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2021 Mark of Excellence Winners

Broadcast Categories

News Story

First Place: Stuart Beaton, Ethan Meadows; WBHS 9, Brentwood High https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVzBWp5u-Qg

Second Place: Kayden Mulrooney; Atherton on Air, Atherton High School https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBqNmJeotqg

Third Place: Nina Kovach; Mustang TV News, McCracken County High School https://youtu.be/f-aaamQ52R8

Judge's comments: The content of these stories set them apart from the rest of the entries. I was looking from great interview subjects that was paired well with good b-roll shots, as well as script-writing that moves the story along. Great shots and footage played a huge roll in to what I was looking for, but mainly an overall good put-together piece. Each of these entries were well done! I had a hard time determining which entry placed. On the first place entry - wow, such a good piece, the vulnerable interviews is what set this story a part from the rest. The subject sells the emotion, and the reporter telling this story does a good job of letting the interviewees tell the story.


Sports Story

First Place: Macy Hedenberg, Ruby Smith, Anna Lucy Surrey; HHS Film and Broadcasting, Highlands High School https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtk-8u8Y4QQ

Second Place: Owen Phillips; Ballard Cinematography & Video Production, Ballard High School https://youtu.be/12HDx6v9l9M

Third Place: Chad Barker; WBHS 9, Brentwood High https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEvxTLnanjk

Judge's comments: The winner has the best understanding of a sports story compared to a sports hype reel. They let soundbites tell the story rather than trying to push the story along with their own voiceovers. I was surprised with the some of the overall quality of the shots in the stories. They all have good b roll and good shots for their interviews (correct lead room/right amount of headroom).

Feature Story

First Place: Leading Change with a Net Zero School; Bailey Childress and Bradley Riggs; The REEL, Hardin County Early College and Career Center EC3 https://youtu.be/-Xe3zPxMaPs

Second Place: Aubree Mullican; WBHS 9, Brentwood High https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebXv734CjDM

Third Place: Marisa Bohan, Paige Ossege, Caitlyn Morgan, Beckett Wiswell; HHS Film and Broadcasting , Highlands High School https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQVXLLQJuaY

Judge's comments: I paid attention to subject choice, how well the subject was covered, editing, scriptwriting, and videography (especially interviews and B-roll). I judged these both as a traditional news broadcast feature and as a film style feature. I also paid attention to how the story flowed and how well it kept the audience's attention. What really set these apart were their attention to detail. It was a VERY close call between these three, but the excellent use of graphics and the well shot interviews are what put first place over the edge. Out of all the entries, what really surprised me the most was the amount of creativity I saw. This of course was a year filled with Covid and quarantine and a lot of these entries found creative ways to work around obstacles. There were some very close contenders for the top slots and definitely some honorable mentions. Everyone should keep up the great work!


News Videography

First Place: Marisa Bohan, Paige Ossege, Caitlyn Morgan; HHS Film and Broadcasting , Highlands High School https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRXieotobAE

Second Place: Eliza Linney; WBHS 9, Brentwood High https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVFM5QIeA4o&t=18s

Third Place: Kyler Adams, Brenden Evers; Mustang TV News, McCracken County High School https://youtu.be/DVVJ2lJ7fUw

Judge's comments: The American Sign Museum was very impressive, I thought you were going for a completely Natural Sound PKG, but even though you did talk at the end, I was still very impressed. I liked how it is shorter but you still get the complete story. Many other entries dragged on for to long but yours feels like the perfect length and I would air this on any news station.


Music Video

First Place: Michael Dementjves; Cooper Now, R K Cooper High School https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-FAsIYK9HQiSPQxvFxQmvUdwu_wC2S9K/view?usp=sharing

Second Place: Braxin Carico - SCTV; Stewarts Creek TV, Stewarts Creek High School https://youtu.be/4J9CpjYxqDM

Third Place: Mary Spagnuolo; Atherton on Air, Atherton High School https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp7TPFiuE0

