For the third year in a row, Petaluma’s Casa Grande High School earned the top overall honor at The Press Democrat High School Journalism Awards.
The school’s Gaucho Gazette student newspaper won first place for overall excellence and nabbed six other first-place awards, the most of any school in the annual contest celebrated Monday at The Press Democrat printing facility in Rohnert Park.
Skyler Genelly, one of the editors-in-chief of the Gaucho Gazette, said the overall excellence award — which came with a $500 prize — was a testament to the staff’s consistent hard work, even amid the typical turnover and influx of new students that comes with every change in school years.
“One thing that’s stayed consistent is the work ethic of the kids that are in our class and just the drive that we all have to really make our paper the best that it can be,” Genelly said. “We’re really proud of everybody.”
After she graduates from Casa Grande this year, Genelly, 18, is bound for UC Santa Barbara, where she plans to study economics and is also interested in exploring journalistic opportunities there.
Tessa Hughes, the other editor-in-chief of the Gaucho Gazette, is headed for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she plans to study journalism. Hughes, 18, said she “just fell in love with it” when she joined Casa Grande’s journalism class her sophomore year.
“I always knew I needed a creative outlet when I went off to the workforce, and journalism kind of provides a structure,” Hughes said.
“I like the different platforms as well: magazine, newspaper, broadcast — I’m interested in it all, and so it gives me a way to explore all of those and do something I love.”
In the overall excellence category, The Dragon’s Tale from Sonoma Valley High School won second place while Santa Rosa High School’s student newspaper, The Santa Rosan, won third.
Santa Rosa High School students Hannah Appel and Geena Espinoza shared the first-place award for outstanding journalist, which also came with a cash prize of $500 total. Natasha Mardsen from Healdsburg High School won second-place in that category, while Alex Dodd from Petaluma High School won third.
You can reach Staff Writer J.D. Morris at 707-521-5337 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @thejdmorris.