High School newspaper named a finalist for national award

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 25, 2013

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — The hard work and dedication in the newsroom at Grosse Pointe North High School has earned the school newspaper one of the highest distinctions in high school journalism.

The North Pointe is one of only six student newspapers across the nation in the broadsheet-with-eight-pages-or-fewer category to earn the distinction of being a finalist in this year’s National Scholastic Press Association’s Newspaper Pacemaker contest.

The other newspapers that were named finalists are in California, Indiana, New Jersey and Ohio. The winner will be announced during a convention in Boston in November.

“It’s really good to see that all of our hard work has paid off,” senior and newspaper Web Editor Marie Bourke said.

While taking home the Pacemaker Award would be a major honor for the students, they are in high spirits about being named one of the finalists. The newspaper is under the direction of advisor Shari Adwers.

Receiving recognition for outstanding reporting, design, photography and more is nothing new to newspaper students at North. Actually, they have quite a few awards as individuals and as a newspaper.

Yet, the excitement among the students about earning a spot as a finalist for what is considered the most prestigious award in high school news is perceivable.

“It’s crazy,” said senior Maria Liddane, editor-in-chief of the newspaper. “I was just elated. It’s really unbelievable to be in the top six in our category. It’s really remarkable, so it is just an honor to be recognized at that level.

“We have a really dedicated staff and quite a few upperclassmen who have been (involved) for a while,” she said. “Everyone has North Pointe as a priority.”

Liddane said she feels their hard work paid off when they were named finalists. If they won, that would be something extra.

“It will be exciting either way, though,” she said.

Other leaders on the newspaper also had positive remarks about the dedication of the staff and quality of the paper.

“It’s just consistently strong,” senior Kristen Kaled, design editor, said of the newspaper. “It’s such an honor. All the hard work and all the hours … is just paying off even just being nominated.”

“If you’re on staff, you have to be persistent and work hard,” said senior and Photo Editor Emily Huguenin, adding that the award means that “people are saying, ‘Yeah, you’re doing it right. You’re doing a good job.’”

They have high expectations on the North Pointe staff. Senior and Web Content Editor Lauren Semack said they treat it like a job.

“We all expect each other to do what we’re supposed to do,” senior Brigitte Smith, assistant photo editor, said.

Junior Haley Reid, assistant editor for news, said the staff members motivate each other.

“We work as hard as we do because we don’t want to let each other down,” staff reporter and junior Erica Lizza added.

It’s also a source of pride.

“Why put your name on something that’s not quality?” said senior and newspaper Business Manager Sydney Thompson.

While they motivate each other and compete with one another, they also work cohesively, which is key to the newspaper’s success.

“That’s kind of why we call North Pointe a family, because we all work together so well,” sophomore Emma Puglia, co-web manager, said. 

In 2009, the newspaper won the Pacemaker, but things were a bit more challenging last year because it was a year of transition. Adwers took over as the newspaper advisor, and there were a number of new students on staff.

“I was amazed that through a transitional year, that the staff was able to come together and pull it all off,” Adwers said. “It was a remarkable amount of hard work.”

When the news came, Adwers held a meeting but didn’t mention the focus of the meeting. She made the announcement with cake for a celebration, students said.

Senior Dayle Maas, production manager for the paper, said she was late to the meeting because she was conducting an interview. She walked into the excitement of the post-news celebration.

“I was a little shocked,” she said, adding that she’s looking forward to traveling to Boston to hear the winner announced. “I’m just excited and anxious to hear.”

“I thought we were in trouble,” senior Colleen Reveley, sports editor, said.

The students and their advisor weren’t the only ones excited about the news.

North Principal Kate Murray took pride in mentioning the news and the hard work the students have put into the newspaper.

“She does phenomenal work up there,” Murray said of Adwers.

A number of students are planning to make the trip to see if their newspaper wins. They’re raising money through advertising sales, but also taking donations from anyone who wants to help with the cause.

In the end, a familiar saying at North summed up the dedication, hard work and sacrifice to put out a good paper.

“This is what we do here,” junior Andrea Scapini, news editor, said.