Senior spotlight: Annie Lei and Rachel Ly help produce online, youth-led publication, The Blossom Magazine

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Over the summer, seniors Annie Lei and Rachel Ly joined the executive team for the recently launched project: The Blossom Magazine, a youth-led online lifestyle magazine launched by Youth4Arts (Y4A), a program that creates opportunities for teens to foster community through visual art, literature, and music, in June 2022. The Blossom Magazine asks teens to submit work related to the designated monthly theme to then be published on a bi-monthly basis. Issues are distributed in both PDF and video format. As managing editors of the magazine, Annie and Rachel said they aim to provide various platforms for students to freely share their creative ways to promote advocacy and social change. 

As the editing department manager, Rachel publishes monthly writing pieces ranging from short poems to essays. Reflecting on the importance of her work, she said, “[I believe that] teens need more of a platform to share their thoughts and stories because they’re real and can have a more rippling effect on other teens compared to adult writing.” As a result, the magazine’s main audience is “high school and undergraduate students [who are] passionate about art, music, and creative writing,” according to Founder and Editor-In-Chief Ashley Morrow.

The magazine explores a variety of subjects, including Issue 1, “Wellness,” in celebration of National Wellness Month in September and Issue 2, “Skeletons in Your Closet, ” in honor of Global Diversity Awareness Month in October. Through art and writing, adolescents express ideas about equality, sexuality, and identity. “Each issue of Blossom Magazine is centered around an important obstacle we’d like to shed light on,” Ashley said. “Our commitment to activism and advocacy that I believe makes Blossom Magazine so special and important.”

After reading Issue 1, senior Vicky Sun was captivated by the diversity of expression. “The magazine lives up to its name: Blossom. Everyone has their own unique way to “blossom” their individuality,” she said. 

The team working on The Blossom Magazine publishes over 50 pages of content each month. Annie said, “The number of submissions that we receive from students around the world is increasing each month.” Rachel said, “Your voice will be heard by someone somewhere, but you have to believe in it first.”

Annie, the outreach director, said that the organization’s mission is in line with her personal passions and inspired her to participate in the Y4A organization. “Drawing and scrapbooking have always been hobbies that I’ve enjoyed. I continue to make art because it has the ability to empower others,” she said. 

“[Rachel and Annie] are very ambitious and determined and are always looking for ways to collaborate with the rest of the team,” Ashley said. “They have both developed beautiful pieces to be presented as part of Blossom Magazine.”

Through this initiative, Annie and Rachel said they have discovered a deeper connection between themselves and their personal art. “The abstract image that is created within our collection of short stories, poems, paintings, and music, represents the voices and diverse perspectives of youth around the world,” said Annie. 

“Especially in this chaotic world we live in, everyone needs positive reinforcement from a light read in a magazine full of thoughtful writing, carefree music, and simple collages on pretty palette colors,” Rachel said. 

“Student minds are complicated by many aspects that are difficult to express,” sophomore Joyce Xie explains, “but the magazine fully captures the complexity of teen feelings.”