Macjournalism receives triple Star Awards, including two Gold, with five Tops in Texas winners

Despite new socially distanced Spring ILPC format, Knight, Shield staffs and individuals still win big


Risa Darlington-Horta

TRUE COLORS: Austin resident and climate activist Woodstock James stands above the crowd at the Austin Climate Strike holding a sign that reads, “Climate change is real.” Disappointed by the lack of action from the Texas legislature in the face of the impending climate crisis, James hoped to spur lawmakers to action by joining the strike. “It’s a huge issue that we should all be paying attention to right now,” he said. “The people who need to listen to us are being paid not to, and it’s very unfortunate.” Reporting by Samantha Powers. Photo by Risa Darlington-Horta.

Kristen Tibbetts, co-editor in chief

The 2020 ILPC spring journalism conference was memorable for two reasons. First, instead of being held on the University of Texas campus accompanied by journalism sessions and the UIL State Academic contests, this year’s ILPC awards announcements were entirely online. Secondly, this year marked a historic win count for Macjournalism. The Shield newspaper and Knight yearbook combined to earn five Tops in Texas awards and 98 5A Individual Achievement Awards. Additionally, all three publications (Shield, Shield Online and the Knight) won Star Awards for the second year in a row. This year, however, both The Shield and Shield Online won Gold Stars and The Knight won a Bronze Star.

It was the first time in MacJournalism history that the program has won two Gold Star Awards in the same calendar year. In order to be considered for a Star Award, the newspaper, yearbook and website had to earn a Distinguished Merit rating, the association’s highest.

“To have something like UIL validate our year of hard work and stress means so much to all of us,” Shield visuals editor Bella Russo said. “To be a part of the newspaper and Macjournalism means the world to me, and I’m so glad we get to share these awards for the work we’ve done together.”

Not only did Russo play a significant role in the success of the newspaper, but she also won 15 5A Individual Achievement Awards for her writing, photography and design, breaking her record of 11 from last year. However, when asked about her achievements, Russo was quick to bring attention back to the entire staff.

“Not only is everyone incredibly talented and driven, but they have been the most fun people to work with, which definitely helps when we are staying at school till midnight to finish the paper on time,” she said. “Everyone on staff is a team player, and I think that shows in the quality and variety of our content, because we could not have done this without the efforts of the whole staff and the support and leadership of our editors and adviser.”

To be a part of the newspaper and Macjournalism means the world to me, and I’m so glad we get to share these awards for the work we’ve done together.

— Bella Russo

Out of all of the Individual Achievement Awards, the first-place winners from each UIL classification are entered into competition with each other for the Tops in Texas awards. Since McCallum is a 5A school, the five Macjournalism Tops in Texas winners essentially had to win twice: once against students from other 5A schools and then again against the five other first-place winners.

One of these winners was Knight photographer Risa Darlington-Horta, who won for her photo “True Colors” taken at the Austin Climate Coalition rally in September. Despite the fast-paced environment of the rally and the fact that weather conditions forced her to continually change her camera settings, “True Colors” and other photos from the same event were recognized as first place winners.

“I had been eyeing this one individual for most of [the rally] because of how passionate he was and because I really liked his clothes,” Darlington-Horta said. “I finally decided to snap this shot because he started to get a lot more radical and I loved his pose. Overall this protest was an amazing experience.”

In all, adviser Dave Winter is incredibly proud of his staff and the contest result.

“We have much to celebrate,” he said. “You all are historic.”

However, Winter forgot to include himself in this praise. He was awarded the Edith Fox King Award, an honor given to journalism advisers who have significantly impacted journalism education in the state. Additionally, Winter entered his work into the adviser writing and photography categories, winning second place for both Objective Writing and Photography.

The complete list of Macjournalism winners is below with hyperlinks to their winning entries.


Gold Star, The Shield Online

Gold Star, The Shield

Bronze Star, The Knight


Olivia Capochiano, print entertainment review

Risa Darlington-Horta, print general news photo

Anna McClellan, print cartoon

Madelynn Niles, print entertainment photo

Sophie Ryland, yearbook personality profile



First Place

Anna Bausman, online sports feature photo

Olivia Capochiano, print entertainment review

Risa Darlington-Horta, online entertainment photo

Risa Darlington-Horta, print general news photo

Ellen Fox, print portrait

Anna McClellan, print cartoon

Anna McClellan and Evelyn Griffin, print news page design

Caleb Melville, online feature photo or online feature photo

Caleb Melville, online photo portfolio

Madelynn Niles, print entertainment photo

Madelynn Niles, Grace Nugent, Samantha Powers, Bella Russo and Kristen Tibbetts, print headlines

Grace Nugent, print sports column

Lindsey Plotkin and Hannah Zuniga, current yearbook feature spread

Samantha Powers, Stella Shenkman, Alysa Spiro, Risa Darlington-Horta and Elisha Scott, online photo slideshow

