Student journalists in Las Vegas Valley honored

Dedication. Commitment. Quality.

Those characteristics set apart two Coronado High School seniors from their peers at this year’s Las Vegas Review-Journal High School Journalism Awards.

With grins plastered across their faces, Lizzy Hernandez and Devan Underwood squealed as they jumped up and down, congratulating each other on winning $2,000 scholarships for their work at R-Jeneration.

“I hate to say it, but I was not surprised,” said Nancy Thompson, their adviser at Coronado. “They see journalism as a craft that needs to be worked at, and they are willing to do the work.”

The scholarship winners joined dozens of other student honorees at the 35th annual awards luncheon, held at the Suncoast.

Green Valley High School’s The InvestiGator took first place for Best Newspaper Standard Format. Coronado High School and Liberty High School won second and third, respectively. Bishop Gorman’s The Lance won first place for Best Newspaper Reduced Format.

“I’m speechless to be honest,” said Jacqueline Becker, co-editor of Green Valley’s newspaper. “Words can’t describe it.”

The staff felt pressure to keep the “Best Newspaper” title at Green Valley for the eighth consecutive year.

“You never want to be the editors that lose it,” co-editor Joe Rajchel said.

Charlie Waters, an assistant managing editor at the Review-Journal, presented Green Valley High School with the top honor, saying, “This is the best high school-written newspaper I’ve read,” and added that he has been in the news business for more than 40 years.

Several members of the Review-Journal’s staff, who judged and presented the entries, said they were impressed with the quality of work the students submitted for the contest. The top honors, however, annually go to two seniors who not only participate on their high school staffs but on the R-Jeneration team, a group of high school students who produce weekly content for the Review-Journal.

“I’m so honored,” Hernandez said of her award. “I had no idea. It’s so amazing to know my work was appreciated.”

Hernandez said she has loved to write since she was young, so getting into journalism has been “smooth sailing.” She said she hopes to be a novelist, as well as a journalist at a big-name newspaper, in the future.

“I’m so passionate about journalism,” the 18-year-old said. “I just love telling stories. I love words. I love people.”

Next fall, Hernandez will attend the University of Colorado, Boulder. Underwood will attend the University of Nevada, Reno.

Underwood, 18, also won first place for Best Feature Photo. She said she still is deciding whether to focus on writing or photography while in college.

“I like that it’s not the same every day,” Underwood said of journalism. “You have a social responsibility to give the news. It’s actually important. People are going to read it. People are going to depend on it for their everyday lives.”

Contact Jessica Fryman at or 702-383-0264.

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