CHS newspaper attains top honors – again – Chanute Tribune
USD 413 public relations
USD 413 public relations
Once again, the Chanute High Schoolâs newspaper has been named All-Kansas â the highest designation that Kansas Scholastic Press Association bestows upon publications.
âItâs a big deal,â said Dustin Fox, who teaches journalism and English at CHS and oversees the students who write, edit and design regular issues of The Comet. Just one other Class 4A school received the award that typically goes to larger schools with bigger programs.
âWeâve done very well traditionally,â Fox said. His first newspaper staff âworked hard staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning designing the newspaper from scratch,â he recalled. âI think they set the tone from then to now, earning their first All-Kansas award.â
Since then, The Comet has earned that distinction seven of the nine years Fox has served as the newspaperâs advisor.Â
The staff âwanted to make it something they could be proud of and this community can be proud of and that has been passed to future staffs,â he said.
Unlike the KSPA state journalism contest in which the students will participate on May 6 in Lawrence, the All-Kansas critique is a review and rating by judges of the finished editions produced over the school year. Following a checklist, the judges provide feedback about the newspaperâs coverage, reporting, visuals, design and leadership, and issue an overall rating.
Fox credited senior Annie Brazilâs leadership with this yearâs success.
âThe time and dedication it takes to earn an award like this is not possible without her leadership and her work ethic,â Fox said.
Since beginning as a page editor two years ago,Â BrazilÂ believesÂ theÂ issues have gotten better visually and the content is better, with more focus on how the stories are relevant to students and the local community. As this yearâs editor-in-chief, she has led the planning sessions for each issue, overseen the page editors and designed the front page of the newspaper.
âI personally have gotten a lot better at attention to detail and knowledge of design in general and the program we use,â she said. âAt the end of the issue, I do the fine-tuning â¦ and go over every page.â
She holds up a front page sheâs proud of with a lead story about texting and driving beneath the headline, âThe Price of Distraction.â A large photo captures the eye at the top as does a horizontal colored banner midway down the page with comments inside. Along the right side of the page are results from âa survey with graphs that are easy to look at and absorb from afar,â she said.
Sheâs emphasized the visual aspect of the paper.
âThe design is consistently attention-drawing, which is important when weâre distributing it to high school students,â Brazil said.
Brazil and her page editors also stepped out to tackle some controversial issues this year â issues under debate at the state and federal levels, but not necessarily talked about in the local community.
The spotlight pages designed by page editor Mercedes Ansell focused on those issues.Â
âIâm really proud that for spotlight we did topics that were very controversial that weâve always been scared to do in the past,â Ansell said. âThis was my senior year and I wanted to open peopleâs eyes to the facts of the world, that our world isnât perfect, and in high school weâve been sheltered from those fears,â she said.
She put a lot of thought into the design of those pages, bouncing ideas off her fellow staffers and Fox.
âFor the intense topics, I did photo illustrations because I wanted to put an image in peopleâs minds before they read (the story),â Ansell said. âI know the judges liked the fact we had controversial topics and I feel they (appreciated) the fact I sent surveys out to students and got local statistics.â
Not everyone reacted positively to The Cometâs stories about sexual assault, rape or LGBT issues in communities and schools.
âA lot of people really liked that we were bringing up such controversial things. Some of the students were upset at first, but after talking to me they realized it was necessary,â Ansell said.
Those same issues âare the ones we ended up getting commended for by the All Kansas judges,â Brazil said. âThey liked our bold stories and the fact we chose to write about them.â
The maturity of this yearâs staff led to other changes as well.
âWe had a lot of senior editors this year who had a lot of experience and have grown through the years,â Fox said. âThey were willing to step out of their comfort zones and try new designs and push the envelope from a design perspective.â
Kaleigh Ludlum, page editor for the Arts and Entertainment page, challenged herself to âcreatively find a way to put a graphic with each topicâ on her page.
âMy page is kind of all over the place,â she said. Itâs about whatever people are talking about or what is trending at the moment. It was âreally fun for me to get creative on my page.â
A sophomore and first-year staffer, Dustin Vargo is a news editor and writer for The Comet.
He said he likes writing about âstuff that matters,â like the budget cuts, the possibility of a culinary arts program and sports reclassifications.
Heâs proud of what theyâve accomplished this year.
âWe take our time to edit. We catch a lot of mistakes that other papers donât get,â he said. âItâs very cool to know youâve done that well and that a whole lot of professionals think you have a really good paper.â
âIn general, the judges thought we were a very professional paper for being a high school paper,â both with its layout and content. âThey even complimented our font choice,â she said.