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Feather print edition wins SJVSPA Sweepstakes

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[/media-credit] For the first time in campus history, The Feather is the Sweepstakes winner at the San Joaquin Valley Scholastic Press Association’s (SJVSPA) annual publications competition at Fresno State, March 1.

Campus paper best high school paper from Bakersfield to Lodi

For the first time in campus history, the Feather print edition was named the Sweepstakes winner of the San Joaquin Valley Scholastic Press Association’s (SJVSPA) annual publications competition, March 1, 2008.

“With publications competitions becoming more competitive, it’s hard to imagine a small high school competing against the large school programs,” Greg Stobbe, adviser, said. “But on this day, The Feather staff proved that size does not always matter.”

The Mass Communication and Journalism Departments at California State University, Fresno, annually sponsor the event. The contest consisted of three components: mail-in competition, critique of fall semester’s newspapers and on-the-spot contests.

“I am very excited that we won Sweepstakes; it’s like we were named grand champions,” senior Ryan Martens, Layout and Design editor, said, “but I really was disappointed because we didn’t get All-Valley. Last year we won the award without putting an emphasis on it and so I kind of expected it. But at the same time our December copy did not get proofed and that really worried me.”

Fifteen schools and 145 students participated in the workshops and competition. The Fresno State competition began in 1931 and the previous winners alternated between five other campuses: Golden West High, Tokay High, Bear Creek High, Bullard High and Stagg High.

“It was so gratifying to win the competition,” Alyssa Boss, ’10, said. “It seems for each staff member that Stobbe pushes them harder than everyone else, but we really appreciate him doing so. I entered the features competition and ended up winning third place.”

I can’t even describe how happy I was when Rice announced we won Sweepstakes, especially for the first time in campus history. I’m glad our staff could win it for Stobbe, after all these years. It’s reassuring go into the final portion of the Pacemaker competition, having the hardcopy win, when we spend the majority of our time working on the online edition. — Editor-in-chief Mary Kneefel

Although the staff only received two awards in the first 20 minutes of the presentation, the second half honored nine other reporters. Gary Rice, Executive Director of the SJVSPA and journalism professor, presented senior Mary Kneefel, Editor-in-chief, with the three-foot trophy after he announced The Feather wins SJVSPA Sweepstakes.

“I can’t even describe how happy I was when Rice announced we won Sweepstakes, especially for the first time in campus history,” Kneefel said. “I’m glad our staff could win it for Stobbe, after all these years. It’s reassuring go into the final portion of the Pacemaker competition, having the hardcopy win, when we spend the majority of our time working on the online edition.”

For four of the last five years, the Feather has won the SJVSPA Small Schools Division and named an All-Valley Newspaper. This campus earned the distinction of Sweepstakes winner, while beating all schools, regardless of size or division, between Stockton and Bakersfield.

The staff’s score of 121 narrowly beat out Golden West by one point and last year’s winner, Stagg High, by nine points.

Frustration leads to Sweepstakes win

This campus came closest to a Sweepstakes win in 2000, but fell a few points shy. This year, The Feather was in a similar situation, but experienced the opposite outcome due to sophomore Sydney Ray’s first place rookie feature award.

“While trying to e-mail my paper in for judgment, the computer had a glitch and my saved paper was completely erased,” Ray said. “By this time I was in tears, but the judge offered me a chance to rewrite the article during lunch. At first I refused, but the idea of being a quitter convinced me to go ahead and redo the assignment.”

“I threw together the quotes, transitions and stories from what I could remember in 30 minutes,” Ray said. “Then I went home, feeling as though I had no chance of winning. But, a few hours later I received a call from Stobbe saying that I won first place in the Rookie Features division. Thankfully my friends and Stobbe encouraged me to rewrite it.”

Stobbe believes Ray’s decision to persevere compensated for the past shortcomings to clinch first place overall.

“For me, I am most proud of those students who competed in the on-the-spot contests,” Stobbe said. “It was there that they showed how far they have advanced during the school year. The Feather had 11 individual winners and it was so gratifying to watch them succeed under pressure.”

“I am so proud of the editors of this paper,” Stobbe said. “Mary and Jenn (Sherfield, ’08, Senior editor) work tirelessly to generate ideas, train staff and provide leadership. The 2007-08 staff is the real deal.”

The Feather staff continues to pursue excellence in high school journalism as one of the top 10 finalists for the Pacemaker competition sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association. The winners will be announced, April 19.

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