SMSD Journalists Earn National Recognitions

SMSD Journalists Earn National Recognitions
Shawnee Mission School District

The strength of SMSD journalism is in the national spotlight.

This spring, multiple honors have been presented to Shawnee Mission high school journalists. Shawnee Mission is home to the 2021 national Journalist of the Year. Shawnee Mission student publications have also been recognized for representing the best of the best of scholastic journalism. 

National Journalist of the Year

Riley Atkinson, a  2021 graduate of Shawnee Mission East, was named Journalism Education Association (JEA) Journalist of the Year, making her the top student journalist in the country. Atkinson was also named the Kansas Student Journalist of the year in February by the Kansas Scholastic Press Association. Atkinson served as copy editor and online co-editor for the SM East student newspaper. In addition to her strong portfolio, she was recognized for how she led a core group of staff members to continue to publish during the pandemic.

“Every part of your portfolio demonstrates that you are the kind of editor every school publication should have,” stated Bretton Zinger, MJE, of Massachusetts, one of 22 Journalist of the Year jurors. “You produce outstanding work, but you also coach young staffers and develop systems and procedures that push the program in the right direction for after you are gone, ” shared Zinger.

As the top winner Atkinson earned a $3,000 scholarship and plans to attend the University of Arkansas to study advertising and public relations.

The Pacemaker 100

The National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), in celebration of its 100th anniversary, is recognizing the top 100 publications honored with Pacemaker awards during the association’s history. The Pacemaker is considered the top prize of scholastic journalism. Here are highlights from the results shared by NSPA:

·   Shawnee Mission Northwest’s Lair Yearbook earned the top recognition with 23 Pacemakers and 3 Pacemaker Finalists.

· The Shawnee Mission North High School yearbook and Shawnee Mission East High School yearbook earned fourth and ninth place, respectively.

· The Shawnee Mission East newspaper/newsmagazine and online publication as well as the Shawnee Mission Northwest newspaper/newsmagazine also were recognized among the Top 100.

The Shawnee Mission School District community is proud of these accomplishments, Dr. Ryan Flurry, coordinator of career and technical education stated.

“It is acknowledgement of what we know to be true: We have amazing students being mentored by the best journalism teachers in the country,” Dr. Flurry expressed.