MacJ places second in national journalism contest

Fox, Spiro each capture three individual Clips & Clicks awards; Dietz wins first place in feature photography

Behind seven individual awards, including a first place award from photojournalism student Francesca Dietz and three awards each from Class of 2020 graduate Ellen Fox and senior Alysa Spiro, MacJournalism tied for second in the country in the inaugural National Scholastic Press Association Clips and Clicks Contest.

In its first year, the contest honors individual student work in broadcast, design, photojournalism and writing.

Schools are awarded sweepstakes points for each award on a sliding scale. A first-place award is worth 10 sweepstakes points, and a fifth place award is worth six. MacJournalism earned a total of 56 points in the spring competition, which was added to the 55 the program earned in the fall, for a total of 111 points.

Christopher Columbus High School in Miami won the overall sweepstakes award with 145 points, all of them earned in the broadcast categories.

MacJournalism tied for second with Northview High School in Johns Creek, Ga.



First place (10 points)

Francesca Dietz, “Pasta and paperwork,” Photojournalism: Feature photo

PASTA AND PAPERWORK: Kevin Dietz works at his computer while his wife Rachel Dietz gets her dinner. Kevin’s work sometimes causes him to be late for dinner. Because of the limited space, Kevin has to set up his computers in the main living area, but the Dietz family has been able to make it work! Photo by Francesca Dietz.

Second place (nine points)

Ellen Fox, Bella Russo, Alysa Spiro, “Dispel despair with gratitude/A pandemic of the black boxes,” Design: Newspaper Page Design

Alysa Spiro, “A cure for a pandemic of black boxes,” Writing: Opinion

With apologies to Ezra Pound, this all-too-common Zoom moment evokes an adaptation of his classic 1913 modernist poem, “In a Station of the Metro,” “The apparition of this lonely face stands out against a crowd of cold petals on a wet, black bough.” Illustration by Jena Weber.

Third place (eight points)

Ellen Fox, “Hope for the best,” Photojournalism: Feature photo

HOPE FOR THE BEST: Sophomore Charlotte Blackmon sings as her character, Hope, in the Urinetown production. Blackmon describes Hope as optimistic and extremely naive.“Hope is basically the ultimate ingenue,” she said. Blackmon says that she had a great time playing Hope and watching her evolve. “She goes through a huge character arc throughout the show, and I enjoyed exploring that,” Blackmon said. Blackmon said she is proud of all that the cast and crew accomplished considering the current circumstances. “I honestly think that we were able to do all that because everyone involved was so invested in the process.” Quarantine has made this production even more special for the McCallum theater students. “Being away from live theater for all those months made us grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something.” Reporting by Lucy Marco. (Ellen Fox)

Fourth place (seven points)

Ellen Fox, “Over Seven Years in the Making,” Photojournalism: Sports photo

OVER SEVEN YEARS IN THE MAKING: Coach Jim DeLine and senior Mariana Torres-DeLine embrace in a hug after finishing the archery season. “Ten years ago, we had no idea where we would be today,” Mariana said. After four years of hard work, the father-daughter duo were finally able to lead the McCallum team to nationals. DeLine said “There is no way to predict ‘hope’ from the perspective of resolve and steadfast courage. Nationals gave us everything to build on and nothing to be ashamed of.” McCallum finished tied for eighth among Texas high school teams that competed at nationals. The team scored 3,156 points and shot 88 bullseyes to place 167th out of 247 high school teams across the nation. Reporting by Sophie Leung-Lieu. (Ellen Fox)

Fifth place (six points)

Grace Nugent, “Vandament enjoys home-run season,” Writing: Sports story

Alysa Spiro, “An unreliable reflection,” Writing: Editorial

Because this year’s STAAR test can’t possibly serve the purpose its intended to serve, the Texas Education Agency should do the right thing and cancel it. (Ellen Fox)


Second place (nine points)

Evie Barnard and Kate Boyle, “Ms. Troy leaves McCallum over safety concerns,” Writing: News story

