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The Feather

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Feather earns NSPA Top 100 billing


Best scholastic journalism publications honored during centennial celebration

[/media-credit] The Feather online earn a distinguished Pacemaker Top 100 from National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), May 20, 2021.

Launching its centennial celebration on May 20, 2021, the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) honored The Feather Online as one of the NSPA Top 100 scholastic publications the association has judged during the last 100 years.

Despite only having started to compete nationally for NSPA Pacemaker awards in 2005, Fresno Christian High’s online newspaper is a regular fixture in the NSPA scholastic competitions, and now a legacy publication as a Pacemaker 100 recipient.

The NSPA Top 100 is the culmination of years of publications excellence and in addition to any recognition The Feather has earned, including its most recent 2020 Online Pacemaker award.

Led by co-advisers Kori James and Greg Stobbe, The Feather Online continues to impress judges on a national scale despite a school size of roughly 200 students. The Feather competes in national competitions regardless of school size, state or division.

Stobbe has advised The Feather since 1996 and taught English at Fresno Christian for 22 years. The Feather began as a print edition in 1982, ceasing print operations in 2010. He moved The Feather online in 2001, where it continues to be updated daily officially as The Feather Online.

“Since our first article published online in October 2001,” adviser Stobbe said, “The Feather staff dreamt of creating an online newspaper which utilizes a multimedia online platform to cover the issues that reflect, represent, inform, educate and entertain the Fresno Christian student body and beyond.”

The Feather locks in online journalism legacy

[/media-credit] During his three years on The Feather, Vijay Stephen, ‘21, served as co-editor-in-chief with Addison Schultz during their junior year, earning an Online Pacemaker.

Since 1927, there have been only 2,700 Pacemaker awards presented to high school and middle school publications. An additional 2,300 Pacemaker finalists have been awarded over the years. What makes this so distinctive is the scale of this recognition. For perspective, there are about 24,000 high schools in the nation. A large portion of those publishes a yearbook; many schools also publish a newspaper or other media as well. Truly, a Pacemaker is an elite achievement.

“Through campus and community reporting,” Stobbe continued, “they pursue difficult topics, challenge their communities, and demonstrate what it’s like to be a student on their campus. I believe they consistently do that and pursue excellence in the process. I’m a proud adviser who has watched students for 16 years pursue multimedia journalism in a rapidly changing world. Plus, kudos to Kori James for joining me during the fall of 2013. Her media and site design expertise is amazing and so appreciated.”

Founded in 1921, NSPA has trained and honored student journalists through conventions, workshops and awards.

According to the NSPA website, “First presented in 1927 as the Pace-Maker, the Pacemaker awards are now recognized as the top prizes in scholastic journalism. They honor the very best scholastic broadcasts, literary arts magazines, newspapers/newsmagazines, online publications, specialty magazines and yearbooks.”

While there are 3892 high schools in California, only 18 schools have publications recognized for this honor. Of those schools, only three online newspapers were honored: El Estoque Online from Monte Vista High School in Cupertino, The Paly Voice from Palo Alto High School, and The Feather Online.

Without The Feather members who came before us, this would have not been feasible. Students would have flagged under the enormous expectations set for us by our advisers. Luckily, our job was easier in that all we had to do was maintain this outstanding legacy created by the previous staffers, not try to create one from thin air. — Senior Vijay Stephen, former Feather editor-in-chief

During his three years on The Feather, Vijay Stephen, ‘21, served as the editor-in-chief alongside Addison Schultz, ‘21, during the 2020-2021 school year. After graduating from Fresno Christian, Stephen plans to attend the University of Utah and major in nursing.

“The thing I remember the most about my entire time on The Feather was not necessarily a specific memory, but more of a distinct feeling of dedication from its leaders,” Stephen said. “I remember an awareness of the passion that the previous editors, advisers Stobbe and James, and IT director Robert Hyatt held in making The Feather and its students the best possible. Without The Feather members who came before us, this would have not been feasible. Students would have flagged under the enormous expectations set for us by our advisers. Luckily, our job was easier in that all we had to do was maintain this outstanding legacy created by the previous staffers, not try to create one from thin air.”

