The yearbook staff at Vista Ridge High School earned a national award for high school scholastic journalists. The yearbook, called “The Lonestar,” earned a Gold Crown award at the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s 93rd annual convention held at Columbia University in New York on March 17.
“It was a really amazing feeling knowing all the hard work we put in was worth it in the end,” senior editor Allison McCain said. “All the long hours we spent working in the computer lab paid off, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.”
The yearbook competed with 1,100 newspapers, magazines and other yearbooks. “The Lonestar” was one of 13 yearbooks nationwide to win a Gold Crown. This is the fourth Crown for Vista Ridge’s yearbook staff and the second Gold Crown.
“Our caption writing and how we interview people has always stood out,” junior editor Jaimie Kim said. “We’re very detail-oriented, and we want the book to be the best it can be. Having passion and determination to make the book look great and keeping that goal in mind is what helps us strive for greatness.”
Yearbook adviser Jamie Ray said the students plan a year in advance for the book. The book awarded, titled “Look at it this Way” was the school’s 2016 edition.
“My staff really took ownership of it,” Ray said. “Some years, students need more encouragement but these students owned it from the beginning. It was even the first book ahead of the deadline schedule.”
Ray said the judges look at the overall look of the book as well as its theme. Design, photography, coverage and writing are also taken into consideration.
“Yearbook is very competitive in Texas,” Ray said. “Westlake and Bowie High School also earned the gold.”
At the convention, Columbia Scholastic Press Association executive director Edmund Sullivan presented plaques to the winners who attended. Ray attended the convention to receive the plaque on behalf of the yearbook staff.
“It was such a wonderful moment for my students to receive recognition for their work, and I am so fortunate to work with incredible students,” Ray said. “The staff started planning the book almost a year ago. It’s amazing to me how a group of teenagers takes a concept and produces a publication that not only exemplifies scholastic journalism, but also tells the story of the year and serves as a keepsake that students will treasure for the rest of their lives.”
Ray attributes a lot of the book’s success to Halee Jorgensen, last year’s editor.
“She was incredible,” Ray said. “It wouldn’t have got where it was without her.”
Jorgensen, a freshman at Mary Hardin-Baylor, is already serving as the yearbook editor there.
“I am so fortunate to get to work every day with such amazing students,” Ray said. “We’re looking for them to tell the best story of Vista Ridge.”
She believes that her staff’s emphasis on writing also played a factor in their win.
“Our writing is something that sets us apart from others,” Ray said. “Writing has always been a passion of mine, I was a print journalism major. We focus on getting storytelling quotes, not the generic kind.”
Ray has served as yearbook advisor at Vista Ridge for eight years.
“Leander ISD is a great proponents of scholastic journalism,” she said.