Submitted by Jolene Anderson and Mia Hipwood, Student Journalists for Minarets Press
Each year, Central Valley journalists are recognized through the Gruner Awards, and this year two student journalists from Minarets Press were awarded first place in the high school categories.
Timothy Drachlis, organizer of the Gruner Awards and the Tatarian Journalism Chair at Fresno State, explained that the Gruner Awards started 33 years ago in 1988, in honor of George Gurner, former editor of the Fresno Bee. Drachlis was hired by Fresno State in 2019 and took up the position of organizing the Gruner Awards that same year, but up until two years ago, the competition excluded colleges and schools. When asked about how nominees and winners are chosen, Drachlis explained that they are chosen by the journalism advisers after their articles are sent to multiple judges outside the Central Valley. He gets their results a month and a half before they are announced, and he reads all the stories. He says that reading the articles is his favorite part of the competition because he learns new things, such as the fact that there are active female high school wrestling leagues.
Katie Morgan, the Digital Journalism teacher at Minarets High School, says that the Gruner Awards are “reflective of the progress Minarets has made in journalism.” The Gruner Awards introduced a high school category into the competition two years ago in 2019 to which Minarets has had nominations and winners since then. Last year, Minarets High entered an article into each of the three categories and alumna Autumn Pecarovich’s article titled “The Dirt on the Parking Lot” received an honorable mention in the News Story category. This year, two of Minarets’ students received awards: senior Johanna Ziegler for Best News Story and junior Hazel Taintor for Best Profile Story. Morgan had stated the Gruner Awards are “not so much about winning, but for students to be recognized for their hard work and dedication.”
Ziegler’s winning article, “Is Minarets Heading in the Right Direction in Test Scores?” analyzes Juniors’ CAASPP scores to see if a new student coming to Minarets would receive a better education there or at another school such as Yosemite High School. Her overall consensus was that a student would receive a better education at Minarets because students scored high in English and around the average in math. She believes that her article won because it is such a sophisticated topic, and she handled it professionally. Ziegler’s words of wisdom for future journalism students is to write something that hasn’t been written before, even if you risk getting in trouble.
When asked about where she was when she found out she’d won, Ziegler responded, “I was sprawled out on my living room floor, struggling to get the Zoom to load on the laptop, and right as the feed came on, they started announcing my category, so my parents quickly ran over and watched over my shoulder as my name was announced.” She said that winning this award made her feel validated because a group of professionals chose her story over all the others.
Taintor’s winning article, “In The Works: Student Allies for Equality”, talks about a new club at Minarets called S.A.F.E., started by junior Jazmyn Evans. The goal of this club is to help students fight racism through education and activism. Taintor believes her article won because it addressed solving issues important to teenagers and students. Taintor says she first heard about her award when she was at youth group, and Miss Morgan texted her the news that her article had won. She states, “I was so excited that there were people who thought my writing was good enough to receive an award, and I was also happy to promote the S.A.F.E. club and the issues it is addressing.” Taintor’s advice for her fellow journalism peers, and future journalism students, is to “constantly work on improving your writing and never think that you are the greatest writer in the world. Your writing can always be improved and there are always improvements that can be made.”Another point Taintor made is to “take criticism well. Every piece of criticism will only make you a better writer and not listening to it will only harm your writing.”
With these two victories, Minarets Press has made a name for itself as an award-winning program and looks forward to new opportunities to showcase the talented student journalists at Minarets High School.
Read the original article on Minarets Press: https://minaretspress4.wixsite.com/minaretspress/post/minarets-press-wins-at-central-valley-gruner-awards