2020 yearbook recognized for excellence in journalism

photo or infographic by Caleigh Nabors
ALL SMILES. A creative look at a half time show was captured in this photo honored with a Superior rating.

The top yearbook programs in Texas were honored by the Texas Association of Journalism Educators December 11, when the organization released the winners of The Best in Texas awards for yearbook. 

The awards were given for the 2020 yearbook. Advisers from all over the state sent in entries over 950 entries. They were judged by experts in the field from across the country.

“It is always hard to send something you worked so hard on to be judged by complete strangers,” adviser Emily Meachen said. “I tried to send things I felt could possibly gain recognition. I am just so proud of my staff for creating good content during a global pandemic. Everyone deserves an award.”

The highest award given by TAJE is Superior.  Only 116 entries were honored with this rating. Two 2020 graduates won Superior for their photos. Caleigh Nabors won for a photo featuring the Sweethearts at a football game. Demaris Pelayo also won top recognition for a photo from the band’s state sendoff. 

Winning Excellent accolades was junior Heather Jackson with a photo taken during the NHS Induction. The picture featuring Sgt Christopher Bell and his daughter senior Olivia Bell won for Human Interest Photo. 

“Winning the individual awards we so important to me because it felt like my hard work all last year finally paid off,” Jackson said. “It was acknowledgement that the work I did actually mattered.”

The yearbook staff as a whole also won an Excellent award for alternative copy for the spread titled “Dear Corona” featuring letters from seniors who lost part or all of their competitive season due to COVID-19.

“It was important to tell the stories of the seniors who were robbed of their senior season by the coronavirus,” Meachen said. “I was very impressed how those seniors submitted such honest and emotional writing passages.”

Current yearbook co-editor Sure Ibukun was recognized with 2020 editor Demaris Pelayo for their theme work and division pages.

“It was kind of surprising to win, to be honest, because yearbook is just a daily activity that I do, so to get an award for it was kind of weird, but also rewarding,” Ibukun said. “Yearbook is a lot of work, and creativity goes into it. It’s not just pictures and words. I don’t think people realize that.”

Other students who were recognized for their work were senior Avari Ford, 2020 grad Emily Holder and 2020 grad Kenia Grimaldo. Many staff members won multiple awards for their work. 

“I was very surprised to hear that I won an award,” Ford said. “I never felt my photos were that good.”

The 2020 book will also be entered into the Interscholastic League Press Conference awards which is associated with UIL. These awards will not be announced until the ILPC convention in May. 

“Winning group awards made me really proud of the work we did as a group,” Jackson said. “The yearbook is a group effort, and I know  we all worked so hard last year. That is why the group awards mean so much.”