Athens, Ga. – More than 300 awards recognizing excellence in high school broadcast, yearbook, newspaper and literary magazine journalism were distributed at the 2007 Georgia Scholastic Press Association (GSPA) Awards ceremony on Friday, April 27, at the University of Georgia.
More than 450 high school students and their advisers attended the annual conference which was keynoted by Atlanta broadcast journalist Randy Travis. Travis is an award-winning investigative reporter for Fox 5 News’ I-team and an alumnus of UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Travis shared that the first journalism award he ever won was a GSPA Award and that he still has that award even today. He also encouraged the journalism students to practice their writing and either watch or read the news. “You have a duty to keep an eye on what’s going on,” said Travis.
Among the awards presented were those recognizing Administrator of the Year, First-year Adviser, Adviser of the Year and the Georgia Champion Student Journalist.
Regina Montgomery, principal of Pebblebrook High School, Mableton, was named 2007 GSPA Administrator of the Year because of her unwavering support of the scholastic press. Montgomery reversed a controversial decision made by the school’s previous principal to cancel all journalism classes and the BrookSpeak newspaper after administration felt a front page story cast Pebblebrook in a negative way. Montgomery was lauded for her decision to restore journalism at Pebblebrook and was identified as a model of how principals should treat the student press.
First-Year Adviser honors went to Sarah Gibson, adviser of The Speculator newspaper at Chattahoochee High School, Alpharetta. Gibson offered her staff ideas on how to improve the newspaper, encouraged them to enter GSPA contests and provided them with educational opportunities to increase their skills and journalism knowledge during her first year. Students noted how Gibson stays late after school or comes in early to help the staff meet its deadlines. The result is a much improved Speculator that features eye-catching layout and photographs, and well-written and edited stories.
The 2007 GSPA Adviser of the Year was David Ragsdale of Clarke Central High School, Athens. Ragsdale advises the school’s newsmagazine Odyssey and its literary magazine Iliad. He revived scholastic journalism at the school after the newspaper had been dormant for three years. Both the newsmagazine and literary magazine have won state, regional and national recognition. Ragsdale’s students point to his demand for excellence in journalistic writing, his connection with students, and his ability to build a sense of community in the classroom as factors in their success.
Rebecca Gittelson, a student at Atlanta’s Grady High School, was named the 2007 Georgia Champion Journalist, the highest honor given to a GSPA student journalist. A reporter with Grady’s newspaper The Southerner, Gittelson tackled and wrote about tough subjects. She interviewed Jimmy Carter, covered Supreme Court legislation about physician-assisted suicide, and reported on developments in the proposed U.S. Airways-Delta merger in Atlanta.
Among the 300 awards recognizing excellence, General Excellence awards were given to the top entries in each category. Schools and publications receiving awards include:
Yearbook A- Elkins Pointe Middle School (Roswell), The Echo
Yearbook AA-East Hall High School (Gainesville), Valkyrie
Yearbook AAA-Monroe Area High School (Monroe), Hurricane
Yearbook AAAA-Rome High School (Rome), Capitolium
Yearbook AAAA-Woodward Academy (Atlanta), Phoenix
Yearbook AAAAA-Northview High School (Duluth), Mnemosyne
Yearbook All Georgia-Rome High School (Rome), Capitolium
Literary Magazine AA-Grady High School (Atlanta), The Unmasking
Literary Magazine AAA-Cass High School (Cartersville), Human Era (spring edition)
Literary Magazine AAAA-Clarke Central High School (Athens), Iliad
Literary Magazine AAAAA-Chattahoochee High School (Alpharetta), Chrysalis
Literary Magazine Best Layout-Sprayberry High School (Marietta), Vox Humana
Literary Magazine All Georgia-Clarke Central High School (Athens), Iliad
Broadcast-Grady High School (Atlanta), GameTime
Broadcast-Mill Creek High School (Hoschton), Hawk’s Vision
Newspaper A-Southwest Georgia Academy (Damascus), The Warrior’s Word
Newspaper AAA-Grady High School (Atlanta), The Southerner
Newspaper AAA-Central High School (Macon), The Central Post
Newspaper AAAA-Pebblebrook High School (Mableton), BrookSpeak
Newspaper AAAA-Starr’s Mill High School (Fayetteville), The Prowler
Newspaper AAAAA-Northview High School (Duluth), The Messenger
Newspaper AAAAA-Peachtree Ridge High School (Suwanee), The Roar
Newsmagazine- Clarke Central High School (Athens), Odyssey
Newsmagzine-Decatur High School (Decatur), Carpe Diem
Newspaper All Georgia-Northview High School (Duluth), The Messenger
For a complete list of awards, visit www.gspa.uga.edu.
Organized in 1928 by UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Georgia Scholastic Press Association assists Georgia high school media programs and students by encouraging the production of quality publications and broadcast programs through instruction and contests. There are 151 GSPA member publications for the 2006-07 school year, representing some 3,500 students across the state.
The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers seven undergraduate majors including advertising, broadcast news, magazines, newspapers, public relations, publication management and telecommunication arts. The college offers two graduate degrees, and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, visit www.grady.uga.edu.