Paly Journalism caps historic year at convention

By December 11, 2023No Comments

The Palo Alto High School journalism department blazed new trails and set new records this year, including an all-time best showing in CSPA’s Gold Crown competition and a slew of individual awards at the JEA/NSPA national journalism convention.

In the fall, Columbia Scholastic Press Association announced their Gold Crown finalists, and Paly was on the board a record eight times. Anthro, Campanile, C Magazine, Madrono, Paly Voice, Proof, Verde and Viking all were named finalists. Three of the eight, Campanile, C Mag and Voice, were awarded Gold Crowns, while the others took home Silver Crowns.

“Receiving a gold crown was really exciting, but also very motivating,” senior C Mag editor-in-chief Evie Coulson said. “We’ve worked so hard on all of our issues, and to see that be recognized by the CSPA was a fulfilling reward.”

The performance was historic in terms of the number of crowns bestowed upon one program. By contrast, only one other school in the nation (St. Mark’s Academy in Dallas) had as many as five nominations. Another 18 schools had multiple publications nominated, but none more than three times. Paly’s eight nominations were only bested by three STATES: Texas (40 total nominations) and Florida (13 total nominations), in addition to California (33).

At the fall JEA/NSPA convention in St. Louis, two publications were announced as Pacemaker winners: Campanile and Verde.

“It was a very tumultuous time in general for those editors to navigate, said 2022-2023 Verde co-editor-in-chief Yash Shetty. “It was our first year back from being online for Covid, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a historically bad fire season. To see our hard work rewarded for all we did on those issues …. It was clear that they (the 2021-2022 editors) gave each edition their all. The reward now is a nice metric of their hard work and success.”

Paly’s reporters weren’t interested in resting on their autumn laurels, however. Spring brought the JEA/NSPA national convention, where seven publications placed in “Best of Show.” Ink (9th place, literary magazine), Campanile (9th place newspaper), Verde (first place news magazine) all finished well in their respective categories. And Paly nearly swept the Specialty Magazine category, with C Mag (2nd), Viking (4th), Proof (6th) and Anthro (7th) all placing.

The convention’s individual student media contest was also robust territory for Paly students, with a total of 20 students receiving awards. “Superior” medals went to three sophomores: Cherianne Yoon in Editorial Cartooning, Sarina Grewal in Lit Mag Layout, and Shreyas Shashi in Sports Writing.

Going to the convention and winning a superior award for editorial cartooning was genuinely a surprise and the highlight of the school year for me,” Yoon said. “It’s motivated me to expand more as an artist and gave me confidence in my abilities that I didn’t have before.”

Nine students brought home “Excellence” awards: Anna Feng (News writing), Olivia Atkinson (Editorial writing), Grace Gormley (Feature writing), Evelyn Zhang (Editing), Justin Gu (Newspaper layout), Jonathan Chen (Press law), Arati Periyannan (Yearbook theme), and the team of Asa Deggeller & Sarp Kendirli (Broadcast package).

The best part of the experience was competing with such a diverse group of journalists from all over the nation, all in the same room,” Gormley said. “To have won an award for my writing was simply the cherry on top.”

Another eight students received honorable mentions: Sophia Yang (Review writing), Nadia Soberg (Commentary), Alessandra Chandler (Yearbook sports), Scarlett Cummings (Yearbook student life), Cayden Gu (Sports action photography), Aneesh Tiwari (Broadcast news story), and the team of Vincent Wong & Henry Leins (Broadcast sports story).

“It’s important to me because I feel it not only validates my journalistic skills thus far, but also my efforts as a student journalist as a whole,” Cummings said.

Finally, senior yearbook editor-in-chief and Proof editor Arati Periyannan was named second place in California’s Journalist of the Year competition, after submitting her portfolio. She received $600 for JEANC’s Arnetta Garcin Award.

“For me, journalism is so much more than just something I do in school to get credit,” Periyannan said. “It’s my creative outlet and it’s created a new family. Being able to share and get recognition for it makes me really excited.”

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