VHS newspaper ‘Riptide’ takes top honor

GREG MCELROY: The Riptide staff this year works exceptionally well together.

The Vashon High School Riptide was one of two Washington newspapers to win a top honor in the American Scholastic Press Association’s annual competition for high-school newspapers.

The paper earned the mark of “first place with special merit” for the 2007-2008 year, and both the staff of 29 students and the paper’s adviser Greg McElroy were recognized with the award.

“I think we have a very strong staff this year,” McElroy said. “It’s hard to compare from one year to the next because we always have outstanding students, but this staff works very well together. They saw how well things could be done last year, and used that as a stepping-off point, and made things even better.”

The paper has entered the contest in previous years, but never received the highest distinction.

Judges examine three issues of the paper, which advisers and staff select, to determine the awards. Papers are judged on content, page design, art, advertising, editing and creativity and given points in each category. Their total points determine their place. But to be given “special merit,” a newspaper has to go above and beyond.

McElroy said The Riptide staff have proven themselves this year.

“I think they’re good at journalism, period,” he said. “I think they’ve done a really good job at localizing the majority of their stories, finding a local angle and finding stories their primary readership is interested in. I think the paper’s a really good reflection of what goes on in the high school.”

He said the reward was a welcome recognition that his staff are doing just what they ought to be — “doing good writing, doing good reporting, doing good layout.”

“What’s important,” he added, “is that these kids learn about the journalism in the world around them.”

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