[/media-credit] While The Feather staff usually has over 30 staffers, during Covid-19 the staff list dropped to 12 students. Adviser Greg Stobbe, right, has led The Feather since 1996.

Competing nationally since 2005, The Feather has earned a total of seven NSPA Online Pacemakers with three additional Pacemaker Finalist honors.

“This honor is a testimony and legacy to the hundreds of students and many editors over the last 16 years who have dedicated countless hours to carry the program by shouldering criticism, encouraging teammates, and leading by example,” Stobbe said. “Because the student editors believe in The Feather Online, they foster a can-do environment in the lab, exuding excellence and putting in the work; they are the example for everyone else to follow year after year.”

The NSPA advances scholastic journalism and media by connecting advisers, students and professionals through national events and competitions. In addition,  the organization creates and curates content that sets ethical, academic criteria and standards to meet professional guidelines, inspire students for excellence, and enhance the value of journalism. They also provide tools, resources, and critiques to improve both student and adviser’s skills.

Scholastic journalism influence over the years

Longtime scholastic and collegiate award-winning adviser and later Jostens, Inc. senior marketing manager, Gary Lundren now serves as NSPA’s associate director.

“The Pacemaker really represents the best of the best and it is appropriate that we recognize the rich tradition this award has in scholastic journalism as part of our centennial celebration,” Lundgren said on the NSPA website.

The Pacemaker 100 represents a one-time snapshot of the top 100 publications during the NSPA’s 100-year history. Each Pacemaker finalist was awarded five points, and each Pacemaker earned 10 points. The results were tabulated in May 2021.

“It was fun to reflect on the history of the award and to recognize the publications during the past century with a rich Pacemaker history — this is a remarkable achievement,” Lundgren said.

[/media-credit] Editors, designers, and advisers alike join in celebrating the launch of the new Feather website in the fall of 2015.

Recognizing the impact that legacy plays in earning this recognition, adviser James started at The Feather without publications experience.

“Each year we start over, “James said. “Some years it’s truly from scratch and a bit daunting. We tell our students, ‘success doesn’t breed success,’ and they stand on the shoulders of those who went before them. Many times the drive for excellence is to uphold those that worked so hard before them.”

Wearing multiple hats on campus, James also teaches history classes.

“I believe we can’t know where we are going if we have no understanding from where we came,” James said. “This program’s legacy is rich in resilience, courage and strength. It has been my greatest professional challenge with immense fulfillment and  reward.”

The Pacemaker 100 will be showcased in “Empowering Student Journalists,” a commemorative 176-page keepsake book documenting and celebrating the role of NSPA in educating, influencing and promoting the student press. “Empowering Student Journalists” will be released in the fall of 2021. More information for purchase will be available at a later date.

High school journalism building a future

Tynin Fries, former Feather editor and ‘14 alumna, attributes her journalism career to the foundation she gained while on staff under Stobbe’s leadership.

Fries, 25, currently works as a Digital Strategist at The Denver Post.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Stobbe or the Feather program,” she said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do until Stobbe showed me the power of news. I am so proud to be a part of the paper’s legacy. It’s amazing to see the work students continue to do each year. It keeps getting better and better.”

The NSPA initially announced their congratulations to the Top 100 publications programs in the United States on Twitter, May 20, 2021. Only 100 publications were combined into a single category as a prestigious NSPA Top 100.

A complete listing of the NSPA Top 100 includes 43 newspapers/news magazines, 36 yearbooks, 10 online newspapers including The Feather, 9 literary magazines, and 1 broadcast. Visit the link above, and scroll down to locate The Feather. Additionally, viewers may want to watch the NSPA Top 100 presentation in the NSPA video. The Feather’s presentation is at 5:24.

For more information, contact the NSPA headquarters via Laura Widmer, executive director, in Minneapolis, MN, at 612-200-9254. The office hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Central, Monday-Friday.

