Yearbook takes first in national competition

by Bob Gaetjens | Editor Published:

The Streetsboro High School 2013 yearbook has won the National Scholastic Press Association's nationwide competition, according to Streetsboro High School Yearbook Adviser Polly Dierkens.

"This was the first national contest we've entered," she said, explaining she hadn't entered national contests in the past because she wasn't sure how the staff would fare.

She said she learned about the win a few weeks ago. The contest is judged according to a 12-page rubric incorporating theme, depth of coverage, advertising, design, writing and editing, photography and more.

A judge in the contest herself, Dierkens said she's particularly proud of her staff's photographs and captions.

"I really feel like we had the best captions of any school that I judged," she said. "I'm so proud of our staff because we don't have a photojournalism class. They still come up with fantastic journalistic photographs. They just really have a great eye."

Catie Carey, a yearbook staff member this year and last, found out about winning the contest at work.

"I was just jumping around with joy," she said.

Alyssa Bielinski, another senior staff member who participated last year, said she was "really excited" to hear about the win, but said this year's yearbook may be even better than last year's yearbook.

"This year, I already feel we're doing so much better," she said.

Carey said excelling is a matter of discipline for staff members.

"Once we have our plan down, it's a matter of keeping on what we need to do," she said.

One of the keys to having strong captions and photos is having the photographer write the caption, said Carey and Bielinski.

"I feel it's important to shoot as much as possible," said Bielinski. "This year, just for [volleyball's] senior night, I shot 1,000 to 1,200 photos."

Of those, she said "maybe a dozen" were used. She said she shoots lots of photos "just to get the right emotion" from the subjects.

Dierkens said putting together an award-winning yearbook is "much harder" than doing the same with a newspaper because it involves creating a 160-page book over the course of nine months.

"It's a lot of time management," she said. "And you have to figure out a new theme every year."

The theme for the 2013 yearbook was "When Words Fail, Music Speaks." One of the reasons the theme was picked was high school's guest performance by Ingrid Michaelson, the reward for winning a video contest, featuring students at the school.

The theme for the 2014 yearbook is "Branching Out," which Dierkens said the staff chose as a tie-in with the district's school facilities plan.

The staff so far has sold nearly 180 2014 yearbooks, said Dierkens, but she'd like to see 300 sold.

The Streetsboro High School newspaper The Orbiter also won accolades this spring at the Ohio Scholastic Media Association's conference and contest April 4 and 5 at Kent State University, where the paper placed first and its staff members excelled in individual competitions, according to Dierkens.

See a future issue of The Streetsboro Gateway News for a full story.

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