BJHS Journalism Staff

BJHS journalism won 43 awards at the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association (ASPA).  Among the top awards, Jason Hay won the Walter J. Lemke award, Vanessa Hawley won Editor of the Year and both the newspaper and yearbook were ranked excellent in General Excellence.

“We don’t set out to win awards. We enter competitions to get valuable feedback to do better for our school and community,” Meag Abo, journalism adviser, said, “But it is incredibly gratifying to be recognized. My students are as committed as athletes, working all summer and then before and after school to provide a service to others.”

For mail-in awards, the school won 35, including Hay’s award. These awards were based on portfolios of actual work published and real contributions to the staff throughout the year.  

The newspaper, The Occurrence, and the yearbook, The Blue and White, were both ranked excellent in General Excellence.

Vanessa Hawley, freshman, was also named Yearbook Editor of the Year for the junior high state division.    

Priscila Cox, Yveline Gomez, freshmen, and Emir Huerta, 8, won an honorable mention in short narrative film.  Kenzie Robertson, freshman, Hawley and Cannen Garner, 8, won an honorable mention in animation/stop motion film. Carissa Callicott, freshman, and Jocelyn Kirby, 8, won an excellent in experimental film.  

Robertson won a superior in news story, an honorable mention in opinion page design and a superior in feature page design. Gabi Dawson, freshman, won an excellent in editorial and an honorable mention in news photograph. Garner won an honorable mention in column writing. Cox won an excellent in editorial cartoon and a superior in review writing. Dawson and Robertson won an excellent in front page design and an excellent in sports page design for newspaper. Shelby Douthit, freshman, won an excellent for feature story and a superior for service to school and community. Rylee Rutledge, 8, won a superior in sports news story.  Andrew Schroeder, freshman, won an honorable mention in sports photography for newspaper. Cox, Garner and Robertson won a superior for center spread design.  

Madden Holloway, 8, and Schroeder won an honorable mention for yearbook special coverage. Samantha Merkle, Mia King, freshman, and Molly Kitchens won an honorable mention for academic layout. Kitchens, King, and Maggie Cole, 8, won an excellent for groups/clubs layout. Cole won an excellent in student life layout. King won a superior for people/portrait layout. King and Kitchens won an excellent for sports layout.  Zac Broach, freshman, won an excellent for advertising layout. Elizabeth Burns and Carsyn Hobson, freshman, won an honorable mention in index layout. Lily Presley, 8, won an honorable mention in student life photograph and an excellent in club photograph. Nytriuna Smith, 8, won an honorable mention for academic photograph.  Schroder won a superior for sports photograph for yearbook. Hawley and Zack Cookus, freshman, won a superior for yearbook cover design.               

For on-sites, the school won eight awards. These were timed, prompt-based contests where students were blind-judged.

Burns placed 2nd in social media, Douthit placed 3rd in literary magazine essay writing, Hobson placed first in yearbook print advertising, Kirby placed 3rd in feature writing, Kitchens placed 2nd in literary magazine poetry writing, Hawley placed 3rd in sports photography, Robertson placed 3rd in interview and reporting, and Cole placed first in yearbook clubs design.    

These awards bring the school year total to 52 state and national awards. The program has also won awards from ASU’s Creative Media competition and Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association’s national fall competition. Journalism staff members are currently awaiting results from the Jostens National Photography Contest, the New York Times editorial contest, Ball State University’s J-Day contests and JEA’s junior high media mail-in awards.