A gallery of MacJ’s national award winners

For a winter break Tuesday Top 10, we present a collection of our work that was honored at the 2022 Fall NSPA/JEA National High School Journalism Convention

NSPA Fall 2022 Best of Show winner JoJo Barnard, feature photo, sixth place “A SWEET SURPRISE” Senior art society officers Amaya Collier and Claire De Silva-Yost smear cake on their advisor, Sara Massey. The students thought it’d be funny to cover Massey, who was dressed as the Mona Lisa, with cake, because the famous work was recently vandalized with the dessert. “I liked seeing all our efforts being enjoyed by everyone in school,” De Silva-Yost said. “I saw so many smiles.” De Silva-Yost found the stunt to be extra exciting considering that the acts of vandalism are still currently happening, with the most recent occurrence being last Thursday, targeting the painting “Girl With a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer. Although it isn’t certain that the defacing of the Mona Lisa corresponds with the more recent outbreaks, De Silva-Yost wouldn’t be surprised if the two were linked. “I support the protests’ message to stop using oil,” De Silva-Yost said, “but I think they executed it in a way that lacks a clear message to the public.”

Shield editors in chief Evie Barnard and Alice Scott represented MacJournalism at the National Scholastic Press Association/Journalism Education Association Fall National High School Journalism Convention in St. Louis, Nov. 10-13.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, the National Scholastic Press Association announced its annual individual awards and its Pacemaker Award winners for print newspaper, broadcast programs and specialty magazines, as well as Best of Show winners in staff and individual categories.

Barnard and Scott were on hand to learn of the MacJ winners as they were announced live at the convention, and they collected the awards to bring home to Austin.

MacJ earned three first place individual awards. Scott earned one of them as the NSPA Broadcaster of the Year. The Shield staff captured first place in the Digital Story of the Year competition in the photo slideshow category for the November 2021 photo essay, “Standing up and walking out,” about the day hundreds of McCallum students left class to support victims of sexual assault and to protest the school’s handling of cases. MacJ earned first place in the Best Use of Social Media competition in the social media reporting category. It is the fourth time in five years that MacJ has taken home first in the nation in this category.

Class of 2022 graduate Lucy Marco, who was co-editor in chief of macshieldonline.com for two years, earned second place in the nation in the Digital Story of the Year competition in the blog category for her August 2021 blog, “Thinking inside the box.”

Scott was back at the podium again when she took home third place in the Broadcast Story of the Year competition for her June 2021 feature package, “How families can support transgender and nonbinary teens.”

2022 Knight editor in chief Carly Johnson won fourth place in the Portfolio of the Year competition in the Designer of the Year category, and 2022 Shield photo editor Kennedy Weatherby earned fifth place in the Photo of the Year competition in the feature photo category for her Sept. 25, 2021 feature photo, “Forged by fire fighting,” of LBJ Fire Academy seniors battling a live propane fire.

MacJ placed for a second time in the Best Use of Social Media category with a fifth-place finish in the social media promotion category.

MacJ earned nine honorable mention NSPA awards on Saturday: Marco (Portfolio of the Year winner, Multimedia Journalist of the Year category), Grace Nugent, (Portfolio of the Year winner, Designer of the Year category AND Design of the Year, newsmagazine cover category), Kai Kirkham Macias (Portfolio of the Year winner, Artist of the Year category), Mia Gomez (Sports Feature Photo of the Year), Elena Ulack (News Photo of the Year), Anna McClellan, Astraea Hagood, Helen Martin and Miles Traweek Moehle (Digital Story of the Year winner, multimedia news story category) and the Shield staff (Digital Story of the Year winner, multimedia feature story category).

The staff also fared well in the Best of Show competition in which schools compete against schools who attended the convention. In the staff recognition categories, all three MacJ publications placed in the top four places. The 2022 yearbook captured second place in the Best of Show competition for yearbooks between 224 and 278 pages. The Shield website, macshieldonline.com, won third place in its size category, while the first issue of the Shield for the 2022-2023 school year garnered fourth place in its size category.

MacJ also won six individual Best of Show awards. Shield design and visuals editor Sophie Leung-Lieu won second place in the newspaper/newsmagazine design competition for her issue one design, “A losing [ACL] lineup.” Print newspaper co-managing editor Lanie Sepehri earned fourth place for her issue one design, “New kids on the pyramid,” and Scott took home fifth in the same category for her issue one page design, “Back to the beginning.”