The current Feather staff would love to hear from former editors and staff and share their comments and stories on their journalism experience. Please share this article, repost, reaching out to those alumni and former Fresno Christian High students. For past Feather articles, visit its Archive section on the left menu bar.

For Feather history and background, read The Feather Online returns with new design, The Feather: Digital transformation, Pt. 1, The Feather history: Award-winning trips, Pt. 2 and Who We Are: Feather staffers, alumni, adviser shares publication’s purpose.

For more Feather articles, read Coronavirus pandemic, rise of misinformation highlight importance of media literacy, LRC instructor Kimberly DeWolf continues to assist students after 25 years. For final columns, read Senior reflection: Bryce Foshee and Senior reflection: Kyle Clem.

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  • M

    Mary BaneMay 31, 2021 at 8:53 am

    Dear current Feather staff,

    As a journalism student my senior year, some of my favorite high school memories still remain large with me.

    While I honestly never considered myself an inherently good writer, looking back, I still cannot pinpoint what exactly led me to sign up for a publications class because I am very introverted.

    However, as an adult, I realize how transformative those experiences were and recognize it’s a positive influence on my life. I am very thankful to Mr. (Greg) Stobbe who pushed me to be a better writer and, more importantly, to be a critical thinker without me even realizing it.

    I believe the biggest lesson I’ve taken away from my years with The Feather has been to ask good questions. From a journalism standpoint, asking pointed and detailed questions has helped me write a substantial article without adding meaningless fluff words.

    From a professional standpoint, asking good questions has helped me as a clinical laboratory scientist to better troubleshoot instrumentation or improve laboratory processes and procedures as a laboratory supervisor.

    Now that it is well past 10 years since I graduated, I am in the process of moving across the country and accepting a position at a worldwide technology company. I attribute a lot of positive things in my life to my four years with The Feather.

    I am so proud to have been a part of its ongoing legacy and to see how and the classes behind me have been able to accomplish so much and set a new standard in journalism.

    Best wishes,

    Mary (Kneefel) Bane

    Former Feather editor-in-chief

    Class of 2008

  • S

    Sam CrossMay 30, 2021 at 10:56 am

    To Feather staffs past, present and future,

    I had the opportunity to grow in many amazing ways during my time as a Feather staffer. As I wrote and edited challenging articles, classmates became friends and teachers became mentors. I would not be where I am today without the people who made Fresno Christian’s online newspaper what it is: The Feather Online.

    I appreciated all of the time and dedication each individual staffer contributed to each article. The staff truly became a team, when an article had photos, videos, tweets, instagrams and writing to capture the entire story.

    Stobbe, thank you for the leading the way, setting the standard, and holding me accountable. This has become an invaluable quality in the profession I am pursuing.

    I will not soon forget the names and faces of the peers who I worked with to make the The Feather worthy of this achievement. Thank you all for the investment you poured into my life.

    Thank you to the ones who went before me and after me for building and continuing a legacy of excellence in Fresno Christian’s journalism lab.

    For the best,


  • C

    Cynthia WardMay 27, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    Congratulations to all! What a well deserved award! Proud of you all! Keep up the good work!

  • B

    Beverly FosheeMay 27, 2021 at 6:41 am

    Maintaining consistent excellence is a difficult feat. Congrats to the whole Feather staff past and present, and thanks to Mr. Stobbe for sharing his passion and setting the bar high year after year.

  • A

    Addison SchultzMay 26, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    What an amazing accomplishment Feather team! I love seeing the impact that The Feather is having on the community and I know that my experience as editor-in-chief greatly shaped my high school experience. Like so many have said, it would be impossible to move forward without knowing where we’ve been, and The Feather is a consistent testament to the power of teamwork and storytelling. Thank you Feather team for continuing to seek truth, and thank you to Stobbe and Mrs. James for shaping The Feather into the vessel of change that it is today. Congratulations!!

  • K

    Kyle ClemMay 26, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    What an honor to be a part of The Feather’s legacy! Congrats to all staff members past and present. I look forward to seeing the future of The Feather!