nspalogoNational Scholastic Press Association

After three months of scrutiny, The National Scholastic Press Association named The Feather and two other high school newspapers as its three Online Pacemakers for 2006.

Thousands of students, advisers and finalists from around the United States gathered in San Francisco’s Hilton and Towers Convention Center to honor high school journalists to celebrate newspaper and yearbook excellence on April 22.

With about 4,500 students packed into a ballroom the size of a football field, the emcee had trouble getting the attention of an excitable crowd. Instead of waiting for silence, he spoke over the noise.

After three months of scrutiny, The National Scholastic Press Association named The Feather and two other high school newspapers as its three Online Pacemakers for 2006. All three publications had just been given the high school equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize.

Editor-in-chief, Brianna Stobbe, was on hand to accept the award as she was attending NSPA workshops and seminars during the weekend.

“While I was thrilled that we were named a finalist,” Stobbe said. “There was a part of me that hoped we were amongst the leaders in the country this year. Our staff has been passionately focused the last couple of years, striving for excellence, and it was exhilarating to hear that someone else thought so too.”

During the months of February through April, The Feather Online competed with other online high school newspapers across the United States. Online entries were judged on content, design, navigation, writing, editing, graphics and interactivity.

NSPA partners with students across the world

Since 1927, the NSPA has been partnering with high schools to improve their staffs, advisers and publications. According to their website, the NSPA “provides journalism education services to students, teachers, media advisers and others throughout the United States and in other countries.”

The Feather is a member of the NSPA and adheres to their standards and those of professional journalists.

“Publications class has always been and still is about the personal commitment of all the students both who have come before this group and who will be here in the years to come,” adviser Greg Stobbe said. “And while this is an important step for our newspaper, there is so much yet to be done to improve our writing and scope of coverage.”

Adviser Stobbe has led The Feather for 10 years and is the father of Brianna who has been a staff member for three years.

“What is really amazing is that The Feather staff produced a nationally recognized online paper with only 23 students,” Stobbe said. “Many of the other publications have journalism programs with up to 300 students. We do not even have 300 students in our high school.”

The NSPA does not have designations for small or large schools. All school compete together for this award. The NSPA provides journalism education training programs and provides media critique and recognition programs for members across the United States and beyond.

Campus reaction

David Martens, campus director of technology, believes the The Feather’s website contains areas for further development.

?The Pacemaker is an incredible honor especially with a small staff and part time adviser,? Martens, said. ?But we can improve on site design, layout, and easier navigation which will be achieved through a team effort of new ideas.?

This is the first time The Feather Online edition has been awarded a Pacemaker. Current webmaster, junior Matthew Shattuck, was quick to recognize others who played a role in the paper?s design.

?When I first began working on The Feather Online website in the summer of ?05, I knew nothing about programming a dynamic website,? Shattuck said. ?Luckily Doug DenHartog (’05 website designer) had done a lot of the heavy lifting like setting up most of the administration system and database. And finally, if it had not of been for all the help I received from David Martens, I would not have survived this job. But I know I have a lot still to do.?

Two other finalists were awarded in the top three include The Paly Voice, from Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, California, and Silver Chips from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland.

More information about the finalists and the competition can be found at the NSPA website, StudentPress.org: NSPA winners