The Lawrentian Awarded
The Lawrentian, Lawrenceville’s quarterly alumni magazine, recently received a 2021 District II Accolades Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
The Lawrentian, Lawrenceville’s quarterly alumni magazine, recently received a 2021 District II Accolades Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Its fall 2019 story, titled “They Can’t Guard You, Garry!,” a profile of alumnus Garry D. Howard ’77 written by The Lawrentian Editor Sean Ramsden, was honored with a Grand Gold award, one of CASE’s highest accolades in profile writing.
On winning this award, his very first from CASE, Ramsden said, “It reflects really well on our magazine, our school, and on Howard, so I feel good about that.”
According to Ramsden, “CASE is the gold standard in terms of educational communications” and “tends to [hold] some of the toughest competitions.” The organization hosts a variety of prestigious award programs with the aim of recognizing the “best practices in advancement and outstanding people who contribute to the growth and understanding of the advancement profession.” This year, The Lawrentian was one of just two Grand Gold recipients in its category.
Ramsden first learned of Howard’s story from Assistant Head of School Mary Kate Barnes H’59 ’77 P’11 ’13 ’19, whose husband was a classmate of Howard’s. At the time, Howard was about to be inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame, so Ramsden decided to speak to him about the intersection of race and politics in his career as a sports journalist. As they spoke, however, they dove deeper into Howard’s story, detailing his upbringing in the Bronx and time at Lawrenceville.
According to Ramsden, only a dozen African-American students attended Lawrenceville when Howard first enrolled. However, he persevered with the support of the administration and his mother; Ramsden felt most moved by how at the end of his first year, Howard began to hold the firm belief that “this place will set me free.” Yet from Lawrenceville and beyond, Howard faced numerous challenges due to his race; even with his accomplishments and academic background, he was denied many opportunities across the journalism industry.
Initially, Ramsden was hesitant to cover Howard’s story. “It’s always tricky, as a writer, to write about other writers, especially one as accomplished as [Howard], because you know they’ll be judging you,” he said. He especially felt out of place discussing racial issues as a white man. However, Howard quickly put him at ease by praising Ramsden’s earlier profile of Director of Athletics Tripp Welborne H’58 P’21 ’24 and telling him, “I trust you on this one.”
Another motivating factor behind Ramsden’s decision to write Howard’s profile was the greater impact the article would have on the Lawrenceville community.
Ramsden additionally wanted to bring Howard’s experience as a black student at the then predominantly white Lawrenceville to light. “I wanted to tell something truthful,” said Ramsden, noting that The Lawrentian “didn’t hide” from the discrimination that Howard faced throughout his time at the school.
In addition, Ramsden also wished to reaffirm Howard’s belief in Lawrenceville’s long-standing support of its students. “We really want everyone here to succeed, no matter where you’re coming from,” he said. “If you’re in Lawrenceville, you’re here because you belong here, you’ve earned your place, and we want you to do well and will support you.”
Moving forward, he hopes his articles continue to inspire readers to bring forward stories of their own, which helps him highlight the impact Lawrenceville has on its students.
“I like the way it gets people thinking,” said Ramsden on The Lawrentian. “People begin to share their Lawrenceville experience, and I really can’t do what I do without people bringing those to me.”