Staffers claim second national award in 2016
The Feather officially completed its last award ceremony for the 2015-16 school year, April 16. In recent years, the team has taken the cross country journey to New York for the CSPA awards, but has not received a prestigious NSPA Pacemaker nomination since 2013.
The trend was broken as the National Scholastic Press Association named The Feather a Pacemaker finalist on March 9. In anticipation, 16 students packed their bags to attend the NSPA/JEA conference at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, April 14-16.
During the awards ceremony on April 16, The Feather was one of the few schools to win the coveted Pacemaker award for outstanding online newspapers over the course of a school year. Only 10 online newspapers, including The Feather, with 1,500 in enrollment or less were awarded out of the nation; nearly 3,900 journalism and yearbook students were in attendance.
Four newspapers resided in California won with The Feather being the only central Valley online newspaper represented. The Feather has won six Pacemaker awards since 2006. According to the NSPA, 172 online newspapers applied for the Pacemaker competition.
Greg Stobbe, adviser of The Feather, expressed his gratitude for winning yet another Pacemaker after a three-year hiatus, mostly due to The Feather’s old server degenerating and finally collapsing in August 2015.
“This is the granddaddy of all high school journalism awards,” Stobbe said. “The last time we received NSPA recognition was in 2013, and this year our goal was to bring home the Pacemaker award, which is the highest honor any high school journalism team could expect to win. Many say it is the equivalent of a high school newspaper winning the Pulitzer Prize. This year’s student staff is truly the best and they deserve this kind of recognition for all their hard work.”
First year Feather journalism student Phillip Christopher joined the rest of the 15 staff students on their trip to the NSPA conference. Christopher, who publishes “World of Sports” weekly on the website, expressed his gratitude to be a part of a Pacemaker winning website.
“My favorite part of the trip was hearing The Feather’s name called at the awards ceremony,” Christopher said. “I thought it was awesome to finally be assured all the hard work had paid off. It gives me motivation to hopefully receive the honor again next year.”
During the trip, the team was able to build concrete and trusting relationships with one another and also learn more about the world of journalism from multiple key speakers at the conference. Though often the trip called for late-night published articles and tight-packed crowds of students, they were able to endure obstacles and benefit from their hard work. Skyler Lee, ‘16, reflected on this post-win and appreciated each staff member who contributed.
“I think the LA trip was a time for bonding for the staff,” Lee said. “We really had to work together to complete all of our work and rely upon one another. In the end we knew that whether or not The Feather won an award depended upon each one of us and what we were willing to give for the team. We worked together, we won together and we celebrated together.”
After the win, The Feather staff loaded their cars to head back to Fresno, but not without a stop for dinner at Yamamoto’s, a teppan-yaki restaurant in Valencia. After filling their stomachs, each car celebrated the win with jubilant songs.
Senior Emily Ladd, who has remained on The Feather staff throughout all of high school, enjoyed not only the celebratory sing-along ride back to Fresno, but also the close bond she made with fellow staff members and advisers, and has made over the past four years.
“The whole trip was amazing, but I think my favorite part was just bonding with the team,” Ladd said. “I’ve been on staff for four years, and being able to spend time with the other staff and advisers like this is such a great experience. We drove home singing together and laughing and just celebrating each other’s hard work. It’s such a blessing from God to be able to work on staff and learn so much while still having a great time. It can be stressful, but it’s totally worth it.”
Joshua Carter, ‘16, serves as The Feather’s Co-Editor-in-Chief, sharing the title with Rees Roggenstein and Chloe Mueller. Through arduous endeavors, Carter was content to see his many years contributing to The Feather finally pay off and end on a good note.
“After an entire year of strenuous work, this convention really pulled all the loose ends together,” Carter said. “For me, this gave closure to this class which I have given so much time and effort to. Especially with the honors which The Feather has received from the CSPA, JEA and NSPA, my year has come to a close. I am thankful for all of the staff members who also gave their time and effort into this. I am hopeful that what we worked for this year, will continue in the years to come as a journalism team which seeks excellence in everything they do.”
Most staff members left the NSPA conference with their heads held high and an eye towards the future of The Feather Online, but some also left the conference bidding their final goodbyes, including senior Mueller. Mueller, who has attended the past three CSPA conferences in New York, had the opportunity to attend her first and last NSPA conference.
“This trip was an excellent way for the team to end the year,” Mueller said. “It was my first time traveling to an NSPA convention and competing for the Pacemaker, and to win the award was an exciting feat. I think the final ceremony really solidified the relationship between the staff, and felt like the final Feather event for the seniors. The whole thing was bittersweet, but has only left the Feather more prepared for the years to follow.”
In other news
Recently, when The Feather traveled to New York for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association awards in mid March, it was also named a 2016 Gold Crown winner, the CSPA’s highest honor to high school papers. The Feather has now earned six Gold Crowns in the past seven years.
In total, only five online newspapers in the United States hold both a Gold Crown and a Pacemaker award for the 2015-2016 school year: The Chronicle, Southwest Shadow, Odyssey Newsmagazine, The Kirkwood Call, and The Feather Online. The Feather Online has earned this distinction three times (2010, 2013 and now 2016).
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