2 Accolade issues earn Top 10 recognition in National Scholastic Press Association’s Best of Show contests


Accolade Image File

The Accolade’s Feb. 19 (left) and March 13 issues received Top 10 recognition in a recent Best of Show contest sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association during a virtual spring journalism convention in April.

Susie Kim, News Editor

The Accolade placed third at the Spring National High School Journalism Convention’s Best of Show contest for Tabloid newspapers, 16 pages or fewer, with the Feb. 19 “Broken Boundaries” issue and eighth in the Special Edition category with the March 13 “One Year Later” issue. 

“Compared to the state writeoffs, we competed against more schools in Best of Show at the national convention, so it is a very big achievement for The Accolade,” editor-in-chief [EIC] senior Tyler Pak said. “Rather than just schools in California, we compete against student papers all across the country.”

Sponsored by the National Scholastic Press Association [NSPA], the Best of Show competition allows high school journalism programs that paid for admission to the virtual convention to electronically submit their newspaper PDF issues to be judged by an anonymous group of evaluators.

Besides The Accolade, only two other California journalism programs earned Top 10 in the Tabloid, 16 pages or fewer, category with Sacramento Country Day School’s The Octagon placing sixth and Redondo Union High School’s High Tide coming in first place, according to a virtual awards presentation posted April 10. The previous high for The Accolade in an NSPA Best of Show contest in this category was in the fall of 2019 when the program’s first issue of that year placed sixth.

One magazine from California, Palo Alto High School’s Anthro!, placed sixth for Special Edition with Blue Valley Northwest High School’s The Express in Kansas winning a trophy for first place. 

Pak left bits of regret thinking about the mistakes made and said he hopes to learn from them, but nevertheless felt glad to place among a few other Californian schools.

“I was super excited [to see the results],” he said. “I think this is the highest we have ever placed at the National Scholastic Press Association, and it was nice to get our work validated.” 

Special sections editor senior Hannah Kim said the “Broken Boundaries” issue was the most challenging this school year because it addressed a controversial topic that arose over social media the previous summer.

“Not every paper is willing to address such sensitive topics, but the extra effort we put into cooperating with the administration was well worth it, and the judges seem to agree,” said Kim, who felt proud of the issues put out this year. “We did not cover Valentine’s in our February issue because it’s been done over and over again; we find out what the news is among our student body, and we cover that to ensure our audience is interested and excited to read our stories.”

Accolade adviser Tommy Li said the Sunny Hills journalism program is picking up steam as Li is wrapping up his fifth year of guiding his students after taking nearly a decade-long break.

“It’s great to see that we’re inching up our placement in Best of Show, and our goal is to some day take first place as well as earn a Pacemaker nomination from the NSPA like our awesome yearbook program has done in recent years,” Li said. “But only dedicated students will make this happen, and hopefully in the years to come we will be able to continue to attract and keep them in journalism. Meanwhile, the staff I have now certainly deserves praise for earning such national recognition.”