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West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

IHSPA awards 2 of its 5 top awards to West journalists, names WSS staff 2024 News Team of the Year finalist

WSS wins 74 individual awards

The Iowa High School Press Association announced five “Best of the Year” winners this week, with two of them coming to West High. IHSPA named Gianna Liu ’25 Photographer of the Year and Erinn Varga ’24 Designer of the Year.

IHSPA also named the WSS staff a 2024 News Team of the Year finalist for the eighth consecutive year. IHSPA determines finalists by choosing the schools with the highest number of individual award winners from its annual writing, photography, design and online contests. The WSS staff won a total of 74 individual awards, for a total of 424 points. IHSPA will announce News Team of the Year winners at its annual state conference in October.

The West Side Story staff accumulated 424 points from 74 individual wins. Points are assigned based on the number of first, second and third place individual awards.

First place winners:

  1. Social Justice Reporting: “Sudan’s struggle” by Reem Kirja, Jane Lam
  2. Interactive graphic: “E-pass” by Erinn Varga
  3. Illustration or Art: “Let’s Chat GPT” by Erinn Varga
  4. News Magazine – One Page Design: “Women of West” by Anna Song
  5. Environmental Portrait: “Phoebe’s speech” by Zoe Smith
  6. Single Web Story Design: “First date chronicles” by Jane Lam, Athena Wu
  7. In-Depth News Story: “Let’s Chat: GPT” Maya Chu, Heidi Du, Mrudani Ramkumar
  8. Online Innovation: Language options on wsspaper.com homepage by Muhammed Cikmaz
  9. Sports Feature photo: “Swimming celebration” by Gianna Liu
  10. Photographer of the Year: Gianna Liu
  11. Video News Show: “West High Weekly 9.12.23” by Abby Guo, Tessa Gibson, Yaya Orszula
  12. Sports Story — Game or Season Recap: “Diving a little deeper” by Erinn Varga
  13. Multimedia story – Feature: “ACT or SAT: Which exam is a good fit for you?” by Sam Rosenthal, Abby Guo
  14. Newspaper – Multiple Page Design: “Contraceptives” by Erinn Varga
  15. Multimedia story – Sports: “Rising stars” by Tyler Shane, Haneen Eltyeb, Minna Abdalla
  16. Multimedia story – News: “Recent ‘funnel’ deadline narrows bills in Iowa legislature” by Evelyn Kraber
  17. In-depth Sports Story: “Ready to wrestle” by Gianna Liu, Celia Sadewasser
  18. Infographic: “Tate overview” by Erinn Varga
  19. Designer of the Year: Erinn Varga
  20. Photo Story: “West High’s first homecoming parade” by Gianna Liu
  21. Social Media Promotion: West Side Story Staff
  22. Feature Story: “Women of West” by Zaira Ahmad, Mrudani Ramkumar, Gianna Liu
  23. Health/Science: “1-2-3, eyes on me” by Celia Sadewasser, Shanza Sami
  24. Podcasting: “Tech Talk: Let’s Chat: GPT” by Gianna Liu
  25. News Story: “Bendrew: The Debate Duo” by Gianna Liu
This photo, taken by Gianna Liu ’25 at the Boys Swimming and Diving State Tournament won first place Sports Feature Photo. Liu was also named Iowa’s Photographer of the Year for 2024. (Gianna Liu)

Second place winners:

  1. Videographer of the Year: Haneen Eltyeb
  2. Interactive graphic: ACT vs. SAT: Which is better for you?” by Sam Rosenthal
  3. Illustration or Art: March website banner by Vera Tanas
  4. News Magazine – One Page Design: “What’s West grateful for?” by Anna Song
  5. Online Innovation: “Advice column” by Muhammed Cikmaz
  6. Feature Photo: “Lily Polgreen” by Colin Wehrle
  7. Social Media Reporting: West Side Story Staff
  8. Video News Show: “West High Weekly 12.19.23” by Tessa Gibson, Haneen Eltyeb, Abby Guo
  9. Entertainment: “Sliced: Thanksgiving edition” by Haneen Eltyeb, Anna Greenlee, Evelyn Kraber
  10. Multimedia story – Feature: “Welcome to the madness” by Zoe Smith, Paige Albright
  11. Newspaper – Multiple Page Design: “Let’s Chat GPT” by Erinn Varga
  12. Multimedia story – Sports: “Last chance” by Minna Abdalla
  13. Infographic: “Chat GPT” by Erinn Varga
  14. Photo Story: “Protest for Perry” by Gianna Liu
  15. Health/Science: “Beauty Beyond Bodies” by Kamakshee Kuchhal , Gianna Liu
  16. Podcasting: “Dying to know” by Nicole Lee, Ashlyn Brady, Haneen Eltyeb
  17. News Story: “Iowa’s legislative session: what you need to know” by Evelyn Kraber
This design by Erinn Varga ’24 won first place Multiple Page Design. Varga was also named Iowa’s Designer of the Year for 2024. (Erinn Varga)