After 14 years of teaching, 12 in Austin ISD and less than two at Mac, Cassandra Troy is leaving Mac and Texas to move to Colorado, citing health concerns over COVID and the district’s response to it. (Angus Sewell McCann)

Caleb Melville, “Masked super hero,” Photojournalism: Feature photo

Senior Blue Brigade co-captain Matthew Vargas leaps during the Dec. 11 halftime show, a field pom dance to “Edge of Glory.” The game turned out to be the end of the Knights’ season, and the last time the Blue Brigade seniors would perform at halftime of a high school football game. “I was really excited and optimistic,” Vargas said of his feelings before Friday’s game. “The sunset was so pretty and it just set the mood and I was happy.” By halftime, the Knights’ trailed by 21 points and the future looked bleak for the season, but Blue Brigade was still excited for its performance. “I knew it would be the last performance, so I just wanted to give it my all, and honestly I have never felt so happy during a performance. Hitting that ending pose gave me the chills, and I had such a big smile under my mask.” (Caleb Melville)

Kennedy Weatherby, “Soaring higher than the Highlanders,” Photojournalism: Sports photo

SOARING HIGHER THAN THE HIGHLANDERS: Senior captain Rob Wade shields a St. Andrew’s defender with his body to create space for a left-handed shot attempt during the Knights’ 59-51 home victory over the Highlanders on Friday night. Wade led the Knights to victory with 22 points. The Highlanders brought their A game, but the Knights answered with the same high level of play. The home team went into halftime up by one, 26-25. In the second half, the Knights picked up speed and pulled ahead for an eight-point final margin of victory. “We fought well through adversity. St. Andrews never went away or quit and we did a good job of answering them both defensively and offensively.” Wade said. “We’re just going to continue to work hard and make each other better.” Photo by Kennedy Weatherby.

Third place (eight points)

Lindsey Plotkin, “Bring the heat,” Design: Yearbook spread 

Fourth place (seven points)

Samantha Powers, “Student athletes to be assigned to separate learning groups,” Writing: Sports story

Athletic teams such as the football team shown here are following safety protocols such as wearing facial masks and practicing social distancing during weight training and team exercises, but sports, especially football, volleyball and basketball, require contact and close proximity between athletes, which increases risk of exposure to COVID-19. (Caleb Melville)

Bella Russo, “Gella, yes!,” Photojournalism: Sports photo

GELLA, YES! Freshman middle hitter Gella Andrew spikes the ball into the Cougar block for one of her six kills during the second set of the Knights’ 3-1 bi-district playoff loss on Friday night. The Knights lost the set, 25-23, in heart-breaking fashion to fall behind, 2-0. The Knights rebounded to win the third set, 25-17, before losing the fourth set, 25-20, and the match, 3-1. Andrew was solid in the middle in the final game of her breakout freshman season. Her kill percentage was a team best 37.5 percent, and she had one of the Knights’ four solo blocks for the match. Photo by Bella Russo. (Bella Russo)

Fifth place (six points)

Madelynn Niles, “A trip down Dart Bowl’s memory lanes,” Writing: Feature story

Masked visitors wait in line for their final plate of the famed Dart Bowl Cafe enchiladas as they watch games unfold beside them. Senior Alexa Fannin grew up on the dish, dining in the cafe nearly every week. ““It was more than just eating,” she said. “It was like connecting with the family again.” (Madelynn Niles)


(point totals include fall and spring Clips and Clicks competitions)

      1. Christopher Columbus High School, Miami 145

2. MacJournalism, Austin 111

(tie) Northview High School, Johns Creek, Ga. 111

4. St. John’s School, Houston 110

5. Carlmont High School, Belmont, Calif., 99

6. Marquette High School, Chesterfield, Mo., 89

7. Prospect High School, Mount Prospect, Ill., 77

8. Ladue Horton Watkins High School, Saint Louis, 74

9. Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kan., 70

10. Community High School, Ann Arbor, Mich., 66