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CHS newspaper wins first Palmetto Award in 14 years

Posted: May 10, 2013 7:20 p.m.
Updated: May 13, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Camden High School’s (CHS) Palmetto Leaf newspaper staff won a total of eight awards from the South Carolina Scholastic Press Association (SCSPA) in April. For the first time since 1999, the Leaf won the Palmetto Award for its class level, Class 1, according to newspaper advisor Amy Goodwin. This is Goodwin’s first year back at CHS; she is a CHS graduate and previously taught at the school. Goodwin has been a newspaper advisor for about 19 years.

The Palmetto Leaf staff consists of six students: Breanna Dent, Alexya Allen, Hannah Jones, Dymear Atkinson, Timothy King and Kayleigh Gates.

The Palmetto Award is awarded to newspapers for superior writing, design and overall format in each class. Class 1 schools are those with up to 1,350 students. The Leaf also won a Superior evaluation rating among Class 1 newspapers

It was also named the Most Improved Newspaper overall, and won a Class A (for student populations of fewer than 1,550) first-place nod for a centerspread, where a feature covers two facing pages.

Breanna, a 10th grader, won two first place awards in Class A for front page design and layout; Allen, an 11th grader, won third place for review writing; fellow 10th grader Hannah Jones won third place in the art division for a cartoon.

Goodwin said the students took a month to perform a complete redesign of the Palmetto Leaf. The students have only been student journalists since January and produced only one issue of the paper this semester. Goodwin said the production class will be held in the fall next year and she expects the class size to double. CHS will offer Journalism I next spring, a non-production introductory class. Goodwin encourages students to write about things that interest the student body, she said.

“This class is very hands on. When a student doesn’t know how to do something, we sit down one-on-one until we create something,” Goodwin said. “My goal is to increase the newspaper staff. I think the awards we won this spring will boost enrollment.”

The class said it didn’t expect to win any awards at the SCSPA recognition because they only produced the one issue, but are proud to see the benefits of the work they did this semester.

Alexya said she’s learned to enjoy the newspaper class, although she was initially hesitant to sign up. Timothy said his English teacher encouraged him to join the newspaper staff. Goodwin said Timothy has been motivated to model some of his graphic designs on designs he sees in day-to-day life.

“I didn’t think I would like it, but I like that you get to use your creativity to write and create graphics,” he said

Goodwin said it is important to have a newspaper on the high school level, so that students know that newspapers aren’t dead.

“There is still a place for reporting; students needs to read and learn to tell stories in different ways,” Goodwin said. “Kids who take journalism classes do better in a variety of areas because there is so much research involved; they learn to be critical thinkers.”

Goodwin, who also teaches English, said this year’s production class has been relaxed and fun.

The Palmetto Leaf staff will debut a website the staff has been working on this year during the 2013-14 school year. Students interested in being on the newspaper staff in the fall can join without taking Journalism I, with advisor or administrator approval, Goodwin said.

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