Yearbook named Crown finalist for second straight year


Image used with permission from Columbia Scholastic Press Association

For the second time in as many years, the Helios staff earned Crown finalist honors but must wait until March to find out whether or not it will repeat as a Gold Crown winner.

Kate Yang, Editor-in-Chief

For a second consecutive year, a national journalism organization named the Helios yearbook a Crown finalist — the only program to receive the award in Orange County, and one of three programs in Southern California.   

“Being nominated a second time adds a bit of pressure to the current staff,” yearbook adviser Lindsay Safe said. “I want them to understand [that] if we do our job well and tell the stories of the year with great design, photography and writing, that’s all that really matters.” 

Last year, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association [CSPA] also awarded Helios’ 2018-2019 yearbook a Crown finalist nod on Halloween; the annual eventually received the highest prize, a Gold Crown, via a virtual awards ceremony in March.

Safe and two of her student editors were supposed to travel to New York to Columbia University to accept their plaque, but the trip was canceled after CSPA officials axed the awards ceremony and spring journalism convention because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

This is the first time in Safe’s 14 years as Helios adviser that her program has received such national recognition from back to back yearbooks. The program has never won consecutive Gold Crown awards from the CSPA in its 30 years.     

“I was scared that we weren’t going to receive the Crown award because our previous yearbook was so much to live up to,” said Kaylee Kim, one of Helios’ co-editor-in-chiefs during the 2019-2020 school year. “Even now, I don’t know if we will win Silver or Gold, but either way, I’m proud of our book and staff.”

Crown finalists in the yearbook category were released Dec. 4 via Twitter and later on the CSPA website. Helios was one of 41 total yearbooks nominated to receive either a Silver or Gold Crown in March 2021. No information was available as of Dec. 8 whether the CSPA will hold a live ceremony or a virtual one again, pending the situation with the COVID-19 crisis.

At the moment, Safe said she wants her staff to focus more on their task at hand instead of what type of award it would win next year.

“Our major source of motivation is creating a book for this year — a year like no other,” she said. “Students need to hold the yearbook 21 years from now, marvelling at the history they experienced.” 


The Accolade newspaper’s Oct. 30 PDF of a special section on the November elections earned it a third-place certificate in the Best of Show individual award category sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association [NSPA].

Titled “Photo Finish,” the five pages covered national, state and local election topics, including a special “King for a Day” spread in which the staff’s top editors took on the major issues affecting the nation, offering their solutions to such problems as immigration, cost of college tuition and climate change.

The Accolade holds the title as being the only Southern California journalism program to place in this category when the winners were announced Nov. 21 at the end of a virtual journalism convention that was supposed to be held in Orlando.

“I felt super excited when I heard about the achievement,” said The Accolade editor-in-chief senior Tyler Pak, one of three top editors to be named in receiving the award. “This issue will definitely be one to remember — both the stories written and the process of creating it were, in my opinion, historic.”

The election coverage category specifically focused on the 2020 presidential election’s impact on student audiences and opened submissions to print, broadcast and online student media outlets. 

“To know that we made the Top 3 in a contest open to all forms of student media substantiates the work the top editors and our special section editor [senior Hannah Kim] put in,” The Accolade newspaper adviser Tommy Li said. “I’m also very proud of the whole staff, too, because without everyone pitching in, we wouldn’t be able to even submit anything.”