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Spring Valley’s newspaper takes top honors in student journalism competition

CORRECTION: Saturday’s report on the 2016 Las Vegas Review-Journal High School Journalism Awards incorrectly reported why Spring Valley High School’s newspaper received the contest’s First Amendment Award. The staff received the award for challenging story edits ordered by Clark County School District administration and writing a letter defending speech and press freedoms.

Spring Valley High School’s newspaper took top honors at the 40th annual Las Vegas Review-Journal High School Journalism Awards Friday at the Suncoast.

In its first year in print, the Grizzly Growler received seven awards and an honorable mention, including first place for best newspaper, standard format, and best editorial.

In other major categories, Foothill High School’s Hillside Hotwire took first place for best newspaper, reduced format, and Coronado High School’s The Roar won first place for best news website.

The 30-student Spring Valley staff earned $3,500 by washing cars and selling food to get ink on the pages after being an online publication for seven years. They made time for their reporting, too. “We were going to give ’em a run for their money,” adviser Tara Verderosa, 26, said. “They blew me away.” Before becoming a teacher, Verderosa was a winner at the 2008 student awards. Because her experience as a Palo Verde High School journalist meant so much to her, she said, she wanted to lead the Grizzly Growler this school year.

“She brought it back to life,” Assistant Editor Sara Moore said.

The junior, 16, was honored as the newspaper’s most valuable staffer. She also won first place in feature writing for a story she did on teen anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

Grizzly Growler Editor-in-Chief Zach Oliver said Verderosa challenged students, too.

“She put us to work,” the junior said.

 

Oliver, 17, and Growler staff won the coveted First Amendment award for challenging story edits ordered by Clark County School District administration. They also wrote a letter defending freedoms of speech and the press.

Next year, 62 students are signed up to continue the newspaper’s work.

Las Vegas Review-Journal staffers judged entries from 19 high schools across Clark County.

About 300 people attended the awards ceremony in the Suncoast ballroom. Review-Journal Managing Editor Glenn Cook joked that senior Amanda Groom would need a suitcase to haul her eight awards back to Green Valley High School.

Groom, editor of the InvestiGator, said she learned a lot, leading a staff of 11 student journalists.

“I was like, ‘Wow this is fun,’” the 18-year-old said. “I couldn’t have done it without my classmates.”

Contact Amy Nile at anile@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @AmyNileReports on Twitter.

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