Westfield Middle School
Each year, the National Scholastic Press Association recognizes excellence in student media with scholastic journalism’s preeminent award, the Pacemaker. Pacemakers are awarded in each category of publication — online, newspaper, yearbook, magazine and broadcast.
Teams of media professionals judge entries based on the following criteria: coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics.
NSPA contacted Alicia Silhavy, Photoshop editor of 2015 Yearbook Pacemaker winner The Scrapbook, for a Q&A. The Scrapbook is the yearbook of Westfield Middle School in Westfield, Indiana. The Scrapbook is advised by Allison Staub.
See the full list of 2015 Yearbook Pacemaker winners here.
NSPA: What were the goals going into last year and how did you ensure those goals were met?
Alicia Silhavy, photoshop editor: Our biggest goal for last year was to create a fun and uplifting book in contrast to the many deep and more emotional books out there. We did this through edgy and modern design, handmade doodles and drawings on every page, and using “Westfield only” jokes, such as the words on the cover.
Each of these strategies for accomplishing our main goal then became their own smaller goal. Our biggest success in making sure everything got covered was to divide and conquer: I worked mainly on doodles and inside jokes, our Organizing Editor worked mainly on making sure that everything fit together, and our Design Editors worked on bright and modern design.
NSPA: Tell us about a moment you will remember most about this staff.
AS: About five minutes after our adviser surprised us with our final printed yearbook, we all passed it around, starting with the cover designer and moving down the line of who-did-what. I remember holding that book in my hands like it was the only thing that had ever mattered to me.
One of the younger staff members who was shadowing me to looked at me and said “you made that.” To this day, those words still resonate within me and give me motivation and courage to keep making “that.” Knowing that I got to be such a big influence on such an important piece is an accomplishment alone, but getting to hear the words “you made that” from a peer means the world.
NSPA: What was one of the toughest moments you faced last year? The most rewarding?
AS: Ask anybody on staff about “The Green Incident” and they’ll all look at you with terror. The day our final cover and end sheet proofs were due, our sales representative at our publishing company came to pay us a visit. The representative had also decide to alert us, the Photoshop Editor and Organizing Editor, that for some reason, one of the lime greens doesn’t quite match the other. Summarized, it turns out that we had two different shades of the same color in the book. Just to add to the fun, we also discovered that either shade of green, printed, looked quite similar to puke.
After a long day, we got our files turned in and a week or so later got our proofs back: our most exciting moment. We knew that as soon as those proofs came in the mail, there was no going back. Any other green mistake we found would just have to be left as is. It was final. Thankfully, everything turned out beautiful and the mistakes happening behind the scenes beforehand made the result only more rewarding.
NSPA: What does the Pacemaker mean to you and your staff?
AS: The Pacemaker, to me, is a benchmark of where my work falls right now. It’s a form of motivation to keep me going to do better and greater things. It’s a reminder that the things I have already done are not going unnoticed and that people in the world appreciate what I’m doing and what I’ve done. The Pacemaker is a celebration of work past and a motivation for projects future.