Bella Russo, online headlines

Bella Russo, print photo story

Sophie Ryland, yearbook personality profile story

Angus Sewell McCann, print entertainment feature

Alysa Spiro, online personal column

Kristen Tibbetts, print feature page design


Second Place

Delaney Carter, Abby Robison and Luci Borowski, yearbook blended coverage spread

Ian Clennan, print entertainment photo

Coco Clouse, Gabi Williams and Kien Johnson, yearbook infographic

Sarah Crow, current yearbook people section spread

Alex Dowd, print news feature

Alex Dowd, print sports feature story

Ellen Fox and Julia Kay Smith, print sports news story

Gregory James, online editorial writing

Rylie Jones and Jacqueline McLellan, yearbook ad design

Ella Jane Larrimer and Rylie Jones, yearbook index spread

Ale Luera, Mira MacLaurin, Elly Schottman, online multimedia package

Mira MacLaurin, yearbook captions

Anna McClellan, print sports column

Anna McClellan, print sports feature photo

Grace Nugent, online infographic/sidebar

Lindsey Plotkin, Delaney Carter and Amarissa Lozano, yearbook sports spread

Bella Russo, yearbook sports action photo

Mia Terminella, print entertainment page design

Mia Terminella, print page one news magazine design

Kristen Tibbetts, print feature writing

Kristen Tibbetts, print entertainment review

Kristen Tibbetts, print sports page design


Third Place

Greg Alvarez, yearbook academic photo

Josie Bradsby, Sydney Denmon, Alex Gold, Jayden Mason, Daniela Morrow, Lydia Reedy, Bella Russo, Regan Sims, Sarah Slaten, Zoe Tanner and Ron Wolleben, online multimedia package

Ian Clennan, current yearbook photo portfolio

Grayson Cruise, Elisha Scott, Julia Kay Smith, Kelsey Tasch, Kristen Tibbetts, Steven Tibbetts, Grace Van Gorder, print in-depth news/feature package

Gregory James, yearbook sports feature photo

Rylie Jones, yearbook theme selection and development

Madelynn Niles, print student art

Grace Nugent, print sports page design

Grace Nugent, print sports feature photo

Lindsey Plotkin, current yearbook student life focused spread

Lindsey Plotkin, current yearbook story

Bella Russo, online news feature

Bella Russo, print photo portfolio

Angus Sewell McCann, current yearbook club/organization focused spread

Julia Kay Smith, online entertainment review

Kennedy Weatherby, online photo portfolio


Fourth Place

Madelynn Niles, print entertainment page design


Honorable Mention

Kate Boyle, online news writing

Grayson Cruise, Jazzabelle Davishines, Samantha Powers, Bella Russo, print in-depth news/feature package

Risa Darlington-Horta, print photo portfolio

Risa Darlington-Horta, Dylan Hildebrandt, Zoe Hocker, Alex Martinez, Samantha Powers, Elisha Scott, Stella Shenkman, Alysa Spiro, online in-depth news/feature package

Alex Dowd, print personal opinion column

Olive Embry, print sports action photo

Molly Gardner and Townes Jones, yearbook feature spread

Molly Gardner and Townes Jones, yearbook people section spread

Lucy Marco, print feature page design

Anna McClellan, print infographic sidebar

Jacqueline McLellan and Karel Tinkler, yearbook headlines

Caleb Melville, online sports action photo

Madelynn Niles, print feature writing

Madelynn Niles, print entertainment review

Madelynn Niles, print entertainment feature

Grace Nugent, print news page design

Grace Nugent, page one news magazine design

Samantha Powers, print general news photo

Samantha Powers, online news feature

Bella Russo, print cartoon

Bella Russo, print feature photo

Bella Russo, print news writing

Bella Russo, online general news photo

Bella Russo, online student artwork/cartoon or online student artwork/cartoon

Bella Russo and Selena De Jesus, online feature writing

Bella Russo and Scarlett Houser, online entertainment review

Gabby Sherwood, online general news photo

Alysa Spiro and Angus Sewell McCann, print photo story

Mia Terminella, yearbook club/organization feature story

Janssen Transier, print sports feature story

Janssen Transier, online portrait

Kristen Tibbetts, online editorial writing

Kristen Tibbetts, online personal opinion column

Steven Tibbetts, online sports news story

Kennedy Weatherby, online sports feature story

Ella White, online feature photo

Annabel Winter, yearbook portrait



Edith Fox King Award – David Winter



David Winter, second place objective writing

David Winter, second place feature photography


2019-2020 ILPC RATINGS

Yearbook Distinguished Merit

Print Newspaper Distinguished Merit

Online Newspaper Distinguished Merit