Winners of the 2018 Press Democrat high school journalism awards

Outstanding Journalist

1st: Hannah Appel and Geena Espinoza, Santa Rosa High School

2nd: Natasha Mardsen, Healdsburg High School

3rd: Alex Dodd, Petaluma High School

Overall Excellence

1st: The Gaucho Gazette, Casa Grande High School

2nd: The Dragon’s Tale, Sonoma Valley High School

3rd: The Santa Rosan, Santa Rosa High

Online Excellence

1st: The Gaucho Gazette, Casa Grande

2nd: Tiger Times, Analy High School

3rd: The Santa Rosan, Santa Rosa High

News Coverage

1st: The Dragon’s Tale, Sonoma Valley High

2nd: Griffin Epstein, Petaluma High 3rd: Tessa Hughes & Emma Pearce, Casa Grande

3rd: Ana Lara, Sonoma Academy High School


1st: Rebecca Wolff, St. Vincent de Paul High School

2nd: Star Mallamo, Santa Rosa High

3rd: Kate Peinkofer & Zea Roth-Sisley, Analy

Design & Layout

1st: The Gaucho Gazette, Casa Grande

2nd: The Santa Rosan, Santa Rosa High

3rd: The Dragon’s Tale, Sonoma Valley High

Photo: Feature / News

1st: Jessica Bynum, Healdsburg High

2nd: Ophelia Chiang, Casa Grande

3rd: Alex Hays, Santa Rosa High


1st: The Dragon’s Tale, Sonoma Valley High

2nd: The Gaucho Gazette, Casa Grande

3rd: The Santa Rosan, Santa Rosa High

Photo - Sports

1st: Andrew Gotshall, Casa Grande

2nd: Alison Perkins, Sonoma Valley High

3rd: Lucy Merrill, Santa Rosa High

Feature Story

1st: Martin Contreras & Aalyna Silva, Casa Grande

2nd: Sean Lopez & Polly Parakul, Casa Grande

3rd: Aliya Blinman & Raegan Cordero, Sonoma Valley High


1st: Jacob Anderson, Casa Grande

2nd: Langston Hay, Santa Rosa High

3rd: Lucy Carroll, Healdsburg High

Sports Story

1st: Skyler Genelly & Ashley Hancock, Casa Grande

2nd: Lindy Tweten, Analy

3rd: Lucia Garay, Casa Grande

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 On Twitter @thejdmorris.