Following months of competition, The National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) announced that, among 159 total entries, The Feather Online qualified as a finalist along with 15 other publications in the small-school division for its Online Pacemaker Award, Feb. 28. Editors from the staff will attend the NSPA/Journalism Education Association (JEA) National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle, April 12-15.
Following months of competition, the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) announced the finalists for its Online Pacemaker Award, Feb. 28. Among the 159 total entries, The Feather Online qualified as a finalist along with 15 other publications in the small-school division.
The Pacemaker is the NSPA's highest honor to student publications and is often referred to as the Pulitzer Prize of high school journalism. Though The Feather missed out on a nomination last year, it won an Online Pacemaker in 2006, 2008 and 2010 and qualified for the award in 2007 and 2009.
"While the staff and I were initially shocked we did not qualify for a Pacemaker in 2011, the disappointment actually was the best thing to happen to the staff," Adviser Greg Stobbe said. "After experiencing the low of completing a year without the NSPA's top honor, the editors re-evaluated the front page, our multimedia output and overall quality of online articles in an effort to improve their publication. Basically, I said you can either fold up and give up or retool for next year. Thankfully, they decided on the later."
This year's contenders were separated into two categories based on school size -- fewer than 1,500 enrollment and 1,500 or greater -- with 31 finalists overall.
The Online Pacemaker finalists from California include Grizzly Gazette of Granite Hills High School, Porterville; TalonWP of The Harker School, San Jose; The Fourth Estate of Laguna Blanca School, Santa Barbara; The Foothill Dragon Press of Foothill Technology High School, Ventura; The Lancer Link of Carlsbad High School, Carlsbad; El Estoque of Monta Vista High School, Cupertino; and The Paly Voice of Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto.
Finalists will be recognized at the NSPA/Journalism Education Association (JEA) National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle, April 12-15. Editors of The Feather will attend the convention, where Adviser Greg Stobbe and Co-Editors-in-Chief Nick Avery, '12, and Mary Hierholzer, '12, will be formally speaking.
"The Pacemaker is what we have been working toward all year," Hierholzer said. "Our season of competition has been in motion since September, and the hours of work in the computer lab are finally paying off. Since we have been aiming for this for so long, it is such a relief to at least have the nomination. I am absolutely overwhelmed with joy, but our work certainly doesn't end here. Now we have to work harder than ever to earn the final prize."
"While the staff and I were initially shocked we did not qualify for a Pacemaker in 2011, the disappointment actually was the best thing to happen to the staff ... Basically, I said you can either fold up and give up or retool for next year. Thankfully, they decided on the later." --Adviser Greg Stobbe
In addition to the Pacemaker competition, The Feather annually contends for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association's (CSPA) Online Crown Award. Though results have yet to be announced, the publications staff will be travelling to New York City to attend the 88th annual Scholastic Convention, held at Columbia University, March 14-16, regardless.
"I am rapturously delighted by this nomination," Avery said. "We really upped our game this time around, and I think the nod we received from the NSPA is a reflection of that. Going into the year, I was prepared to be once again overlooked when it came to the Pacemaker. Fortunately, this seems to have given us drive, which I believe will power us through the rest of competition season. The next month will be a real challenge for us, but I know we can pull through and leave a mark on our publication's prestigious history."
The Feather received a Silver Crown in 2009 and a Gold Crown in 2010 and 2011. Additionally, in an NSPA website critique, The Feather was named All-American, the highest level of recognition, with Five Marks of Distinction, in September of 2011.
For more information on the Pacemaker Award, read the NSPA's press release. For more information on The Feather, read the March 14, 2011 article, The Feather misses Pacemaker nod, the March 21, 2011 article, The Feather takes home 2nd Gold Crown or email Stobbe.