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The Pen Wins Gold Crown Award

Peninsula logo.100• Peninsula High campus newspaper is awarded prestious award from CSPA.

Up on the Hill, the Peninsula High newspaper, The Pen, has won  the prestigious  Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Gold Crown award for the second straight year.
The CSPA is a student press organization of Columbia University, whose goal is to unite and educate student journalists from all over the nation as well as those overseas.
This association has the following principles: “Make clear expression the standard for success, maintain the student media for students, conduct contests and offer awards to make student media better than they were and to recognize that journalism can be a means towards broader understanding of society and people.”
 With these fundamentals, the association has been contributing to student media and honoring outstanding student publications over  its 93-year history.
The Pen has five sections: news, opinion, focus, student life and sports. Each section has multiple writers and at most two editors. The writers and editors stay in close contact throughout the process of preparing each issue so both writers and editors stay updated with the state of articles as well as the status of interviews.
In The Pen newsroom, the walls are covered with the many CSPA awards the newspaper has won over the years. In earning the latest award, The Pen was up against 15 other finalists.
With more than 40 members on staff, this group of talented people has proven their effort and time spent on the monthly issues.
Said journalism adviser Jaymee Johnson:  “I love my staff. I love the vibrant and wonderful people that I get to work with each day. I love that the newsroom always feels like home.
“I love that warmth and kindness and inclusivity that radiates from H-52 because those are the type of people that fill it. I love that I get to work with students who find it important to share stories and uncover truths to keep others honest.
“I love that I leave the newsroom inspired by young people that are willing to push the envelope in pursuit of meaningful student journalism.”
Johnson has been the adviser for the Peninsula High newspaper  and yearbook programs for four years. She is working to become a Master Journalism Educator (MJE).
The Pen has won two Gold Crown awards in the four years Johnson has been adviser.
Every weekday, Johnson sees her staff working to the bone through their designated periods and even through lunch to make every issue the best it can be.
 The process starts with the staff pitching, or brainstorming, story ideas for the upcoming issue, giving editors a choice of what topics to assign to their writers.
Once the decisions are final, the writers are up and running to complete their articles, contacting people involved or related to their topic and writing the articles.
Meanwhile, the graphics team creates the visuals requested by the editors. The team creates the graphics from scratch with inspiration from apps such as Pinterest. Working with the team, the editors then create layouts for their respective pages.
After the articles are turned in and edited, the day of finalizing the issue (past-up) comes around. During past-up day, the entire staff comes together to finish up the paper, with writers waiting for their articles to get re-edited and editors creating layouts and making last minute changes.
Regarding the CSPA award,  editor-in-chief Zoe Willoughby, said, “I was pretty proud that [The Pen] was able to be part of such a select group of publications across the country. It was such an honor to get this award.”
Willoughby is one of the three editors-in-chief on staff, and has been on staff since her freshman year. She started out as a writer, worked her way up to being an editor, and is now part of the leadership team in charge of organizing and designing the look of the entire paper.
These dedicated staff members stay in close contact with Johnson, and they “must manage their staff accordingly, demonstrating leadership skills, maturity, compassion and high standards,” according to the The Pen staff application.
“In my four years of advising The Pen, I have been able to travel to multiple journalism conferences with my staffs, and I have had the incredible opportunity to meet advisers from all over the nation,” Johnson said.
 “In speaking with them (other advisers) and learning their processes I have learned what an amazing program it is that I get to be a part of.”
    With the school year soon coming to a close and one term of The Pen closing, the future of this publication is looking bright. The number of individuals on staff is increasing, and there are more journalists on staff hoping to contribute to the student press and dedicating their time to every detail of the issue.
    “[This publication] consumes my days and nights, but I love that The Pen gives me a sense of purpose,” Willoughby said. “I love that there is so many great and amazingly talented people in a great environment, and it feels so rewarding to see our physical product published and being read. It is especially such an honor to be recognized, showing that what we do matters.”

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