Judge's comments: What set these three winners apart was concept originality, successful cohesive storytelling, and quality video production and editing techniques that exceeded my expectations. In all of these videos a clear story/theme, that was original and entertaining was shown through interesting shots and creative editing styles. The first place entry specifically used a wide array of creative shots, including drone shots and canted angels, that closely related to the theme of leaving high school behind as well as the vibe of the song. By also making the video black and white helped tell the story in a needed way. The creativity in this video went beyond. The second place entry used a wide array of creative shots as well that aligned perfectly with the lyrics in the song. There was also a great use of nat sound that stood out in this entry, it added a lot to the story and gave it more of the vibe of a "country" music video. Cutting to the music at the right moments is also seen in a nice way in this video. 
In the third place entry editing style specifically stuck out to me. The shots were cohesive and flowed in a way that pulled the story along nicely. Very well done. While I feel like more could have been done with the overarching story, it still was a very well put together video


Narrative Film

First Place: David Allsep; Franklin TV & Film, Franklin High School https://youtu.be/K2oaXqXJbS0

Second Place: Noah True, Eliza Linney, Keaton Hardwick; WBHS 9, Brentwood High https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtgfvdDvOEQ

Third Place: Evan Huber; Mustang TV News, McCracken County High School https://youtu.be/3eunMa8epiw

Judge's comments: The winner had a clear, concise narrative. All three were engaging stories that were executed well.


Best High School Broadcast

First Place: WBHS 9, Brentwood High https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBbkf7OmInY&t=3s

Second Place: HHS Film and Broadcasting, Highlands High School https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eHISHiMWWw&t=885s

Third Place: Mustang TV News, McCracken County High School https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ek6NtS-T6nA

Judge's comments:

As I realize not every school as the same technology and access to studio, I mainly was looking for the script writing and flow of the shows. It is important in news that the story is cohesive - story flow and making connections between PKG is important!!! I was also looking for professionalism from each broadcast. The quality of the stories is also just as important as story flow - if a story doesn't make sense, don't put it in the rundown!

With that being said, the winners' writing and professionalism truly set them apart. It was very hard for me to determine distinction among the six, but WBHS really stood out and went above and beyond. Each of their stories was well written and paired with excellent interviews. HHS had great live shots and stand-ups!!! These stand-ups are drilled into our brains as reporters and it's what future employers look for!

I understand that some of these schools are not in person, so everything must be done virtually. And wow - the commitment from each school surprised me. You can tell how much work each student puts in to each broadcast. Keep up the good work all around!


Newspaper/Magazine/Online Categories

News Story

First Place: Sadie Bograd; Wendy Turner, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School https://pldlamplighter.org/news/2021/03/11/legislators-threaten-student-and-teacher-roles-on-state-board-of-education/

Second Place: Satchel Walton and Cooper Walton; Manual RedEye, duPont Manual High School https://manualredeye.com/90096/news/local/police-training-hitler-presentation/

Third Place: Morgan Daniels; The Rebellion, Boone County High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/9.pdf

Judge's comments: The news stories that immediately grabbed my attention in the headline and lead with an issue/event that has an impact on me as a reader, and then immediately gave context in the nut graph, were the stories that set the winners apart. To read a news story, you have to have some incentive. The winners have stories that I would need to read to gain that specific information, and they published them in a timely matter, so it seems. I was looking for stories I thought would be relevant to their readership and stories that had excellent reporting and news gathering. I was surprised by the news gathering in a lot of the stories — it was very impressive. I went in with the expectation that these were high school students getting into journalism, yet some of the reporting felt very professional. I appreciate the thoroughness; it's necessary in journalism and is a great practice to have early on. Some of the news stories felt a bit more like feature stories, or at least news features (which were incomparable to some of these hard news stories), so I would just suggest focusing on the stories most important to your readers and trying to be as succinct as possible in your writing.


Feature Story

First Place: Julianna Russ; The Hilltopper Online , Highlands High School https://hhsjournalism.com/sports/2020/10/13/with-privilege-comes-responsibility-three-soccer-players-take-a-knee-protesting-institutionalized-racism/

Second Place: Keelin Davis; Livewire, Bullitt East High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/60.pdf

Third Place: Carlie Clements; The Central Times, Central Hardin High School https://chhsnews.com/4764/features/students-learning-experience-during-a-global-pandemic/

Judge's comments: The winners were chosen because of their attention to detail in reporting and writing. Each had a good variety of sources that shared contrasting opinions from the members within their communities. They made sure not to include their own biases in the stories and elevate the perspectives of their topics. The winners also thought outside of the box when choosing their subjects. When judging, I looked for interesting story subjects, a variety of sources, a good sense of voice, and correct formatting and AP style.



