PHS students publish award-winning newspaper


Kristie Byrd, KP News

The Peninsula Outlook, Peninsula High School’s student newspaper, is a consistent award winner. Most recently, the newspaper won its sixth Pacemaker award, considered the “Pulitzer Prize of student journalism” by the National Scholastic Press Association.

The staff of The Peninsula Outlook illustrate the creative chaos that floats around the classroom as the staff works late at night to wrap the paper. Front row, newspaper adviser Derek Smith and co-editor-in-chief Cassandra Kapp. Co-editor-in-chief Caity Carter is in the back row, far left corner, with managing editor Patrick Renie to her right. Photo by Mindi LaRose

The Outlook is “setting the standards high,” according to news editor, Taylor Buck.

When asked what judges look for in a newspaper competition, adviser Derek Smith said they look for stories that are appealing, entertaining, and informative. The Pacemaker awards are given by the National Scholastic Press Association, with judges considering such criteria as coverage, content, writing and photography, design, in-depth reporting and others.

“We have a lot to live up to, but we are definitely capable,” Taylor said. “We are learning to get things done quicker.”

An issue of the paper comes out once every three weeks. The Outlook is a class and a student-run club. Some staff members aren’t in class but show up on the weekends.

“Everything you do matters, and you’re ultimately responsible,” Taylor said about the students’ roles.

The students have a sense of ownership and pride, therefore they are motivated to do a good job. “The class is structured hierarchically, meaning positions of power that students have to earn. They keep each other in line and also make sure to show concern for the well-being of others,” Smith said.

The administrators are also supportive of student journalism, and many parents are willing to help out with time and money, according to Smith. He said that most importantly, The Outlook has reporters who are willing to work hard, write ethically, design artistically, and think critically.

“I’m really lucky and fortunate to be able to work with a group of teens who are amusing, insightful, quick-witted, savvy, colorful, and every day, I look forward to teaching that class and interacting with them,” Smith said.

The newspaper received the new Pacemaker in November, while also placing ninth for best of show, and third for best of show, special edition.

“It shows that all our hard work has paid off,” co-editor-in-chief Cassandra Kapp said.  “We are a serious newspaper with serious students and we want to prove it.”

Other awards won by the students include first-class honor rating, and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Crown award, the most prestigious honor by the CSPA.

Kristie Byrd is a Peninsula High School freshman.