Briarcliff High School’s Literary Magazine and Adviser Receive the ESSPA 2021 Awards

Briarcliff English Teacher Karen McCarthy, won the Adviser of the Year Award.

Briars & Ivy, the Briarcliff High School literary arts magazine, received the Best Overall Literary Magazine Award and its adviser, Briarcliff English Teacher Karen McCarthy, won the Adviser of the Year Award.

In addition, alumnus Finn Torres won second place in the category of Best Illustration for his piece, “Iza’s Menagerie,” and sophomore Rylie Roth won third place in the category of Best Photograph for her photograph, “I’ve Got the Whole World in My Hand.”

The prestigious honors came from Empire State School Press Association (ESSPA) headquartered at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

The Best Overall Literary Magazine Award recognizes a literary magazine that “includes photography, illustrations and creative writing in the forms of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, or most of these elements. Layout and design are also used to determine the best overall magazine.”

According to the judges, the Briars & Ivy magazine was “strong, engaging and had powerful imagery and did a great job of mirroring the tone and content of the written work.”

The inaugural Sherri Taylor Adviser of the Year Award recognizes an adviser who demonstrates exemplary character, leadership and commitment to young people and their development as students with a passion for journalism. Ms. McCarthy was surprised to receive the award and said it is something she will “cherish as recognition for being an important contributor to the development of young people.”

Briars & Ivy announced as the Best Overall Literary Magazine

Ms. McCarthy said she strives to motivate her students to go beyond their perceived limitations and push their creative storytelling abilities so that they can inspire, entertain and educate their audience.

“I am humbled to be able to collaborate with such talented individuals and it brings me great satisfaction to be able to steward their development and growth,” she said.

Below is Ms. McCarthy’s full speech:

First, I’d like to thank the Empire State School Press Association for this prestigious honor. This is a great surprise to me and something I will cherish as recognition for being an important contributor to the development of young people.  I would also like to thank my colleagues for their tremendous support and belief in me as an educator and student advisor. Most of all, I would like to recognize the amazing students I work with every day on Briars & Ivy. It is because of their work and devotion to the publication that I am even considered for this award. 

Inspiring students to be storytellers is tremendously important. Storytelling is fundamental to the human experience. Stories are timeless and inform us about our world and ourselves. They connect us as families, communities, and cultures. Stories create empathy and allow us to understand the experiences of others who may not be like ourselves. And stories are practical. They teach students to be strong communicators, to be creative, and to be leaders. And stories can be shared across mediums, be it through literature, film, dance, music, art, or technology. I think most importantly, stories can open our hearts and minds, and great stories stay with us throughout our lives.

As the faculty advisor for Briars & Ivy, I strive to motivate my students to go beyond their perceived limitations and push their creative storytelling abilities so that they can inspire, entertain, and educate their audience. I am humbled to be able to collaborate with such talented individuals and it brings me great satisfaction to be able to steward their development and growth.

Again, I would like to thank the Association and all my colleagues for their belief in my commitment to the development of young minds. I am truly honored to receive this tremendous award.

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