GSPA awards top honors in high school journalism

The 2014 Georgia Scholastic Press Association (GSPA) Awards were announced April 25 at the University of Georgia, recognizing the best in high school journalism throughout the state.

Clarke Central High School in Athens earned two “All-Georgia” awards, GSPA's top honor for publications. Clarke Central won for Odyssey Newsmagazine as well as its news website, Odyssey Online. Henry W. Grady High School in Atlanta earned top honors for its newspaper, The Southerner. Also earning All-Georgia recognition was Decatur High School for its TV news broadcast show, The DEC, South Forsyth High School in Cumming for its yearbook, Aerie, and Roswell High School's literary magazine, Helicon.

“These programs, and especially their advisers and students, are to be commended for producing outstanding journalism over the academic year,” said Joe Dennis, director of GSPA, which is housed in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. “Each year the quality of high school journalism gets better in the state, so earning All-Georgia recognition is a significant accomplishment.”

GSPA holds its annual General Excellence competition each spring. This year, 75 publications entered the competition in their respective categories: newspaper, newsmagazine, news website, TV news broadcast, yearbook or literary magazine. Entries are judged by professional journalists and Grady College faculty. The top publications earn “General Excellence” status, and from those one “All-Georgia” is chosen in each category. Earning General Excellence status were the following publications:

· Newspaper – Henry W. Grady High School (Atlanta), The Southerner

· Newspaper – Pace Academy (Atlanta), The Knightly News

· Newspaper – Druid Hills High School (Atlanta), The Spotlight

· Newsmagazine – Clarke Central High School (Athens), Odyssey

· Newsmagazine – Decatur High School (Decatur), Carpe Diem

· News Website – Henry W. Grady High School, The Southerner Online

· News Website – Clarke Central High School, Odyssey Online

· News Website – North Forsyth High School (Cumming), The Raider Wire

· Broadcast TV news – Decatur High School, The DEC

· Yearbook – Woodward Academy (Atlanta), Phoenix

· Yearbook – North Hall High School (Gainesville), Trojan

· Yearbook – Starr's Mill High School (Fayetteville), The Pride

· Yearbook – South Forsyth High School (Cumming), Aerie

· Literary Magazine – Clarke Central High School, Iliad

· Literary Magazine – Roswell High School, Helicon

Jenny Alpaugh of Clarke Central High School was chosen as the “Georgia Champion Journalist,” GSPA's award for the state's top student journalist. Alpaugh serves as editor-in-chief of her school's publication Odyssey Newsmagazine, where she leads a staff of 50 students to produce the award-winning publication and website. Through her tenure at Odyssey, Alpaugh has won several awards for her writing and has complimented her journalistic pursuits with a resume that includes multiple academic achievements, including being selected for the 2013 Governor's Honors Program, being named an AP scholar and earning a Ramsey scholarship to attend the University of Georgia.

“Jenny Alpaugh has balanced an outstanding journalism career with top academic and athletic accomplishments,” Dennis said, noting that Alpaugh also ran for her school's varsity track team.

Ramona Griffin, adviser of The Silver Star at Shaw High School in Columbus, earned GSPA's “Adviser of the Year” award, while her publication earned the organization's “Freedom of the Press” award for reporting on several difficult issues in The Silver Star, which ultimately led to the school censoring the publication.

“Mrs. Griffin showed tremendous courage and encouraged her student to pursue issues of critical importance to its readership, such as the real effects of drug use, and weight and body image,” Dennis said. “She implements in her students not only the value of journalism, but the importance of serving your community.”

In addition to overall publication awards, GSPA distributed 130 individual awards in 41 different categories, recognizing the best individual journalistic pieces from students in categories focusing on writing, photography and production. A full list of winners is available online at, as well as a video featuring the awards announcement.

Founded in 1929 at the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, GSPA serves more than 3,000 high school journalism teachers and students throughout the state through conferences, workshops, publications and its annual awards competition.

Date: April 25, 2014
Author:  By Joe Dennis,