M-CHS newspaper wins five top awards

‘Panther Press’ 1 of 9 schools to win

The Panther Press was one of nine West Slope high schools recently awarded at the 24th annual Colorado Mesa University media day.

The Montezuma-Cortez High School newspaper received one first-place award and four second-place awards from CMU’s mass communication department on March 3.

Judged categories included newspapers, yearbooks web pages, broadcasting, advertising, graphic design and photography. A total of 76 awards were bestowed.

The Panther Press received first-place for newspaper editorial, and second-place finishes for best overall newspaper, best advertising, news photography and sports writing.

“We are so excited about the awards we received this year,” said newspaper adviser Debra McVicker. “The awards are extremely important, because they recognize the students’ hard work and dedication.”

Published once a month, the school publication started the academic year with 12 student staff members. They toil up to five hours a week for four weeks, plus an eight-hour press day, to publish each edition. Because of those time strains, the paper is currently staffed with eight students.

“Many students find the elective class to be too demanding, and unfortunately, some decided to drop the class this semester,” said McVicker.

The theme for this year’s CMU conference, “Outside the Box,” focused on how media is evolving into multiple technology platforms. CMU mass communication program director Dan Flenniken said the conference aimed to remind western Colorado’s best young journalists that the future was theirs.

“Today’s high school students will be the inventors, designers and implementers of the next generation of media,” he said in a news release.

Grand Junction’s The Daily Sentinel sponsored the media day awards.

The Panther Press also competes for Colorado High School Press Association awards, including the Award of Merit, Award of Commendation and the All Colorado, the highest recognition.

In previous years, McVickers said the newspaper had received both the award for merit and commendation, but never with the top distinction.

“We are aiming to receive the All Colorado award this year,” McVickers said.

Panther Press editor-in-chief Abby Lock could not be reached for comment as of press time.