MacJ photojournalists won three awards in the photojournalism category. Knight editor in chief Charlie Partheymuller won fourth place in feature photography for his image of PALS Anderson Zoll and Josie Bradsby at the Pink Week pep rally. Freshman Shield staffer JoJo Barnard took home sixth place in the same category for her picture of senior Art Society officers Amaya Collier and Claire De Silva-Yost smearing cake on their adviser, Sara “Mona Lisa” Massey, at the group’s annual lunchtime costume contest. Senior yearbook editor Jolie Gabriel won ninth place in sports action photo for her image of Greta Carlson and Rylee Hissey soaring above the net in a block attempt against Northeast.

The Shield was also recognized as one of 38 2022 Newspaper Pacemaker Award finalists. Unfortunately, the Shield was not among the 17 publications named Saturday as Newspaper Pacemaker Award winners.

To celebrate and share our NSPA success with our primary audience, we are pleased to present as this week’s Tuesday Top 10 a gallery of our visual winners in the NSPA Individual Awards and Best of Show competitions.

NSPA Digital Story of the Year winners

Staff, photo slideshow, first place

STANDING UP, WALKING OUT: After marching around the perimeter of the school, students at yesterday’s walkout regrouped by the baseball fields to share their stories of assault. Genevieve Henley was one of the students who decided to share. “It was my first time really sharing my story with anyone but close friends,” Henley said, “It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.” Afterwards, her friend Bri Wilson comforted her. “I was just really emotional,” Henley said. Caption and photo by Evie Barnard.

Staff, multimedia feature story, honorable mention

COFFEEHOUSE ENJOYS TRIUMPHANT RETURN TO MAC CAMPUS: The strum of an acoustic guitar, the sound of crisply-spoken poetry, the vibrations of Cello arpeggios — all could be heard from the library this Friday during Excalibur’s semi-annual coffeehouse.

Friday’s Coffeehouse was the first in nearly two years. For both freshman and sophomore performers, Friday’s event was their first time experiencing a McCallum Coffeehouse. Sophomore performer Charlie McBride’s favorite part of the experience was viewing art forms other than his own, specifically the spoken poetry.

“I’m a musician,” McBride said. “And while it was awesome to see everyone perform their songs that they’ve worked on, I’ve never been to a poetry slam or watched a live reading of poetry before. That was a new experience for me.”

Anna McClellan, Emma Hagood, Helen Martin, Miles Traweek Moehle, multimedia news story, honorable mention

FOR CLOSE BUSH ADVISER, 9/11 EMOTIONS REMAIN STRONG: Security guard Bob Bedard, who served as a Chicago firefighter for more than 30 years before he came to McCallum, said that the years after Sept. 11 have been good and bad for firefighters in New York and across the nation. Bedard said that after Sept. 11 contract negotiations and pension reforms improved greatly for firefighters all across the country. But the response wasn’t entirely positive. “Hundreds of firefighters died after the 343, and the government pretty much stalled at helping these firefighters and their families, with their cancer treatments and money for the families. There’s been some bitterness from that.” Interview by Helen Martin.

NSPA Photo of the Year winners

Kennedy Weatherby, feature photo, fifth place

FORGED BY FIREFIGHTING: Senior Michael Valentino participated in the LBJ Fire Academy’s live fire skill day that was held on Sep. 25. After a full year of learning about fires, extinguishers, equipment and how to use it, Valentino and the three other seniors a part of the academy put out their first live fires. “It was so cool,” Valentino said. “I ended up doing the nozzle, which is the first person in line, which was super cool, I really wanted to do that.” Caption and photo by Kennedy Weatherby.

Elena Ulack, news photo, honorable mention

PARENTS OF TRANS YOUTH PROTEST AT CAPITOL: Trans youth parent Susan Mack attended the Trans Youth Rally at the Capitol on March 1. “My trans kid is beautiful,” Mack said. “From the time that they came out, they’ve really helped me change and grow my perspective and be more empathetic to everyone who is trans.” Mack gave a powerful speech about when she first became aware of the legislation and how she wanted to hide her head in the sand like an “ostrich.” She didn’t want to accept the reality for her child. After doing some reflection, Mack realized that the only way to protect her child and other trans children is to fight for them and try to vote out of office the people currently attacking them. “What I found is that kids need help, not just my kid, but all trans kids, because trans kids are kids,” Mack said. “Hopefully [people showing up today] will help them know that there are a lot of Texans who do actually support them.”

Mia Gomez, sports feature photo, honorable mention

REVELLING IN A PLAYOFF VICTORY: Jumping in the air, Tino Rodriguez celebrates after quarterback Jaxon Rosales scored the overtime game-winning touchdown over Glenn. The win sent the Knights into the second round of the playoffs. After a year of COVID scares, mask mandates and injuries, the football team persevered and found a way to victory again. Photo by Mia Gomez.