Third place winners:

  1. Ads: “Sensory Kids” by Anna Song
  2. Single Web Story Design: “Contraceptives” by Erinn Varga, Marie Stier
  3. In-Depth News Story: “Raise the stakes” by Zaira Ahmad, Zoe Smith, Henry Timmer-Hackert
  4. Multimedia story – Feature: “Thrift tips for Iowa City secondhand stores” by Jules Keranen, Eleanor Weitz
  5. Newspaper – Multiple Page Design: “Kirpes with a matematical purpose” by Anna Song
  6. Multimedia story – Sports: “Growing wings” by Marie Stier, Gianna Liu, Grace Bartlett
  7. Staff Editorial: “Broken identities” by Henry Timmer-Hackert
  8. Multimedia story – News: “West students protest recent gun violence” by Zoe Smith
  9. Infographic: “Contraceptives” by Erinn Varga
  10. Designer of the Year: Anna Song
  11. Feature Story: “Unsung heroes” by Yaya Orszula, Zoe Smith
  12. Personality Profile: “From West to the workplace: Boeing engineering” by Ashlyn Brady, Airi Thompson
The West Side Story staff won first place Social Media Promotion. Seniors Elena Garcia VanAuken and Tessa Gibson are the WSS social media co-editors. (Tessa Gibson)

Honorable Mentions:

  1. Ads: “Heyn’s” by Anna Song
  2. Interactive graphic: “Women of West interactive graphics” by Anna Song
  3. Interactive graphic: “Which Wes Anderson film are you?” by Nicole Lee
  4. Online Innovation: “Tooltip generator” by Muhammed Cikmaz
  5. Feature Photo: “Black excellence at West: Julian” by Josie Schwartz
  6. Video News Show: “West High Weekly 2.29.24” by Abby Guo, Yaya Orszula, Tessa Gibson
  7. Sports Story — Game or Season Recap: “West volleyball hosts annual Live Like Line Tournament” by Anna Song, Marie Stier
  8. Entertainment: “Repackaging girlhood and feminism” by Jules Keranen
  9. Newspaper – Multiple Page Design: “Raise the stakes” by Mckenna Stephens
  10. Opinion Writer of the Year: Nicole Lee
  11. Multimedia story – Sports: “Trojan Bolts break a state record and place 5th at State” by Gianna Liu
  12. Staff Editorial: “Editorial: Parking not permitted” by Gianna Liu
  13. Staff Editorial: “Herbi-more” by WSS Editorial Board
  14. Multimedia story – News: “Musicians take on All-State” by Anna Song
  15. Column/Opinion: “Criticisms to the chef” by Nicole Lee
  16. In-depth Sports Story: “Dancer dysmorphia” by Ashlyn Brady
  17. Web Design: “Wsspaper.com” by WSS Staff
  18. Reviews: “The return of Percy Jackson in ‘The Chalice of the Gods’” by Anna Greenlee, Vera Tanas
  19. Photo Story: “Orchestra Halloween concert” by Gianna Liu
  20. Feature Story: “Pageant personas” by Maddy Cook, Kamakshee Kuchhal
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About the Contributors
Gianna Liu
Gianna Liu, Print Sports and Photo Editor
(she/her) Gianna is a Junior and is starting her second year on staff! She is the Photo and Sports Editor this year for print, which is exactly what she loves to do: photography and volleyball! When she isn't doing those or writing, you will catch her binge-watching K-dramas, reading (fiction), biking or perfecting her skin-care routine.
Erinn Varga
Erinn Varga, Print Design and Opinion Editor
(she/her) Erinn is a senior at West and this is her second year on staff. She is the design editor and opinion editor for the print publication. If she's not currently running, you can find her drawing, listening to music or consuming media.
Tessa Gibson
Tessa Gibson, Profiles Editor
(she/her) Tessa is a senior this year and this is her 3rd year on staff. She is the profiles editor and one of the social media editors. She loves reality tv shows and ice cream.
Kevy Huynh
Kevy Huynh, Yearbook Staffer
Kevy Huynh is a junior at West and this is her second year on staff for yearbook. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, biking, playing with her two cats, baking, and watching Netflix.
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