First Place: Samuel Colmar; The Rebellion, Boone County High School https://bchsrebellion.com/4003/opinion/ignore-social-media-and-listen-to-experts-on-effectiveness-of-covid-19-vaccine/

Second Place: Max He; PLD Lamplighter, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School https://pldlamplighter.org/opinion/2020/03/02/being-chinese-during-the-covid-19-outbreak/

Third Place: Hemi Bell; Purple Gem, Bowling Green High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/55.pdf

Judge's comments: What set the winners apart was a strong opening paragraph that both draws in a reader and informs them what the article is going to be about. Since most readers have a shorter attention span, its important to start with something that sets the article's tone and demonstrates what the rest of the article is like. All of these winners have a solid hook that leads a reader through what the article is going to be like while being able to stand on their own.

In addition to this hook I was also looking for arguments that seemed solidly founded and addressed potential counterpoints as in another debate. Though this last point could not be applied to all of the articles, it was especially important for those it did apply to. For the non-informational pieces I focused instead on how unique and interesting these perspectives were, and how they provide an alternative view of what might be a well-tread topic.

I was actually surprised by how unique and interesting some of the articles with a non-informational focus were, and hope that none of the participants are discouraged by their placement, as these articles were overall well-written pieces of work that could simply use some more fine-tuning at critical points.

An issue that I found was a lack of citation when referring to information from outside sources. This problem was not particularly common and does not apply to the less-informational pieces, however it is extremely important for a newswriter to bring in other voices whenever it can be done naturally to support their claims, even in opinion-based pieces. This proved to be the tiebreaker for the first-place piece.


Review or Column

First Place: Ella Williams; PLD Lamplighter, Paul Laurence Dunbar https://pldlamplighter.org/a-and-e/2021/03/04/vegan-ice-cream-not-to-be-dismissed/

Second Place: Justin Farris; Manual RedEye, duPont Manual High School https://manualredeye.com/90993/opinion/it-could-happen-here-sheds-light-on-how-close-america-is-to-falling-apart/

Third Place: Katey Goins; Livewire, Bullitt East High School https://www.belivewire.com/7538/opinion/review-of-davonte-jollys-film-godspeed/

Judge's comments: The reviews and columns that stood out as the best had a clear idea being conveyed by the writer with a hint of their own personal voice through an organized structure with a logical flow that kept information from becoming repetitive.


Sports Story

First Place: Adrienne Sato; Manual RedEye, duPont Manual High School https://manualredeye.com/89201/sports/addison-evers-aiming-for-the-goalball/

Second Place: Chelsie Cooley; The Hilltopper Online , Highlands High School https://hhsjournalism.com/student-life/2020/10/16/the-resilience-and-persistence-of-a-ladybird/

Third Place: Connor Romines; ECHO, Trinity High School https://trinityecho.com/27649/sports/

Judge's comments:

First place: The story dove into an unfamiliar topic in the sports world and made it highlighted a characters life in depth. Sato set the scene of Evers walking into class and waiting to go to play goalball. One other example of her use of being detailed is using a quote from Evers saying "I'm a camera that's always overexposed." The reader is also left with an understanding of what goalball is. Even the dimensions were used in the story. Sato has some potential ahead of her writing some in-depth fature pieces that aren't usually read about. Fantastic work. 

Second place: In the midst of the pandemic professional and collegiate athletes have been hard to access, but for Cooley she found an athlete who was a product of injury in the midst of the pandemic and bringing it to the light of day. In the first few sentences Cooley has placed the reader onto the soccer field and even depicting what the limited capacity crowd is like. The mental health aspect has been a topic this past year and even now. Barton tore her ACL on top of dealing with mental stress of her recovery and being a high school student. The spotlight was down on Hailey Barton and Cooley found the best way she could to tell her story. 