NSPA Portfolio of the Year winners

Alice Scott, Broadcast Journalist of the Year, first place

I produced this story about two transgender teens — Jake Waggoner and Wednesday Gomez — during the PBS Student Reporting Labs Summer Broadcast Academy. Creating this video allowed me to produce localized coverage during a national debate over trans rights for high school students as it was playing out in the Texas legislature. This story gave visibility to Jake and Wednesday’s experience, showcased how families can support trans youth and provided a face to a heavily politicized issue.

Carly Johnson, Designer of the Year, fourth place

Finishing the 2022 Knight has elicited the complete range of emotions from frustrating and stressful, to sentimental and gratifying. I can confidently say this has been my best year as not only a member of The Knight, but as a journalist and leader. Aside from working so hard on the book, I learned to take advantage of challenges rather than be afraid of them. Improving my design skills allowed me to understand the importance of all the elements of creating a book, instead of just focusing on one of them. This yearbook gave me the opportunity to remember the importance of community and to never give up, even on the cloudy days.

Kai Kirkham Macias, Artist of the Year, honorable mention

In the final back-page full-color “Fish” strip, Curtis departs Mac for a new job at UT. (Kai Kirkham Macias)

Fish No. 84: “Graduation” — This was the final “Fish” strip that I made for The Shield, and it was a long time in concept. From the moment I had conceived of the strip, I knew that I wanted to end with the rat character, Curtis, leaving the school. At first I considered ending it on a cynical note, with Curtis being picked up and taken off to be killed by a bird, right as he said “goodbye,” but the closer I got to my own graduation, the more I realized I wanted a slightly uncharacteristically earnest conclusion. I set up the bird as being Curtis’s friend—also named Curtis—so that in this strip, Curtis the Rat was carried off into the future by “himself.” The final strip ended up being a collection of moments in the characters’ lives, all framed around Curtis’s parting advice.
Each moment is a reference to previous strips; the desk with the flower in a boot is a callback to the series in which the kids give Curtis a room in the school, the flower in the bot having been shown consistently throughout the series as not having bloomed yet, until this final strip. The yearbook is a callback to the series in which the kids run for student council, the skateboarding is a callback to a series in which Frankie tries to teach Nessie to skateboard, and it almost kills her, the kissing is a callback to the Valentine’s strips with Nessie and Manfred, and the final panel is just one appreciating that Curtis finally has friends. I’m incredibly proud of this strip, as I think it’s the most different looking strip I’ve ever made, and the illustrations are the best I ever did in my time at The Shield. To me, it was the perfect way to end the series.

Grace Nugent, Designer of the Year, honorable mention

CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE CEO: I close this portfolio with the design that I believe pushed my artistic and design horizons the most, one with enough reverse type to merit an email to the printer to make sure that the story would remain readable despite the amount of ink that would be used to print it.  It was a risk worth taking in my view because this is the design that is the most visually appealing of any that I’ve done, and I think it also perfectly encapsulates the subject I was profiling (an 18 year old CEO named Holden Satterwhite). My inspiration for the page design was Steve Jobs meets The Harbinger, and this page delivered on that muse. For the dominant photo, I did a partial cutout layered on top of the original image in order to wrap the text around the subject’s face and computer, adorned with stickers, exemplifying his love for technology and Apple specifically (Holden was fortuitously even wearing an Apple sweatshirt).

I took some liberties and strayed away from my beloved style guide to do a headline that focused on him being an 18-year-old CEO with the “O” being the logo of one of his companies. The right side is a stark contrast of white, grey and red to juxatpose the dark black of the left side. The right module also has a very “I aspire to be the next Steve Jobs” style cutout of Holden next to a timeline of his adventures as a teenage CEO. I included these elements because while there is a lot of text on the page, I still wanted to have entry points for the reader and graphics that would visually represent Holden’s life and loves. That is why at the bottom of the page there is “Holden’s Passport,” something that has nothing to do with tech but another passion (travel) of the multi-layered tech teenager. One of my first and one of my last graphic endeavors for The Shield were the little post cards on the bottom right that add more color (and connect to the colors on the computer stickers) and just show visually more of who Holden is. Overall I am so satisfied and proud of this page, as someone who had her hand in almost every double truck, this is truly my best work. 

I used to think page design was evil, a maelstrom of text, spacing issues, graphics that would not fit and boring L and U shaped templates. But over my last two years on The Shield a new colorful, correctly spaced world has opened up to me. Helping staffers with page-design questions and growling just a bit when something does not fit are things I will dearly miss.  

