2023 Yearbook Pacemaker finalists

NSPA names ‘best of the best’

Pacemaker competition recognizes 56 yearbook finalists for journalistic excellence

Dec. 11, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS — The nation’s top scholastic yearbooks were recognized today by National Scholastic Press Association, which announced 56 finalists in its annual Pacemaker competition.

“The Pacemaker is the association’s preeminent award,” Executive Director Laura Widmer said. “NSPA is honored to recognize the best of the best.”

Pacemaker finalists will be honored and will receive plaques during the opening ceremony of the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention, at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4, in Kansas City, Missouri. 

Pacemaker winners will be announced for the first time at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at the convention’s awards ceremony.

The NSPA Pacemaker, one of the oldest awards for scholastic journalism, has a rich tradition. The association started presenting the prestigious award to high school newspapers soon after the organization was founded in 1921. Throughout the years, yearbooks, magazines, online sites, broadcast programs and innovation were added to the competition. 

“The yearbooks selected as Pacemaker finalists represent strong visual and verbal storytelling. The judges were highly selective, recognizing approximately 20 percent of the entries,” Associate Director Gary Lundgren said.

Two teams of three judges devoted three days to the judging and studied every entry, discussing its strengths. The status of each entry was agreed upon by at least two of the three judges. In Pacemaker competition, the yearbooks compete against each other and are not scored on a rubric. 

The high school yearbooks competed in categories based on the number of pages — 340 or more pages, 339-296 pages, 295-240 pages, 239 or fewer pages. Junior high/middle school yearbooks of all page counts complete in a category.

When the process was completed, 56 finalists were named representing the top 18 percent of all entries. In April, 27 yearbooks will earn Pacemaker awards — representing the top 9 percent.

Of the 56 finalists, nine are from junior/high and middle schools with 47 from high schools.

Yearbooks from 17 states earned Pacemaker-finalist status. Texas set the pace with nine finalists, followed by Florida with eight and Kansas with six.

Collegiate yearbook Pacemaker finalists will be announced by the Associated College Press, the NSPA collegiate organization, in January.

Written comments from the judges about each of the 27 Pacemaker-winning yearbooks will be shared in April as part of an NSPA Pacemaker Master Class. The webinar will include an interview with the judges, and a presentation showcasing the yearbooks will be available for download for classroom use. Selected Pacemaker-winning yearbooks will also be available for download for study and inspiration.

JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention

April 4-6, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

NSPA awards ceremonies

7 p.m. CT Thursday, April 4, 2024

Pacemaker finalists recognized
Literary Arts Magazines

3:30 p.m. CT Saturday, April 6, 2024

Pacemaker winners announced
Literary Arts Magazines

Junior high/middle school finalists

listed by state

Cactus Canyon Junior High School
Apache Junction, Arizona
Editor-in-chief: Haily McCrary
Adviser: Jason Davis

Greenfield Junior High School
Gilbert, Arizona
Editors-in-chief: Maya Dykman, Angelina Mesa, Jacob Walter
Adviser: Jennifer Ann Parsons

La Cresta
Desert Ridge Junior High School
Mesa, Arizona
Editor-in-chief: Jayden Catbagen
Adviser: Jeanette Lockwood

The Round-Up
Woodland Junior High School
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Editors-in-chief: Amelia Bramlett, Gracie Epps
Adviser: Andrew Young

Drake Middle School
Arvada, Colorado
Editors-in-chief: Charlotte Jones, Sadie Weborg
Adviser: Laurel Wicke

Pine Crest School
Boca Raton, Florida
Editor-in-chief: Sophie Leidner
Advisers: Jordanna Court, Vicki Spitalnick

The Scrapbook
Westfield Middle School
Westfield, Indiana
Editors-in-chief: Claudia Southworth, Victoria Webb
Adviser: Allie Staub

The Prowler
Short Pump Middle School
Glen Allen, Virginia
Editors-in-chief: Kinsley Bethea, Zoe Nomberg, Zoe Raper
Adviser: Matthew Cross

The Stinger
Brookville Middle School
Lynchburg, Virginia
Adviser: Sarena Wellman

High school finalists

listed by state

La Vista
Mountain View High School
Mesa, Arizona
Editor-in-chief: Kaiya De Silva
Adviser: Landon Wrather

Corona del Sol High School
Tempe, Arizona
Editor-in-chief: Olivia Soza
Adviser: Kathy Nicolson

Sunny Hills High School
Fullerton, California
Editors-in-chief: Joyce Choi, Larissa Yoon
Adviser: Lindsay Safe

James Enochs High School
Modesto, California
Editors-in-chief: Analyn Do, Lucille Lacuna, Savannah Montey
Adviser: Tamra McCarthy

Del Norte High School
San Diego, California
Editor-in-chief: Bria Gilliam
Adviser: Robin Christopher

Walnut High School
Walnut, California
Editors-in-chief: Nathan Cheung, Anisha Choksey, Sunny Liu, Shani Su, Amber Zhao
Adviser: So Hee Tan

Smoky Hill High School
Aurora, Colorado
Editors-in-chief: Jaya Castaneda, Keeghan Howell
Adviser: Carrie Faust

Brighton High School
Brighton, Colorado
Editors-in-chief: Gabriella Polliard, Elizabeth Rolfs
Adviser: Justin Daigle

