The students, advisers and administrators at South Pointe and Nation Ford high schools had a lot to celebrate after bringing home more than a dozen state journalism awards this week.
“It was fun to see the kids work so hard and then receive recognition for it,” said Chuck Walker, Nation Ford journalism adviser, who also was named Adviser of the Year at the S.C. Scholastic Press Association spring conference on Tuesday.
For staff members at the print and online editions of South Pointe’s publication, the awards were the result of a lot of hours of hard work.
The success of the SPIN and SPINwired staff could be attributed to talent and a “loose, comfortable work environment,” editor-in-chief Wade Hopper said.
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“I knew we had an all-star group,” he said.
SPIN ranked first among schools of 1,550 students or less in the Excellence in Scholastic Newspaper Award sweepstakes.
South Pointe journalism adviser Cindy Koon said this year was special because both the print and online publications performed so well. The students have been working hard to develop the two, and no other high school in the state is doing both print and online products at the same level as South Pointe she said.
SPIN is devoted to longer, enterprise stories, Hopper said. SPINwired is more focused on breaking news and what students want to know right away, said SPINwired editor-in-chief Holden LeCroy.
At Nation Ford, The Talon student newspaper brought home the “Most Improved” award, which Walker attributed to the hard work of editor-in-chief Julia Dooley and her staff, who have focused on a more professional look and tight editing.
“Julia has really just taken it to the next level,” Walker said.
Nation Ford Principal Beverly Bowman was named the SCSPA Albert T. Scroggins Award, which goes to a person who has made an “outstanding contribution to the field of scholastic journalism and journalism education in general.” South Pointe Principal Al Leonard won the award last year.
Koon and Walker said the support their principals have provided to their student journalists has been “exceptional.” Neither Koon nor Walker execute prior review or censorship over the student-created products – something that’s rare among high school journalism programs, they said.
While they were pleased with their awards earlier this week, Hopper said his staff had to turn their attention to their next issue, like any journalist out in the world.
“Now it’s all about the senior issue, so we’re getting back down to work,” he said.