2019 Achievement Award Winners announced

The 2019 Achievement Award winners were announced at the Spring Workshop and Awards Ceremony April 9 at the UGA Georgia Center. These awards honor everything from successful, brand-new publications to outstanding high school leadership. Congratulations to all of our winners!

Turnaround: The McIntosh Trail, McIntosh High School

The McIntosh Trail has seen three different advisers in just four years. The staff has faced many challenges that come with changing advisers, but have remained resilient and committed to seeing their publication succeed. After a year of setbacks in 2017, the staff was determined to bring their publication back to a superior standard, and they have done just that. They’ve grown their social media following, have created a brand new newsletter and are producing more content than they have in years. “We wanted the program to publish articles readers wanted to read, we wanted to see a growth in the program itself, and we wanted to overall be proud of what we were producing as a staff,” they said. “Thankfully, as editors and as a staff, we have accomplished this goal and have successfully turned our journalism program into the best it has been in years.” Congratulations to the McIntosh Trail of McIntosh High School for your hard work, determination and dedication to high quality scholastic journalism.

Anita Padgett, adviser of The Verve, and staff members react to the announcement of The VerveCast’s superior rating in the General Excellence contest.

Anita Padgett, adviser of The Verve, and staff members react to the announcement of The VerveCast’s superior rating in the General Excellence contest.

Start-up: The VerveCast, The King’s Academy

It’s no secret—journalism is going digital, and video is becoming a popular way of sharing stories. This staff of the Verve at the King’s Academy took note of the changing trend and then, took action. They created their school’s first broadcast news program, the VerveCast, and aired the first episode in just a month. By the third episode, more than half of their publication’s staff had participated in the production of at least one package.

Freedom of the Press: Katie Miiller, Calvary Day School’s The Gold Observer

The Freedom of the Press award recognizes a producer of work that demonstrated solid reporting and insight but was censored from student publication. This year’s winning piece was denied approval for publication when the subject matter did not align with the school’s views. For her piece, “Know me for me, not for my label”, the winner of the Freedom of the Press Award is Katie Miller of the Calvary Day School’s The Gold Observer.

Community Service: The Pitchfork Staff, Marietta High School

This year’s winner of the Community Service Award, The Pitchfork, celebrated an impressive milestone 90-year anniversary, and they did so by making a difference and giving back to their community. They joined with Marietta’s local history museum to plan a special event that honored the impact journalism has made on their town over the past 90 years of publication. In addition, this publication staff participated in Marietta’s annual “Most Impactful Tree Award.” They decorated a tree with ornaments filled with supplies, like chapstick, snacks and socks, for those in need. The tree was emptied within a few days, and the staff hurried to refill it with more money and supplies before the season ended. Thank you for your dedication to your community, The Pitchfork Staff from Marietta High School.

Administrator of the Year: Mr. Keith Ball, Marietta High School and Ms. Stacey Smith, McIntosh High School

GSPA honored two recipients of the Administrator of the Year Award this year.

Mr. Keith Ball, Principal of Marietta High School, jokes that he puts the ‘pal’ in principal. However, according to the Pitchfork staff, the support he has shown them is no joke. He has fought for the publication staff to have access to all of the equipment, space and support they need to succeed. Perhaps most impressively, he helped to fund a third of the staff’s trip to the National Scholastic Press Association convention as a show of support. As a result, six staff members were able to fly to Chicago, attend NSPA, and have an amazing learning experience for almost no cost. As the staff states, “It is truly a blessing to be a Blue Devil, and with Mr. Ball at the helm, it has been even better.”

The second recipient of the Administrator of the Year Award, Ms. Stacey Smith, Assistant Principal and Athletic Director of McIntosh High School, has helped the journalists at her school gain access and insight into important developments that directly impact the student body, such as the construction of a new building and sporting events. She understands the importance of the journalism program and its job of informing the public. According to the McIntosh Trail staff, she “has also gone out of her way to make sure our deadlines are respected and the news she is given is reported as soon as it is released.” Her gracious support of the program and willingness to include the staff in all things McIntosh High School gives The McIntosh Trail the resources they need to succeed.

First Year Adviser: Shanon Woolf, McIntosh High School

Adviser Shanon Woolf smiles with staff members of the McIntosh Trail.

Adviser Shanon Woolf smiles with staff members of the McIntosh Trail.

According to a letter of recommendation for the winner of this year’s First Year Advisor Award, Shanon Woolf juggles all of the crazy, hectic and time-consuming work that the job involves with “not only tenacity of spirit, but also an incredibly compassionate attitude. She has redeveloped McIntosh High School’s news publication, the McIntosh Trail, into  a multimedia force to be reckoned with. As a yearbook adviser, this year’s winner created a mentor-mentee program with the feeder middle school where her staff goes to the middle school once a month to help the students with photography, caption writing, and design. As one recommender stated, “simply put: she is an extraordinary woman.”