HILLSDALE, N.J. -- Pascack Valley High School's student-run newspaper, The Smoke Signal, recently took home 20 awards at the Garden State Scholastic Press Association's annual conference, held at Rutgers University.
In addition to earning 19 awards based on specific articles and photos -- including five first-place commendations -- the paper was named New Jersey's Distinguished Journalism program in Division B, for mid-size schools.
Here are the awards The Smoke Signal gathered:
- Feature Writing first place, second lace and three honorable mentions, for Robyn Roznitsky's "'Her name is Juli': PV students reconnect teacher and Peruvian woman after 38 years," Jamie Ryu's "The journey from Karoline to Kax," Evan Jones' "Hillsdale woman advocates for new amendments to Joan's Law," Kayla Barry's "Ready, aim ... shoot! PV senior demonstrates passion for archery," and Barry's "PV senior takes to the ice to showcase her talents," respectively
- Editorial Writing first place and an honorable mention, for Vanessa Rutigliano's "Lack of authenticity in PV's outside coverage: Student voices in the media do not reflect the entire student body" and "Tweets can echo"
- Opinion Writing first place, second place and two honorable mentions, for Chandni Shah's "Bring PV together by changing the mascot," Kyle Comito's "PV should stay true to its Indian tradition," Comito's "New transgender policy misses the mark" and Brianna Ruback's "Summative assessments are no better than midterms"
- Photography first place and third place, for Patricia Ocelotl's "Melissa Purcell pole vaults" and Bryanna Testino's "Students partake in yoga"
- In-depth Reporting first, second and third place, for "Transgender Policy Portfolio," by Comito, Ryu, Robert Saul, Shannon Culloo and Calvin Ralph; "Virtual Day Portfolio," by Comito, Julia Fiskin, Ryu, Lauren Martinez, Sara Cadiz and Maddie Brookstone; and "PARCC Testing Portfolio," by Shah, Barry, Ryu and Martinez
- Sports Writing third place, for Jake Aferiat's "An unlikely duo making noise for PV hockey"
- Two News Writing honorable mentions, for Ryu's "New transgender policy passes at Board of Education meeting" and Comito's "Superintendent sets record straight on School nickname debate"
"What makes our journalists' accomplishment especially impressive is that there is a point system for all of the individual awards a school accumulates, and the Distinguished Journalism award is handed out to the school that amasses the most points," said William Rawson, faculty adviser to The Smoke Signal.
"We pulled this off despite being completely precluded from one award -- Overall Excellence -- because our student publication is primarily digital and the judging in this category only accommodates traditional print publications," he said
At Pascack Valley High School, the school newspaper is a co-curricular organization led by students and assisted by a faculty adviser.
"Students produce content and manage the publication outside of their regular class and extracurricular schedules, which makes earning 20 awards at the state level particularly impressive," Rawson added.