By Dylan McDonald
// For its journalistic accomplishments, Acalanes Blueprint received 19 awards this school year from Quill and Scroll, Dean S. Lesher Foundation, California Press Women’s Association, and Project Lafayette Partners In Education (LPIE).
Quill and Scroll, an international journalism society that recognizes both individual and group achievements in scholastic journalism, received applications from 14,104 high schools in all 50 U.S. states and 44 countries. Despite the high volume of applicants, Blueprint still garnered multiple awards, three of which were Sweepstakes winners. Sweepstakes Awards go to the first place winners of each respective category.
Quill and Scroll bestowed the Sports Feature Award to senior Editors-in-Chiefs Sam Stack and Bennett Baker for their article “15-Year-Old Student Faces Felony Charges After Alleged Assault in Water Polo Game,” which provided insight to an alleged attack during a match between Acalanes and Bellarmine College Preparatory of San Jose.
“When we wrote it, we were definitely like, ‘This is one of the better stories we’ve written,’ but we didn’t think that it would be to the high standards that Quill and Scroll held us to,” Stack said.
Junior cartoonist John Gainey received the Editorial Cartoon Sweepstakes Award for his topical comic “Green Eggs and Candidates,” which satirically commented on the ambivalence regarding the recent election.
“It has the balance of both Republican and Democratic thinking in the story. If you read through the pages you will see that there are riffs and laughter going towards Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton,” Gainey said. “So, not one is outmatched by the other, making both parties equal for a laugh.”
The entire Blueprint staff received the Blue and Gold Comprehensive Visuals Award for the paper’s visual components.
Other Quill and Scroll award winners are sophomore Christine Mitroff for Editorial Cartoon, junior Claire Gallagher for Sports Photography, junior Gareth Kwok for Feature Writing, junior Clara Kobashigawa for News Writing, senior Annika Walker for Cover Photo, and senior Bennett Baker for Infographic.
The Dean S. Lesher Foundation, covering 9 high schools in Contra Costa County, also recognized Blueprint with nine awards, which were given at an awards ceremony on May 4 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.
Lesher awarded the entire Blueprint staff with the Best Website Award. Many Blueprinters feel that online is the next big step for Blueprint.
“The award for the website in particular was really great to win,” Online Editor-In-Chief Annika Walker said. “This year we put a lot of work into changing the product so that it has a lot of different features and is updated more regularly.”
The Lesher Journalist of the Year Award went to junior and Feature Editor Sierra Fang-Horvath. In addition, Fang-Horvath’s story “New Sex Education Requirements Broaden Curriculum” received the second place in the News Writing category. Fang-Horvath also received first place for Feature Writing for “Gender in Politics: Inherent Biases Affect Campaign Behavior,” a story she co-wrote with Stack.
“A lot of the things I write aren’t hard-hitting investigative reporting, it’s just sharing people’s stories, which I think is really important,” Fang-Horvath said. “It spreads empathy, knowledge, and understanding, which I think is a really important part of being a human.”
Other Lesher award winners are Kwok for third place in Best Sports Writing, Baker for second place in In-Depth Journalism, and sophomore Sarah Westergren for first place in Photography.
Lastly, the annual Project LPIE, which includes various categories such as Journalism, Community Service, and Digital Design, congratulated 180 students for participating. For the Journalism category, Project LPIE awarded Blueprint writers sophomore Lisi Burciaga for first place, Westergren for second place, sophomore Kiara Kunnes for third place, and junior Riana Buchman for honorable mention.
Blueprint will continue to strive for additional awards in the future, though advisor Larry Freeman admits he felt “pleased as punch” with this year’s awards turnout.
“What we really see awards as is not so much a glory moment, or prestige, or bragging rights. It basically gives us measurements or another set of eyes, rather like a corrective lens,” Freeman said.