Journalism program earns top spots in contests


Verde Magazine, Palo Alto High School’s news and features magazine, won first place in the newsmagazine category of the National Scholastic Press Association’s Best of Show award, announced April 2023 at the organization’s national convention in San Francisco, earning a trophy. The Best of Show competition recognizes 10 publications across the nation, in five categories, with the first-place winner in each category taking the top honor. “The Best of Show competition has a rich tradition of honoring outstanding student media represented at the National High School Journalism Convention,” according to a statement on the NSPA website. (Photo: Daniel Garepis-Holland)

In an impressive showcase, Palo Alto High School’s journalism program emerged with many awards from this year’s contest season, bringing a new wave of motivation and energy into the school’s publications. 

Notable whole-staff achievements included Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown awards, announced on March 23, where C Magazine, The Campanile and The Paly Voice won Gold Crowns and Anthro, Madrono, [proof], Verde and Viking Magazine won Silver Crowns. 

Verde Magazine won first place in the newsmagazine category of the National Scholastic Press Association’s Best of Show award, announced April 2023 at the organization’s national convention in San Francisco. In Specialty Magazine, C Magazine placed second, Viking placed fourth, [proof] placed sixth and Anthro placed seventh, while in Newspaper, The Campanile placed ninth. Individual honors were also highlighted for staff members from InFocus and The Campanile. These awards are also listed on the awards page on the Paly MAC website.

In other significant publication-wide awards, The Campanile and Verde Magazine won National Student Press Association Pacemakers in fall 2022. 

C Magazine, Madrono and Viking adviser Brian Wilson said he was pleased with the performance of all the publications and the recent JEA/NSPA National Convention hosted in San Francisco helped encourage more students to submit their work for awards. 

“We usually do pretty well, and so sometimes when these things come out, we’re not shocked,” Wilson said. “The fact that this one [the national convention] was in San Francisco, gave us an opportunity to enter more students, because we had more students go to the convention, because it was closer.”

More than 20 students from Paly competed in the Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests on-site emerging with top awards. Entries are completed in two hours and are rated Honorable Mention, Excellent or Superior by judges.

According to The Campanile News and Opinion Editor junior Olivia Atkinson, who won Excellent in Editorial Writing, she was pleasantly surprised with the number of awards the Paly journalism program was able to win and attributes the success to the hard work of the students.

“I would say that because this is my first year on a journalism publication, I was surprised [by] how well we did,” Atkinson said. “I’m really proud of us, not only from [The] Campanile, but from the entire journalism team and how much we’re able to achieve and how the standard of our work is so high and that it shows.”

One thing that made this year’s award season different was the variety of Paly publications that were entered into contests, which Wilson said allowed more students the chance to be recognized for their work. 

“We have introduced a few other publications that maybe haven’t been as established in past years, so having entries from some of the Incubator publications has been great,” Wilson said. “Yearbook has been slowly but steadily sort of building a journalistic reputation and has done pretty well in terms of stronger showings this year than we have in the past, and same with Infocus. Madrono and InFocus are very similar in terms of programs that are getting in on the ground floor and being able to be competitors and some of these things, and that has been really cool to see.” 

Despite this year’s award season coming to an end, Atkinson said she hopes the impressive showcase of journalistic talent will push students to work harder and create higher quality work.

“Getting these awards has definitely motivated me to ensure that all of our Campy [The Campanile] issues are at a really high standard, and I definitely think that it’s in our reach to do more and I would love for us to achieve more,” Atkinson said. “I would hope that we try to branch out a bit more not only in our stories, but also design, and try to do more unique spreads.” 

According to Wilson, the best part of the competitions is being able to see the students excited over their accomplishments. 

“I think it’s always way more exciting for the individual students for these things, because it’s like, ‘I won this thing, and I get this certificate, and this is awesome,’” Wilson said. “I think the real meaning is for the students, and so being able to do that [win the awards] has been really cool.”

Individual Awards from the JEA NSMC include:

Anna Feng: Excellent in Newswriting
Olivia Atkinson: Excellent in Editorial Writing
Grace Gormley: Excellent in Feature Writing
Shreyas Shashi: Superior in Sports Writing
Sophia Yang: Honorable Mention in Review Writing
Cherianne Yoon: Superior in Editorial Cartooning
Nadia Soberg: Honorable Mention in Commentary Writing
Evelyn Zhang: Excellent in News Editing/Headline/Current Events
Justin Gu: Excellent in Newspaper Layout
Jonathan Chen: Excellent in Press Law and Ethics
Alessandra Chandler: Honorable Mention in Yearbook Copy/Caption: Sports
Scarlett Cummings: Honorable Mention in Yearbook Copy/Caption: Student Life
Arati Periyannan: Second in California Journalist of the Year, Excellent in Yearbook Layout: Theme
Sarina Grewal: Superior in Literary Magazine: Layout
Cayden Gu: Honorable Mention in Sports Action Photography
Aneesh Tiwari: Honorable mention in Broadcast News Story
Henry Leins: Honorable Mention in Broadcast Sports Story, Second Place in Broadcast News Story
Vincent Wong: Honorable Mention in Broadcast Sports Story
Asa Deggeller: Excellent in Broadcast Package
Sarp Kendirli: Excellent in Broadcast Package
Nikki Heydarpour & Eliza Roth: Seventh Place in Broadcast Feature Story

Additional individual awards can be found on the JEA Annual Contest and on the National Foundation of Press Women websites.