West Side Story staff receives Pacemaker award

WSS also snags 3 first place individual awards, places in top 10 for newsmagazine and website, plus more


The 2021-2022 WSS print staff. Front row: Aria Khalil, Soomin Koh, Athena Wu, Hanah Kitamoto, Jack Alden, Sachiko Goto, Zoey Guo, Jane Lam, Rosemary Timmer-Hackert, Miguel Cohen Suarez Middle row: Zaira Ahmad, Kailey Gee, Caroline Mascardo, Katherine Shoppa, Maya Chu, Heidi Du, Krisha Kapoor, Defne Bayman, Caroline Barker, Kamakshee Kuchhal, Ella De Young Back row: Will Cheng, Xiaoyi Zhu, Lilly Graham, Eva Jordan, Sila Duran, Ruba Ahmed-Abdelmutalab, Lily Prochaska, Misha Canin, Owen Aanestad Not pictured: Grace Huang, Ginger McCartney, Sofia Wells-Lu, Helen Zhang

Honoring the nation’s best, National Scholastic Press Association named West Side Story one of its 29 prestigious Pacemaker winners Saturday, which honors scholastic student newspapers, newsmagazines and specialty magazines.

“The Pacemaker is the association’s preeminent award,” Executive Director Laura Widmer said. “NSPA is honored to recognize the best of the best.”

In addition to demonstrating excellence in key areas including coverage, writing, editing, design and photography, the winning newspapers took risks and served as a strong voice for its student audience. 

“With the pandemic impacting schools across the country, many of the papers and magazines submitted for the competition were produced with student journalists working under very challenging situations,” said Gary Lundgren, associate director and coordinator of the competition. “The high-quality journalism these publications provided, against all odds, is remarkable.” 

In this competition, only the print news product was judged. A separate NSPA Online Pacemaker competition will recognize online news sites in April. Several schools earned Pacemaker honors for both their print and online products.

The WSS staff also won a record-breaking number of first place awards in NSPA’s individual award contests, including Multimedia Sports Story of the Year for “Broken season” by Alaina Greenlee ’23, Krisha Kapoor ’23, Hanah Kitamoto ’22 and Tosh Klever ’21, Sports Game/Action Photo of the Year for a photo of Amre Ibrahim ’23 in “Trojans come up short in state championship” by Owen Aanestad ’22 and Sports Story of the Year for “Beyond the binary” by Kitamoto and Caroline Mascardo ’22.

Zoey Guo ’22 received fourth place Design of the Year: Newsmagazine Page/Spread for New name, same game.”

Aanestad received fourth place Portfolio of the Year: Photojournalist of the Year and honorable mention Photo Slideshow for “Trojan football team shuts out Liberty in season opener.”

Kailey Gee ’22 received fifth place COVID-19 Coverage / Online: News or Features for “On call: students, siblings and learning online,” and honorable mention Portfolio of the Year: Artist of the Year.

The WSS staff received honorable mention for Best Use of Social Media: Social Media Promotion.

NSPA also announced its Best of Show winners Saturday, recognizing both West Side Story’s print and web staff — with WSS winning second in Newspaper/Newsmagazine and ninth in Website. Maya Chu ’23, Heidi Du ’23 and Soomin Koh ’22 also won first place Social Justice Reporting for “The price to play.”

Journalism Education Association announced its National Student Media Contest winners Saturday, and both Aanestad and Kitamoto received honorable mention for Graphic Design: Photo Illustration and Sports Writing, respectively.