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[Record story - 12/3/00]

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Pilot's Log Takes It All

They were two steps out the door, thinking that another school from California claimed the most coveted prize of the National Scholastic Press Association’s Best in Show contest when the announcer’s words reverberated through the auditorium. "And for the first time ever, from the state of New Jersey, The Pilot’s Log wins first place."

This prize was not just another small pat on the back, it named the Pilot’s Log as one of four best high school newspapers in the country. "We were in total shock. We were up against papers printed in full color, with $35,000 budgets and schools that had 3,000 students. This shows how innovative stories and creative layouts pay off," stated Kristen M., co-editor-in-chief. Not only was this achievement an honor for Hasbrouck Heights Jr. Sr. High School, it is the first time that any school in New Jersey attained this high status.

From November 16th to 19th, Kristen M, Laura G., co-editor-in-chief, and their advisor Lora Geftic, attended the Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Kansas City, Missouri. Over 3,000 students from all corners of the United States and Germany came together to attend more than 200 intensive and comprehensive work sessions on broadcasting, web-publishing, journalism, and yearbook production. These sessions were manned by such professionals as Scott Ladd, the news project designer and illustrator for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Richard Holden, executive director of the Dow-Jones Newspaper Fund, Julie Knapp, associate director for Arizona State University’s student media department, Robin Morris, reporter for the Atlanta Journal and Matthew Schofield, senior writer for the Kansas City Star. For these two students, it was a journalism odyssey.

"This is the third national convention the Pilot’s Log has attended. Each year we gain immeasurable knowledge about how to improve our paper. The convention is the spark that fires our imaginations," stated Geftic. "I never dreamed, however, that we would come home the big winner."

On November 18th, that’s exactly what happened. These NSPA awards first began in 1927 and the winners of the Best in Show contest are applauded for their excellence in content and coverage, quality of writing and reporting, in-depth reporting, leadership on the editorial pages, design, photography, art and graphics. By winning this award, the Pilot’s Log has proved that its publications is well worth being a part of. "I think it was a real eye-opener to all the students and teachers in our school. Everyone applauded our last paper, but no one guessed that is would do so well," stated Kristen M. "The day we came back, the school was full of congratulations. It was a great feeling. Winning this contest has really fueled our fire for the next paper."

As all the prospective journalists left the convention, after learning important lessons and receiving high praises, the words of H.L. Hall, JEA President echoed in their ears. "You are the generation that will keep the heart of scholastic journalism beating steadily into the 21st century."


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