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RJ recognizes top high school journalists in Clark County

Students in Spring Valley High School’s journalism program took the top honor at the 43rd annual Las Vegas Review-Journal High School Journalism Awards on Monday.

The staff of The Grizzly Growler, which was re-established four years ago, won the award for best standard-format newspaper, plus seven other first-place awards, three second-place awards and three third-place awards.

“To watch this grow from the ground up and get to this point, it’s definitely shocking,” Grizzly Growler Editor-in-Chief Donovan Souder said.

The Spring Valley senior has been part of the paper since his freshman year; he said previous editors-in-chief and the entire staff deserve credit for the wins.

“That’s the quality part of our staff: Everyone gets along and works well together,” said Souder, who took first place for headline writing and best sports feature. “… People stop us in the hall and thank us for our stories. It’s so amazing; people really read what we write and they care about it. It’s the best feeling.”

Laura Solsona won best news story for an article about a program to improve test scores at Spring Valley, and Noa Ortega won for humorous opinion writing for a how-to guide for dealing with family during holiday breaks.

“This really solidified that this is what I want to do when I graduate,” Solsona said.

As they clutched their awards, Ortega and Solsona excitedly announced that they’d never won first place in anything.

The staff of Green Valley High School’s The InvestiGator won the award for best newspaper in the reduced-format category.

“There’s a lot of pressure as EIC, because you’re taking on the responsibility of being first again,” Co-Editor-in-Chief Erinn Veach said, referencing previous years’ wins.

The staff took home four other first-place awards, for best sports news story, best page one design, best news photo and best feature photo, along with four second-place awards.

Clark County School District Superintedent Jesus Jara, who attended the ceremony at Palace Station, commended the students for the work they put into reporting, editing, photography and design. He also acknowledged the advisers and teachers who oversee the programs.

“What I see here today is the best of both worlds, because you’re going into the workforce or you’re going into college,” Jara said. “The skills you’re learning here through this process are skills that will earn you money right out of high school while having the ability to pursue your college education.”

Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said that when the awards began, fewer than 10 high schools in Southern Nevada had journalism programs. Now, there are more than 40.

He said the future of journalism is in good hands.

“The quality of work produced by these students never ceases to impress our staff,” Cook said. “There is terrific journalism taking place at high schools all over the valley, and we’re proud to honor the best of the best every year.”

Contact Max Michor at mmichor@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0365. Follow @MaxMichor on Twitter.

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