The awards were for individual writing, reporting, photography and design work published between March 2017 and February 2018. Entries were judged by a panel consisting of high school and college faculty, and professional and college journalists.
Leading the way were a pair of seniors. Editor-in-chief Maddie Brockmyre earned nine individual honors, including six first-place awards. Photo editor Julia Drabcyzk earned eight individual awards, including four firsts.
C.E. Sikkenga, who has advised the Blade since 2000, described Brockmyre as “ridiculously talented” and one of the most accomplished students he’s seen in that time.
“She’s the type that always wants to take on the big, meaningful project and always does it well,” Sikkenga said. “We’ve got kids from our program working at the highest level of professional journalism and in leadership roles at college, and she’s going to be right there with them if that’s the direction she wants to go. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say there’s never been a kid go through the Blade room that’s done more, better. I think she could walk into any newsroom in America and hold her own right now.”
Judges agreed. The evaluator who critiqued the Blade as a whole described Brockmyre’s front page designs as “beautiful,” “clean” and “professional,” and also singled out feature packages she led, including those on vaping and on sharing the stories of overlooked students.
The critique also had high praise for Drabcyzk, singling out her work as “among the best high school portraits and fashion pieces I have seen,” and noting her fashion coverage as being an example of “how high school fashion coverage should be done,” with artful images and meaningful interviews and commentary “that is specific to your community and school.”
According to Sikkenga, the individual awards represent some of the most impressive totals he can remember, and are especially meaningful because of the topics the staff has taken on in the past year.
“This group of students has really built on the Blade’s tradition of focusing not only on doing quality work but also tackling topics that are meaningful to readers and challenge our community,” he said. “The winning entries covered everything from homelessness in our district and community to profiling students from non-traditional backgrounds, to more traditional topics like vaping and texting and driving. I’m really proud and pleased at the way these kids have used their leadership to try to make a difference, and it’s great to see them rewarded for that effort.”
A list of awards:
Front Page/Newsmagazine Style — first place: Maddie Brockmyre and Julia Drabcyzk
Story Package — first place: Maddie Brockmyre
Editorial Opinion Page/Spread — first place: Caleb Berko, Morgan Womack and Kiley Williams
Feature Page/Spread — first place: Maddie Brockmyre and Julia Drabcyzk
In-Depth Feature — first place: Maddie Brockmyre, Morgan Dreese, Maddie Monroe and Caitlin Shampine
Personality Profile — first place: Maddie Brockmyre and Alexis VanSingel
Environmental, Health or Science — first place: Kelly Klouw
Sports Columnist — first place: Sam Woiteshek
Sports Action Photo — first place: Maddie Fogg
Sports Feature Photo — first place: Julia Drabcyzk
Photo Story — first place: Julia Drabcyzk
Front Page/Newsmagazine Style — second place: Maddie Brockmyre and Grace Glessner
Feature Page/Spread — second place: Maddie Brockmyre and Alexis VanSingel
Personal Narrative — second place: anonymous
Photo Story — second place: Julia Drabcyzk
Information Graphic — third place: Maddie Brockmyre
Editorial — third place: staff
Environmental, Health or Science — third place: Jaime Cowman
Environmental Portrait — third place: Julia Drabcyzk
Editorial Opinion Page/Spread — honorable mention: Julia Drabcyzk
Online Breaking News Coverage — honorable mention: Carlos Rappleye
News Story — honorable mention: Alexis VanSingel
News Analysis — honorable mention: Caitlyn Cooling
Pro/Con Editorial Columns — honorable mention: Chris Hudson and Jack Reus
Informative Feature — honorable mention: Maddie Brockmyre and Alexis VanSingel
Human Interest Feature — honorable mention: Alexis VanSingel
Personality Profile — honorable mention: Morgan Womack
Diversity Coverage — honorable mention: Carlos Rappleye
Alternative Story Form — honorable mention: Chris Hudson
Sports News Story — honorable mention: Sam Woiteshek
Environmental Portrait — honorable mention: Julia Drabczyk