Third place: Esports in today's world is a blossoming legitimate sport and Romines found how it's impacted his fellow peers at Trinity High School. The Esports team at the high school wants to promote itself and isn't shy to so do. Romines wasn't shy to give this topic some daylight and expose the team at his school. The overlooked sport is becoming big and there are professional leagues today that perhaps some of these students could be apart of some day. The 'No matter what skill level you’re at' mentality is felt and Romines had the scoop on all there is to know today about the Esports program.


News/Feature Photography

First Place: Sadie Bograd; PLD Lamplighter, Paul Laurence Dunbar https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/22.png

Second Place: Preston Romanov; ECHO, Trinity High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/33.jpg

Third Place: Kate Benton; Manual RedEye, duPont Manual High School https://manualredeye.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IMG_9387.jpg

Judge's comments:

I was drawn to the first place image because of the way the photographer told the story through their image. Through showing the subject in the foreground of the image with other signs in the background, I am really able to understand the story and circumstances surrounding the image. The photographer did a great job of conveying the story and finding an interesting moment! In the second image, the light is just beautiful! This image really stuck out to me because the situation is very intimate and definitely an image that you don't see every day. I love how the photographer was not afraid to get close to the subjects and really captured the moment well! In the third image, the subject's facial expression really brings the storytelling aspect into the image. I really enjoy the emotion behind the image and how close the photographer got to the subject in order to capture this moment. Overall, I was looking for good storytelling and emotion. I am always drawn to situations that I don't see every day and all of these images captured such intriguing moments. I was very surprised at how all of these young photographers were not afraid to get close to subjects and were able to capture a variety of situations that you don't see every day. 


Sports Photography

First Place: Morgan Daniels; The Rebellion, Boone County High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/15.jpg

Second Place: Brodie Curtsinger; Livewire, Bullitt East High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/63.jpg

Third Place: Maggie Schroeder and Lexie Crawford ; The Hilltopper Online , Highlands High School https://hhsjournalism.com/uncategorized/2020/10/06/varsity-girls-soccer-racks-up-another-shutout-in-3-0-win-against-ncc/#

Judge's comments: I chose the winners based off how much action, or "moment," was taking place in the photo. Sports are obviously action packed, and oftentimes the most important moments last only a matter of seconds; capturing them can be hard! I also considered how clean the photo's background was, and how sharp/not blurry it was as well. Overall though, each entry could have improved in this areas one way or another.


Editorial Cartoon

First Place: Ajsia Redden; The Atherton Aerial, Atherton High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/6.pdf

Second Place: Dylan Stern; PLD Lamplighter, Paul Laurence Dunbar https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/24.jpg

Third Place: Elisea Conto; The Central Times, Central Hardin High School https://chhsnews.com/4509/showcase/hallway-escapade/

Judge's comments: The first place cartoon had a clean, captivating illustration along with a clear, relatable message.


Front Page Design

First Place: Jenna Tipton; Livewire, Bullitt East High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/64.pdf

Second Place: Bayleah Vogel; The Rebellion, Boone County High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/16.pdf

Third Place: Rhiannon Johnston; The Atherton Aerial, Atherton High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/6.pdf

Judge's comments: I loved the variety in the submissions. When selecting the winner I was looking for compelling visuals that give an insight into the publication. The winner has a dynamic illustration paired with short descriptions that is really successful in peaking the interest of readers. All submissions have great layouts that are extremely successful. One area for improvement I see for multiple entries is readability. When paired with complex graphics it is even more important to make sure text is clean, bold, and high in contrast to ensure that the text is readable. Also visuals are an easy way to engage readers, so always remember to make sure your visuals are compelling and of high quality. Overall amazing covers, you should be proud!!


Page Design, Inside Page or Spread

First Place: Rhiannon Johnston; The Atherton Aerial, Atherton High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/7.pdf

Second Place: Matthew Brazier; The Rebellion, Boone County High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/17.pdf

Third Place: Hemi Bell; Purple Gem, Bowling Green High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/57.pdf

Judge's comments: The best newspaper page designs drew me in to the page without distracting from the story by using clean, interesting graphics along with typography that didn't overwhelm while using space effectively and keeping design elements consistent.


