo editors have been working toward releasing hard copies this year for the school. Regardless of the challenges of this year, there is no doubt that the Westminster community will come together to celebrate the art and writing featured in the respective publications.