The Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) has awarded Achona the Gold Medal rating (933 out of 1000 points), along with an All-Columbian Honors rating for Visual Elements. The Gold Medal rating is the highest rating for the CSPA critique of digital newspapers and must total 800 points or higher.
The CSPA judge commended the staff for its innovation, diversity of coverage and visual elements. However, the judge recommended the inclusion of editorials, columns, reader comments, reader ratings and opinion polls.
The Golden Veins section, written by the Creative Writing Class, which is scheduled in the same set and room as Honors Journalism, received compliments on its poems and short stories. Art work by Achona staffers KeTaira Phillips and Mikela Mollanazar also received praise, as did the PoeTweets section.
Closing comments from the judge appear below.
“There is a wonderful diversity in topics covered and strong coverage of all facets of life at the Academy of the Holy Names. Achona encompasses the visual and verbal memories of their school community digitally.
“This staff is obviously not afraid to think outside the box in terms of design, and coverage, both written and multimedia. When the reader goes to the digital Achona, he may intend to pause for a little while but he becomes intrigued by the diversified coverage and excellent multimedia items, and soon realizes he has spent over an hour just going from one section of the website to another watching videos, looking at photos, checking out the story packages that are so wonderfully interwoven throughout the site and reading excellent stories.”
“Congratulations on publishing an excellent digital newspaper and on your Gold Medalist and All Columbian honors.”
Co-Editors Tori Litschgi and Li Stalder and adviser Mrs. Edie LeBas received training at the Poynter Institute High School Journalism Workshop in St. Petersburg this past summer through a grant from the Ganmet Foundation and Channel 10 News. Co-Editor Caroline de Quesada has innovated social networking through Instagrams. She and Stalder serve as Multimedia News Club presidents, providing training and support for students interested in publishing stories and multimedia. Mrs. LeBas has attended two summers of college educators workshops at Poynter designed for college jounalism professors who are revamping their curriculum to the “new journalism.”
Achona editors will attend an evening “reunion” workshop at Poynter on January 16 for more training and exchange of ideas with other high school online newspaper editors.