Multimedia Production

First Place: Julianna Russ; The Hilltopper Online, Highlands High School https://hhsjournalism.com/news/2020/11/16/scrap-wood-syd-the-passion-of-a-student-woodworker/

Second Place: Stewarts Creek TV Staff, Stewarts Creek High School  https://prezi.com/view/dXn1NNEYwcKZWeCjpD24/

KC Ciresi; Manual RedEye, duPont Manual High School https://manualredeye.com/90977/news/manualnews/reflection-my-experience-fighting-covid-19/

Judge's comments:

First place - Love scrap-wood Syd! The video is well done considering the use of A-roll and B-roll - don't forget about the nat sound - woodworking is so rich with ambient sounds - don't use music as a crutch - it should only be used as transition from act to act. The project lacked a "reason" or a return. When you do work like this the viewer is interested in how someone overcame an obstacle and in the end triumphed over adversity. The story eludes to it briefly, the vide does not really refer to it at all - if you would have made use of metaphor, like cutting wood and being creative is like slowly crafting ones life - the two are an art form that takes time and patience, then the story has a bigger, universal reason to exist and will hook a larger audience. If you want to hook an audience en-masse, keep it simple (which you did) and make it universally relevant, (which it kind of did not).

Second place - Tremendous use of available technology (Prezi) in a plug/play multimedia format to leverage an orientation service for the incoming freshman to your school in a time of virtual class structure. Great interactivity - Logo use at the front end of every video was overkill and difficult to sit thru EVERY time - always think of an entire package as you design it as one unit, not as individual units. The editing and production value of this project was heroic and a huge undertaking and served the virtual reality we were in. Th execution of the content was not as exciting - a lot of talking heads BUT the circumstance of our time forced a project like this to come together. Some very creative visual footage and editing in the final closing video. Don't make these videos a music video - i WANT to hear ambient and nat sound - don't get caught in the trap of using music as a crutch.

Third place — The topic was one covered all over the country and worthwhile - the personal video journal is a popular format for this - you could coach the subject to shoot b-roll video to help support the video narrative. The story line was interesting - especially when she ended up in the hospital - it seem she had family around her to help in this - prominent newspapers did this thing at the beginning of COVID when we were not really sure what it was - the phone allows for some pretty decent footage and fairly easy to get and transmit to an editor


Best High School News Publication

First Place: The Atherton Aerial, Atherton High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/8.pdf

Second Place (tie): Staff; The Rebellion, Boone County High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/18.pdf

Second Place (tie): Staff; Livewire, Bullitt East High School https://www.wku.edu/khsmi/moe/2021-winners/65.pdf

Judge's comments: Depth and timeliness on newsy topics important to a student audience made all the difference in selecting the top winners in the newspaper category. The top winners all had interesting stories that dug into important issues, ranging from those who are left behind by nontraditional instruction to political mandates for signs in schools. It was also impressive to see two of the top finishers truly breaking the design mold for news publications.


Best High School News Website

First Place: Manual RedEye, duPont Manual High School https://manualredeye.com/

Second Place: PLD Lamplighter, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School https://pldlamplighter.org/

Third Place: The Hilltopper Online, Highlands High School https://hhsjournalism.com/

Judge's comments: The news sites that stood out have a clear grasp of their audience and know what will interest them, as well as what's important to them. However, they didn't limit their coverage to what was going on within their school. I was impressed with the students that went beyond their school telling stories from the local community, as well as stories with statewide importance, particularly as they related to education, and localizing national topics. Furthermore, the top sites took full advantage of the online platform, publishing concise, compelling videos, tightly edited photo galleries, and embedding other multimedia elements within stories, such as infographics and tweets.


Most Valuable Staffer Categories

Most Valuable Broadcast Team Member

Winner: Brenden Evers, Mustang TV, McCracken County High School

Runner-up: Vince Wolfram, Trinity Television, Trinity High School

Most Valuable Newspaper Staff Member

Winner: Sadie Bograd, PLD Lamplighter, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Runner-up: Lexie Crawford, The Hilltopper Online, Highlands High School

Most Valuable Yearbook Staff Member

Winner: Tessa Killen, The Highlander Yearbook, Highlands High School


Sam Oldenburg, KHSMI Coordinator | samual.oldenburg@wku.edu | 270-745-3055

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 Last Modified 4/30/21