Banner Bold boldly releases to the public


Senior Isabella Ramos, who is Banner Bold’s editor-in-chief, said, “This is the first year since 2019 that the Banner Bold will be published physically. Therefore, this year really means a lot to us considering we were able to be a part of it. Unfortunately, 9th, 10th, and 11th graders have no prior knowledge of the Banner Bold so we hope this year’s edition will inspire students to either partake in the making of, submit to, or support the Banner Bold next year.” Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez

Alejandro Hernandez

Ventura High School’s annual literary magazine is revealed

Banner Bold is a literary magazine showcasing creative works by Ventura High School students. The magazine began distribution on May 31 at the senior lawn during lunch. It will continue to be distributed free of charge throughout the week, while supplies last. 

The magazine is student-run, meaning its entire creation process is the work of students. It is created by students of Greg Raney’s creative writing class, and Raney is Banner Bold’s advisor. Among its editorial board are senior Isabella Ramos (editor-in-chief), junior Emma Johnson (assistant editor-in-chief) and senior Mose Cook (managing editor). The rest of Banner Bold’s staff are placed into editing teams organized by category (poetry, nonfiction, fiction, art and photography, website design and publicity).

Raney said, “The main purpose [of Banner Bold] is to give students an opportunity to express themselves and provide an authentic opportunity for writing and creativity where students’ work can be shared with a real audience.”

Ramos said, “I feel a great mixture of relief and overwhelming excitement. The making of this magazine definitely wasn’t an easy one, so seeing it finally completed serves as a physical validation of our efforts. It’s like the crescendo of a long and persevering journey, a much needed climax to a closing year. I can’t wait to see the proud faces of our published creators. I think after everything, that would be the most rewarding.”

Freshman Mirella Toledano won first place in nonfiction for “Opened Eyes.” Toledano said, “I wrote ‘Opened Eyes’ to share an experience that I think not many people get to experience. Figuratively it opened my eyes to see another world. The world my parents always told me about but never got the chance to see until then.” Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez

During the fall of 2021, Banner Bold’s team determined the magazine’s theme. The theme chosen was “unbound.” Raney said, “[Unbound was chosen] through a lot of discussion and deliberation. The leadership solicited suggestions from the staff and then narrowed down the suggestions until we were ready to vote. It’s always one of the hardest decisions of the year. Students wanted an idea that captured how many of us were feeling (or wanted to feel) upon returning to school this year after distance learning.”

Banner Bold then opened itself for student work submissions, which lasted between fall 2021 and winter 2022. Roughly 200 submissions were made, but only 51 made it into the final magazine. During the submissions process, students were asked to interpret “unbound” through their preferred categories. These include nonfiction, fiction, art, poetry and photography. However, Banner Bold hopefuls did not have to follow the magazine’s prompts

Banner Bold offered prizes to selected works, including the grand prize ($300), first place ($150) and second place ($75). Each category has its own first and second place winners. Among Banner Bold’s winners are Penggao Tang (grand prize); Paola Chavez, Inman Costa, Emily Rauch, Mirella Toledano and Katie Rundle (first prizes); Sidney Cruts, Avery Kightlinger, Kayla Tafoya and Marissa Prado (second prizes). 

Ramos said, “First and second place winners are decided by their respective editing groups. The executive staff takes no part in the choosing of first and second prizes. The members of each editing group would then choose and order their top three to send forward. The grand prize is then chosen from the top piece from each category. It was chosen unanimously by a committee consisting of one member from each editing group plus the executive staff.”

On May 25, Banner Bold (presided over from left to right by senior Reid Lane and juniors Montana Wiggins and Bruce Sheldon) awarded junior Penggao Tang (pictured third from the left) with his grand prize of $300. Tang said, “Winning the grand prize was just part of the journey, the real prize was the friends made along the way.” Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez

Tang won the grand prize for his nonfiction work “Displacement Divided by Time.” He said, “I wrote ‘Displacement Divided by Time’ back in Nov. 2021. It took me about a week, although most of that time was just me trying to figure out when to begin writing. I wrote it because I wanted to be vulnerable in my writing, unbound, if you will. I couldn’t have asked for better resources than what VHS donors, teachers and faculty members have provided for me and other students. It is crazy to think about how there are people in this community who are funding these types of opportunities.” 

Approximately 500 copies of Banner Bold were printed; although many of the copies were given to Banner Bold staff and prize recipients, in addition to the class the recipients were at the moment they received their award. 

Banner Bold was funded in whole by VHS alum Michael Beeler (class of 1972). Beeler was editor-in-chief of The Cub; Banner Bold’s predecessor which ran between the 1950s and 1990s.

Beeler said, “The Cub had a major impact on my life and my years as a Hollywood journalist. I loved the idea of helping Greg [Raney] offer a similar experience to the current students of my alma mater. Greg was a classic example of teachers using their own money to support their students, inspire them, and offer a gleaming light of a brave new world. How could I not join in? I have always contributed thousands of dollars to charities, which would include the Boys and Girls Club, CAPS TV, Ventura Film Society, Ventura Botanical Gardens, etc. I think both [The Cub and Banner Bold] serve their student body well even though 50 years separate them.”

Freshman Eva Stamp, who was a part of the poetry editing team, said, “[Banner Bold] was stressful at times with trying to figure out how to layout the poetry section of the magazine. Overall it was a fun experience and I’m happy to have been a part of it. It’s exciting to read other people’s work that they put so much time and effort into and see the product of all our hard work as a class over the school year.” Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez

Ramos said, “I think the beautiful part of Banner Bold is that it can be anything the artists need it to be. Poets, writers, photographers, and artists are able to share themselves in their most vulnerable states while still feeling safe in doing so. As creators, it’s hard to feel okay taking that step since not everyone will interpret our art the same, but that’s when we have to accept that they’re not meant to. As long as Banner Bold can continue to provide a safe place for our artists, we’ve done our job.”

Raney said, “I want to express my gratitude to the staff of the magazine. They don’t always know what they’re getting into when they sign up for Creative Writing, but they worked tirelessly to give their peers a voice and a place to express themselves. I also want to thank everyone who took the risk and submitted something. I wish we could publish everything that was submitted. Finally, I hope everyone takes the time to read the magazine; you may not read it cover to cover, but please take a moment and read some selections and appreciate what your peers created and reflect on your own creative endeavors. Consider submitting to next year’s magazine.”