Lucy Marco, Multimedia Journalist of the Year, honorable mention

The final piece in my portfolio is a grid template display of all the students that made the cut for the “Who’s Who” honorable mention. I put my blood, sweat and tears into this one, as I was handed the project the final week of my senior year with only about a day to complete it. Originally, the deadline seemed realistic if everyone came together as a team and worked on it. But unfortunately, I was the only member on staff who knew how to do a grid template and the only one who wasn’t busy studying for finals. So I spent hours finding the photos, entering the achievements, editing and scrounging for blurbs on all 25 of the people. The grid template allowed for a very interactive and aesthetically pleasing experience, adding a little more pizzazz than just a simple list to scroll through. This project taught me it takes tenacity and willpower to be a leader. In the end, I pieced it all together and it was an intense and strong way to finish out my time on staff.

NSPA Best Use of Social Media winners

Staff, Social Media Reporting, first place

Staff, Social Media Promotion, fifth place


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As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we are taking the time to reflect on the things we are most thankful for. Earlier this month, the National Scholastic Press Association named Macjournalism the top scholastic journalism program in the nation for our social media reporting.

We feel fortunate to have received that distinction from NSPA four times in the past five years. It is absolutely fitting that the picture on our first place plaque was an image that head custodian Daniel Sena snapped on March 21 with his cell phone and sent to us on the day that he raised the school’s PRIDE flag for the first time.

We work hard to make our social media relevant and meaningful, but we could not do it without the help of the students, parents, teachers, custodians and administrators, who help us in small and large ways every day.

Thank you for not only supporting the work we do but also for working alongside us every day to cover what matters most in the life of our community.

NSPA Fall 2022 Best of Show winners

Charlie Partheymuller, feature photo, fourth place

PINK WEEK REVENGE SERVED: Anderson Zoll exacts his revenge on fellow PAL Josie Bradsby. Moments earlier Bradsby and math teacher Carly Kehn pulled a surprise on Zoll. When Bradsby was supposed to pie Kehn, Kehn ducked leaving a path for Zoll to receive Bradsby’s pie. When it comes to pep rally pies during Pink Week, generally what goes around, comes around.

JoJo Barnard, feature photo, sixth place

A SWEET SURPRISE: Senior art society officers Amaya Collier and Claire De Silva-Yost smear cake on their advisor, Sara Massey. The students thought it’d be funny to cover Massey, who was dressed as the Mona Lisa, with cake, because the famous work was recently vandalized with the dessert.

“I liked seeing all our efforts being enjoyed by everyone in school,” De Silva-Yost said. “I saw so many smiles.”

De Silva-Yost found the stunt to be extra exciting considering that the acts of vandalism are still currently happening, with the most recent occurrence being last Thursday, targeting the painting “Girl With a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer. Although it isn’t certain that the defacing of the Mona Lisa corresponds with the more recent outbreaks, De Silva-Yost wouldn’t be surprised if the two were linked.

“I support the protests’ message to stop using oil,” De Silva-Yost said, “but I think they executed it in a way that lacks a clear message to the public.”

Caption and photo by JoJo Barnard.

Jolie Gabriel, sports action photo, ninth place

RAIDER REPELLENT: The varsity volleyball team swept the Northeast Raiders on Tuesday in its first district match of the season. The Knights cruised in the first set, 25-11. Freshman Lexi Rosenblatt said Tuesday’s game allowed the team to work on specific issues within a game setting. “It was a good chance to run plays,” Rosenblatt said. “We needed to work on communicating more and talking on the court.” The varsity put together its most dominant set in the second, winning by 16 points, 25-9. The Knights lost their early momentum in the final set, still winning, but the Raiders competed much more evenly before the Knights ultimately prevailed, 25-18, to complete the sweep. “We just fell out of it during that last set,” Rosenblatt said. “We got lazy because we knew we would win even if we didn’t try that hard. We stopped communicating.” The varsity plays LBJ this Friday at LBJ at 7:30 p.m. It’s the first varsity game between the two traditional rivals since LBJ rejoined the UIL district for 5A AustinISD schools this school year. Caption by Naomi Di-Capua. Photos by Jolie Gabriel.

Sophie Leung-Lieu, newspaper design, second place

A LOSING LINEUP: Volume 70, Number 1, Oct. 14, page 28.

Lanie Sepehri, newspaper design, fourth place

NEW KIDS ON THE PYRAMID: Volume 70, Number 1, Oct. 14, page 22.

Alice Scott, newspaper design, fifth place

BACK TO THE BEGINNING: Volume 70, Number 1, Oct. 14, page 14.