North Sanpete students pose with the check they received for coming first in a state journalism competition. From left are Abraham Bunting, managing editor; Addie Anderson, features editor; Avery Briggs, editor in chief; Makenzy Palmer, managing editor; Hannah Ostraff, photo editor; and Megan Aldridge, arts editor.

 

NSHS gets host of awards for journalism program

 

Linda Petersen

Staff writer

6-1-2017

MT. PLEASANT—North Sanpete High School has claimed to have one of the best journalism programs in the state. Now the school has a Utah High School Future of Journalism Award to prove it.

On May 20, at an awards ceremony at the University of Utah, the NSHS program was named the best in the state in 1A to 3A schools in the Utah High School Future of Journalism Awards.

This is the first year for the Future of Journalism Awards. The program is sponsored by the Utah College Media Alliance, an organization of college newspapers in Utah, including the managers and academic advisers to the newspapers.

The contest is broken into two categories, one for 1A to 3A schools and a second for 4A and 5A schools. In prior years, NSHS participated in a Utah Valley University contest in which high schools of all sizes competed in a single group. North Sanpete did well but found it difficult to beat high schools that had a more students and significantly more resources than it did.

In the new competition, with a more level playing field, NSHS excelled in its division. Eight students placed in the top three in different categories with Nicole Burton (newswriting), Avery Briggs (sports writing), Abraham Bunting (opinion writing) and Addie Anderson (sports photography) placing first in their categories.

In newswriting, Megan Aldridge took second, and Makenzy Palmer took third. In breaking news, Addie Anderson took second. In sports writing, Hannah Ostraff took third. In opinion writing, Abraham also took third. In feature writing, Addie Anderson took third. In sports photography, Carlos Navarro took second.

N.S. Times, the newspaper produced by the journalism class, received awards for the best newspaper design. The students were also recognized for best newspaper website design.

Adviser Ben Cox started nine years ago because, he says, he “saw a need for it.”

“I wanted another format for students to get their work out there and for people to see what they’re doing,” Cox says. “It’s important for people to see the great work that is being done.”

Cox, an English teacher and counselor, had no experience in journalism so he approached Sanpete Messenger Publisher Suzanne Dean for guidance. Dean, he says, was very helpful in getting the program going.

This year, the journalism class had 21 students. Cox says the program draws in “kids who are talented and willing to sacrifice.”

That sacrifice is manifest every day.  The class is taught before school at 7:20 a.m. so the kids have to come to school early to attend.

Ad sales help pay the cost of  producing the newspaper. The sales have also help Cox and his students attend national high school journalism conferences in Boston and Orlando. The next meeting is in Dallas.

“We get instruction from the top programs, and I get to rub shoulders with other advisers. It’s very valuable,” Cox says of the experience.

Along with their trophy, NSHS received a $500 check, which Cox says will be used to do something fun with the kids.

“We like to balance work and play,” he says.

This year, eight staff members have graduated, so, as they say in sports parlance, next year will be a rebuilding year.

“I’m just grateful to be able to work with such an incredible group of students,” Cox says. “I love what we do for the school and the community.”