Bear River student newspaper wins first place rating

Recent improvements impress American Scholastic Press Association
By: Andrew Westrope, Staff Writer
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GRASS VALLEY – Bear River High School journalism students have revitalized their school newspaper over the past few years, and the American Scholastic Press Association has given them an award to show for it.

The school’s newspaper, “The Current,” earned a first place classification for the first time last month based on the association’s point system, indicating the quality of the publication’s page design, story layout, graphics, headlining, cover design, advertising placement and photography.

In her second year as the class adviser, Megan Ross said the award is also based on enrollment size to level the playing field, but the students deserve commensurate praise for stepping up their game since winning a second place rating last year.

“I think the first place award is really a sign of how hard the kids work. There are so many aspects of journalism that have to come through to get a paper together, and I think earning a first place award is just a really cool way of the kids getting to see rewards for their hard work,” she said. “We’re really excited to get recognition for it. It’s cool for the program.”

This year’s team of 19 students, comprised of both a beginning and an advanced class, produced six editions of the tabloid-style paper, four pages long and paid for by advertisements the students had sold at the beginning of the year.

As one of three editors-in chief, 17-year-old Bailey Bernier took turns with the others in overseeing editions of the paper, writing front-page columns, editing stories, formatting pages and placing advertisements. She said her skills as a journalist have improved considerably since she first tested them as a sophomore, and the award proves they have already paid off.

“My story writing has definitely improved, and it’s easier to find topics and find an angle that will interest people, and get the information out to students,” Bernier said. “I was really excited, because it shows how hard we worked and how it paid off.”

Concluding her fourth and final year at The Current, 18-year-old Shelby Angus, another editor-in-chief, has seen the paper grow from a single front-and-back piece of paper in her freshman year to its current award-winning height, and the students’ efforts are not lost on their readers.

“I thought the transition from a one-page to a tabloid is something we should be really proud of, and we’ve gotten a lot of recognition from the school about how much our paper has improved, and that transition between the two different styles of printing,” she said. “We get a lot of comments about how (students and staff) started reading the newspaper once it looked a lot more serious and professional.”

Angus attributes the paper’s success to the growing ambition of its makers, motivated by the possibility of making something to be proud of.

“I think our topic selection has improved a lot. In the beginning of the year it was, ‘I don’t know what to write about,’ and they’re really getting more and more interested in covering stories and going out and talking to the right kinds of people and getting all the information they need, and their writing skills have improved,” she said. “We’ve been doing a lot of work with the AP Style Guide and all the technical stuff, and I think a combination of all that has improved everyone’s writing.”