The Accolade’s online site named finalist for first time in LA Press Club’s SoCal Journalism Awards contest


The Accolade adviser Tommy Li submitted the Oct. 30 “Photo Finish” (left) and Dec. 14 “Wonder Women 2021” PDF print issues to the Southern California Journalism Awards contest sponsored by the Los Angeles Press Club and was named a finalist for Best High School paper for a fifth year straight.

Susie Kim, News Editor

For the first time, The Accolade’s online platform has been named a finalist for Best High School News Website in the Los Angeles Press Club’s 63rd annual Southern California Journalism Awards.

“I remember seeing my name on the list of Best High School News Website finalists on Aug. 11 and thinking, ‘Woah, that’s me; that’s my name,’” said Andrew Ngo, last year’s Accolade web editor-in-chief. “But it is weird — we are still winning awards, and I have not been part of The Accolade since last May — three months since I left the newspaper team.”

Since The Accolade brought home awards in various competitions, such as the spring National Scholastic Press Association convention’s Best of Show contest, Ngo felt his confidence about the website increase and knew that he and his staff could, once again, produce top-notch results and be recognized as a finalist for the SoCal Journalism Awards.

“I go into every competition expecting us to win, and I think that is the mentality that has been instilled in us,” he said. “It just lets us show what we do in The Accolade.”

This is the second year that the Press Club has created a separate category for Best High School News Website, The Accolade adviser Tommy Li said. Before that, any high school online entries deemed a finalist would be grouped with college online finalists, which usually made it more difficult for any high school journalism program to win the first-place trophy, with a The Accolade engraving.

Since the 2020-2021 school year was The Accolade online’s third year of existence under Li’s supervision, the adviser said he was more confident in submitting it for consideration in the Press Club’s SoCal Journalism Awards contest.

The Accolade online is among four other finalists, including Van Nuys High School’s The Mirror, which won the top prize last year.


For a fifth consecutive year, The Accolade was named a finalist in the Best High School Newspaper category.

“Our top editors last school year deserve praise for taking on the challenge of making sure our staff continued our tradition of producing high quality work despite our school being in distance learning a majority of the year,” Li said. “Even though I am sure other programs named finalists had similar struggles, I just hope that those who judged these categories will see how our coverage stood out above the rest.”

Li submitted on April 12 two entries for the Best High School Newspaper category, the Oct. 30, 2020 issue, “Photo Finish,” and the Dec. 14, 2020 issue, “Wonder Women 2021,” but the Press Club did not indicate which issue The Accolade was nominated as a finalist for.

The Accolade came in second last year behind San Gabriel High School’s The Mandator, which was also named a finalist this year along with three other newspaper programs.

“To be a finalist for a fifth consecutive year in the newspaper category just goes to show how much we have maintained our consistency in producing L.A. Times-quality work,” Li said. “Even though we won the first-place trophy the first two years that we entered this contest, the ultimate prize has eluded us since, so hopefully this year, the results will be different, and we will be able to bring home our third trophy.”

After being notified by Li about the results, 2020-2021 editor-in-chief [EIC] Tyler Pak was not surprised because he was aware of the staff’s dedication to producing each award-winning issue.

“It is an honor to have been the EIC and nominated for this award,” Pak said. “Knowing how much effort we put into the newspaper, especially during the pandemic, everything was 10 times more difficult. To still maintain this level of excellence in The Accolade was a huge accomplishment.”

Pak recalled that The Accolade was first nominated as a finalist for the SoCal Journalism Awards in his freshman year in 2017 and, since then, he said he set a goal to continue those achievements.

The Accolade has a tradition of excellence, so as an EIC, my goal was to either meet or exceed that tradition,” said Pak, who is currently studying abroad in Italy as part of a USC program. “And I think we did a good job in doing that.”

Winners will be announced Oct. 16 during a dinner/awards ceremony at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA, although the event may go virtual depending on what happens with COVID-19’s spread of the Delta variant.