Blueprint photo/ staff photog Dominique Gillis
By Annika Walker, Online Editor-in-Chief
// Acalanes High School’s student newspaper Blueprint garnered multiple awards from four different regional and national contests including Dean S. Lesher, Quill and Scroll, California Press Women’s Association, and American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA).
The top honor was an award for “Most Outstanding High School Newspaper for 2015-2016” from the American Scholastic Press Association, according to Blueprint advisor Larry Freeman.
“The American Scholastic Most Outstanding Newspaper of the Year Award is an unexpected thrill, capped by the Lesher Overall Excellence Award. It’s not so much that [we] seek to garner awards for the prestige,” Freeman said. “When [we] get other people to see what amazing youth journalists can do compared to their peers in the country or locally, it’s reassuring that what we do here at Blueprint is continuing to work at a really high level.”
Additionally, Quill and Scroll recognized Blueprint with three national awards for Cover/Front Page Design, Sports Writing, and News Writing.
Senior cartoonist Siena Kuan received the national Quill and Scroll award for her cover design for Editor-in-Chief Lia White’s story “Behind Closed Doors: The Reality of Student Mental Illness.”
“I was pretty surprised when I won because I knew a lot of people liked the cover, but I also know that there are a lot of great artists out there, so I didn’t actually expect to win anything,” Kuan said.
In addition, Blueprint amassed twelve of the twenty-four Lesher High School Journalism Awards given at an awards ceremony on April 29 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek. Students from eight high schools around the county – including Acalanes, California High, Dougherty Valley, Hercules High, Making Waves Academy, Monte Vista, Northgate, and San Ramon Valley – submitted journalism pieces, photos, and cartoons in December of 2015 in hopes of winning in one or more of the various contests.
Included in Blueprint’s collection of awards is the award for Overall Excellence, which the newspaper received from the Dean S. Lesher Awards.
“The overall awards that we won from ASPA and Lesher, especially the award for most outstanding newspaper in the nation, were really an amazing feeling because we work really hard and put so much effort into this paper,” White said. “To be awarded by these national award programs is something that is really special and I think it speaks to the talent of the entire class.”
In addition, Lesher gave awards to Blueprint for Best News Writing, Best Editorial/Opinion Writing, Best Column, Best Feature or Profile, Best Sports Writing, Best Photography, Best Art/Cartooning, and Overall Excellence.
Juniors Julian O’Donnell, Noah Prozan, and Ryan Summerlin won the first-place Lesher award for Best Column for their story “Star Wars Characters Parallel Sports Personalities.”
“I was surprised about this award because we just wrote it for fun. We didn’t think much of it and then received an award for it which is pretty cool,” O’Donnell said.
Blueprint also walked away from California Press Women’s 2016 High School Communication Awards with honors in three different categories: Sports Story, News Story, and Feature Story.
To Blueprint advisor Marshall Grodin, these awards recognize the accomplishments of the journalism program at Acalanes.
“I’m proud that high school journalism still means something here at Acalanes,” Grodin said. “I think that the high school journalist is one of the unsung heroes of academics in high school age kids.”
Award winners for Lesher are Jin Heo for first place in Best News Writing, Lia White for second place in Best Editorial/Opinion Writing, Ryan Summerlin, Noah Prozan, and Julian O’Donnell for first place in Best Column, Sierra Fang-Horvath for first place and Lia White for second place in Best Feature or Profile, Sam Stack for third place in Best Sports Writing, Annika Walker for first place and Rachel Lom for second place in Best Photography, and Raea Gragg for first place and Siena Kuan for second and third place in Best Art/Cartooning.
Award winners for Quill and Scroll are Clara Kobashigawa for News Writing, Siena Kuan for Cover/Front Page Design, and Julian O’Donnell for Sports Writing.
Award winners for California Press Women’s are Lia White for second place in Feature Writing, Bennett Baker for honorable mention in News Writing, Sam Stack for first place in Sports Writing, and Sierra Fang-Horvath for second place for Feature Writing.
Award winners for ASPA are Blueprint for Most Outstanding for 2015-2016 and for first place in Special Merit and Blueprint‘s artists for Most Outstanding Section.