Campus News Society & Culture

UGA announces winners of statewide high school journalism awards

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia recognized several high school journalism students across the state at the 2013 Georgia Scholastic Press Association Awards Ceremony, held April 25 at the Classic Center in Athens. More than 100 awards were given out recognizing outstanding work in high school newspapers, magazines, news websites, yearbooks, literary magazines and broadcast news shows.

“The work these high school journalists produced is not only the best in the state, but some of the best scholastic journalism in the nation,” said Joe Dennis, director of GSPA and director of diversity and high school outreach at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “It’s a testament to the commitment their advisers have to journalism, and the recognition by their school’s administrators of the academic benefits high school journalism offers to the student body.”

During the ceremony, Isabelle Taft of Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta was named the 2013 Georgia Champion Journalist, the highest honor given to a senior scholastic journalist. As editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, The Southerner, Taft tackled some of the toughest stories in the state-Occupy Atlanta, the CRCT cheating scandal, the evolution of No Child Left Behind and local crime. And she did this while becoming valedictorian, creating a Democratic Youth organization at her high school, and training for three half marathons.

Dave Winter, adviser of The Southerner, wrote that she is the “bravest, most courageous, most resourceful, most talented and most accomplished” of the reporters he’s taught. Kate Carter, Winter’s co-adviser, wrote that Isabelle’s strong and diverse portfolio “shows just how far ahead she is of the vast majority of even professional journalists.”

Jenny Alpaugh, of Clarke Central High School in Athens, was named the 2013 Junior Champion Journalist, the top honor for a junior scholastic journalist. As managing editor of her school’s newsmagazine, Odyssey, Alpaugh’s work has included sports writing, copy editing and several hard-hitting news stories about the school’s zero tolerance weapons policy and the return of pep rallies to the school. She helped to present a session on the importance of team building among a publication’s staff at the Southern Interscholastic Press Association convention and attended the Carolina Journalism Institute to enhance her design skills.

Debbie Smelley, adviser of The Prowler at Starr’s Mill High School in Fayetteville was named Adviser of the Year, and Mindee Adamson, principal of Druid Hills High School in Atlanta was named Administrator of the Year for her support of her school’s student newspaper, The Spotlight.

The All-Georgia, the top award given in the state, is awarded to the publications that performed best overall in their category. The Southerner of Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta was named the All-Georgia newspaper, and the Grady News Network of Henry W. Grady High School was named the All-Georgia broadcast. Odyssey of Clarke Central High School was named the All-Georgia newsmagazine, and Odyssey Online of Clarke Central was named the All-Georgia news website. Threshold: Sigma of North Forsyth High School in Cumming was named the All-Georgia literary magazine and the All-Georgia yearbook award was given to The Pride of Starr’s Mill High School in Fayetteville.

Along with more than 100 individual awards presented, General Excellence awards were given to the top publications in the state. Judges, made up of journalism professionals and University of Georgia journalism faculty, designated the following publications General Excellence:

Newspaper: Druid Hills High School’s The Spotlight; Henry W. Grady High School’s The Southerner; Lee County High School’s The Panoptic; and Starr’s Mill High School’s The Prowler.

Newsmagazine: Clarke Central High School’s Odyssey; and Decatur High School’s Carpe Diem.

News Website: Clarke Central High School’s Odyssey Online; and Lee County High School’s Panoptic Online.

Broadcast News: Henry W. Grady High School’s Grady News Network.

Yearbook: Dawson County High School’s Tiger; North Forsyth High School’s Carpe Diem; Providence Christian Academy’s Cornerstone; Rome High School’s Capitolium; Starr’s Mill High School’s The Pride; and Woodward Academy’s Phoenix.

Literary Magazine: Clarke Central High School’s Illiad; North Forsyth High School’s Threshold:Sigma; and Roswell High School’s Helicon.

For a complete list of awards, see

Georgia Scholastic Press Association
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 103 GSPA member schools for the 2012-13 school year, representing some 3,000 students across the state. For more information, see

UGA Grady College
Established in 1915, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers an undergraduate major in journalism with an emphasis in magazine journalism, public affairs journalism, publication management or visual journalism. Additional majors include digital and broadcast journalism, mass media arts, advertising and public relations. 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, see or follow the Grady College on Facebook and @UGAGrady on Twitter.