Columbia Scholastic Press Association awards The Accolade its third Silver Crown


A screenshot of part of the virtual Crown awards presentation Friday, March 18, from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association [CSPA], which announced The Accolade as earning a Silver Crown — the journalism program’s third such award since the 2005-2006 school year. CSPA officials chose to highlight the cover of the April 30, 2021, issue with judges’ comments displayed to the right.

Irene Sheen, Special Sections Editor

The third time didn’t end up being the charm for The Accolade journalism program as it was recognized before spring break as a Silver Crown winner by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association [CSPA] during a virtual awards presentation.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t break through with a Gold Crown for the issues we worked on last year,” said Accolade adviser and English teacher Tommy Li. “But like I told my Accolade students, at least this will give us a goal for the future to see if we can win our first highest award from the CSPA judges.”

Although the Friday, March 18, video presentation had started at 11 a.m., it announced Crown winners in alphabetical order. That allowed the fifth period Advanced Journalism class consisting of The Accolade staff members to watch the virtual ceremony and listen to the announcer give a Silver Crown for issues produced during the 2020-2021 school year. 

“I was really proud of the fact that we were able to be recognized nationally with the Silver Crown through the hard work we’ve done in the last school year,” editor-in-chief senior Michelle Sheen said. “I hope we can continue this legacy by working even harder these last few months of the 2021-2022 school year.”

Awarded a Silver Crown two times back in 2006 and 2020, The Accolade stands as the only Orange County publication and online website to receive a Crown nomination this year and one of four Southern California publications awarded a Silver Crown under the “High School Hybrid News” category.


For the Orange County Journalism Education Association’s [OCJEA] annual writeoff contest, The Accolade placed second for Best of Show Division 1 – print publications with 25 or more students on staff – and second again for the Southern California Journalism Education Association’s [SCJEA] All-Stars contest.

“I’m so glad we were able to come in second in print,” Sheen said. “I hope the next year will be able to grow from this experience and make it a goal for them to place even higher.” 

The Accolade placed second for online Best of Show (announced at the OCJEA write-offs), while it earned third for SCJEA All-Stars news website.

“The competition was stiff, and we just weren’t the best in OC or Southern California this year, but that doesn’t take away from what we have done,” online editor-in-chief senior Kristima Aryal said. “We can only grow from here.”

At the Saturday, Feb. 26 OCJEA writeoff contest — held live at Portola High School in Irvine for the first time since February 2020 — The Accolade placed third in sweepstakes.

Portola High School ended up sweeping all the top awards for Best of Show as well as the writeoff sweepstakes based on how well its 10-member team did in news, editorial, feature and sports writing categories.

The Accolade staff that competed in the March 12 Student Media Writing Contest at Maywood Center for Enriched Studies hold up their certificates and medals March 14 in Room 138, The Accolade room.

At the Saturday, March 12, SCJEA write-offs — also held live at Maywood Center for Enriched Studies for the first time since March 2019 — Woodbridge High School in Irvine ended up winning the sweepstakes award with Van Nuys High School’s The Mirror taking first place for All-Stars for print and Portola’s The Portola Pilot winning the top spot for online.

The following staff members earned individual awards: senior Anthony Keem (critical review – sixth place at OCJEA); junior Rebekah Kim (feature photography – sixth place at SCJEA); senior Kristel Laceste (sports photography – second place at SCJEA); sophomore Hannah Lee (novice news – excellent at SCJEA); junior Henry Lee (sports – fifth place at OCJEA, ninth place at SCJEA); junior Chariti Li (editorial cartoon – eighth place at OCJEA, third place at SCJEA); junior Grace Min (sports – fifth place at OCJEA, fourth place at SCJEA); senior Andrew Park (critical review – eighth place at SCJEA); senior Michelle Sheen (feature – seventh place at OCJEA, sixth place at SCJEA); senior Rachel Yun (sports – fourth place at OCJEA, eighth place at SCJEA).

Although this will be Sheen’s last year of eligibility to compete, she hopes the staff’s turnout at these contests will improve in coming years. 

“Anyone who decides to compete at the regional or state-wide write-offs should keep in mind that the experience of writing, taking pictures or creating art for the competition, is more valuable than winning an award,” she said. “With that being said, I want to encourage more of our staff members to step out of their comfort zone and represent The Accolade at these local and statewide contests.”