Black & Gold
Rock Canyon High School
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Editors-in-chief: Alexandra Gustafson, Aahana Nandy, Raegan Synk
Adviser: Kristi Rathbun

Longmont High School
Longmont, Colorado
Editors-in-chief: Briona Loughran, Emma Stasko
Adviser: Annie Gorenstein-Falkenberg

Gulliver Preparatory School
Miami, Florida
Editors-in-chief: Ava Burke, Chiara Zecchini
Adviser: Monica Rodriguez

Hagerty High School
Oviedo, Florida
Editors-in-chief: Alexis Izaguirre, Sarena Wilkerson
Adviser: Brit Taylor

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Parkland, Florida
Editors-in-chief: Lilliana Barbati, Lilliana Scopino, Yael Weinfeld
Adviser: Sarah Lerner

The Crusader
Keswick Christian School
St. Petersburg, Florida
Editors-in-chief: Brianna Beall, Ella Dollins
Adviser: Jennifer Ryan

H.B. Plant High School
Tampa, Florida
Editors-in-chief: Remi Aylesworth, Haley Black, Annabell Chalmers, Addison Gear, Anna Kadet
Adviser: Christina Porcelli

The Stampede
J.W. Mitchell High School
Trinity, Florida
Editors-in-chief: Ava Cornett, Addison Kingsley
Adviser: Susan McNulty

The Marquee
Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts
West Palm Beach, Florida
Editors-in-chief: Brighton Moffitt, Faith Parkinson
Adviser: Carly Gates

Glenbrook South High School
Glenview, Illinois
Editors-in-chief: Sakura Honda, Hannah Sawyer
Adviser: Brenda Field

Red & Black
Lawrence High School
Lawrence, Kansas
Editor-in-chief: Maya Smith
Adviser: Barbara Tholen

Blue Valley Northwest High School
Overland Park, Kansas
Editors-in-chief: Ella Hedin, Kylie Hess
Advisers: Jim McCrossen, Kim White

Shawnee Mission North High School
Overland Park, Kansas
Editor-in-chief: Rylie Peterson
Adviser: Becky Tate

Shawnee Mission South High School
Overland Park, Kansas
Editor-in-chief: Gretchen Schmierer Knust
Adviser: Tucker Love

Shawnee Mission East High School
Prairie Village, Kansas
Editors-in-chief: Calleigh Nachtigal, Natalee Sandstrom, Claire Schudy, Emily Winter, Ella Yun
Adviser: Dow Tate

The Lair
Shawnee Mission Northwest High School
Shawnee, Kansas
Editor-in-chief: Katie Burke
Adviser: Susan Massy

Parkway West High School
Ballwin, Missouri
Editors-in-chief: Tristan Caudill, Victoria Neeser
Adviser: Debra Klevens

Kirkwood High School
Kirkwood, Missouri
Editors-in-chief: Cece Bartin, Noah Ferkel, Avery Oppermann, Nina Teckman
Adviser: Mitch Eden

Lee’s Summit High School
Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Editor-in-chief: Lily Ullery
Adviser: Jessica Flowers

Ladue Horton Watkins High School
St. Louis, Missouri
Editors-in-chief: Chloe Gaither, Jordan Hunt, Addie Kerner, Jessica Sachs
Adviser: Sarah Kirksey

The Howl
Southwest Career and Technical Academy
Las Vegas, Nevada
Editors-in-chief: Eavan Abao, Jessica Cabanting, Angelo Cordero, Kevyn Yuen
Adviser: Matthew LaPorte

Corning-Painted Post High School
Corning, New York
Editors-in-chief: Adah Gray, Leah Rizkallah, Ashti Tiwari
Advisers: Katie Paulison-Harris, Mike Simons

The Torch
Athens Drive Magnet High School
Raleigh, North Carolina
Editors-in-chief: Greta Banks Sexton, Nevaeh Brooks, Zoe Politis
Adviser: Elizabeth Luna

Casady School
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Editors-in-chief: Holly Burkhart, Braden Gerard, Ria Sachdev
Adviser: Bonnie Gerard

Lion’s Roar
Christ Presbyterian Academy
Nashville, Tennessee
Editors-in-chief: Avery Parker, Corinne Price
Adviser: Heather Nagel

Aledo High School
Aledo, Texas
Editor-in-chief: Kaley Schabel
Adviser: Emily Pyeatt Arnold

The Bard
Hill Country Christian School
Austin, Texas
Adviser: John Horvath

Lone Star
James Bowie High School
Austin, Texas
Editors-in-chief: Abby Mandel, Hannah Schiller, Weslie Warmink
Adviser: Lindsey Shirack

Episcopal School of Dallas
Dallas, Texas
Editors-in-chief: Lyles Etcheverry, Sally Tomlin
Adviser: Ana Rosenthal

The Legend
El Dorado High School
El Paso, Texas
Editor-in-chief: Brenden Malacara
Adviser: Vanessa Martinez

The Frontier
Chisholm Trail High School
Fort Worth, Texas
Editors-in-chief: Natalie Salinas, Kaylee White
Adviser: Cortney Wood

Patricia E. Paetow High School
Katy, Texas
Editor-in-chief: Yvette Garcia
Adviser: Sara Gonzales

Round Rock High School
Round Rock, Texas
Editors-in-chief: Gabriella Cary, Briana Nelson
Adviser: Sharon Kubicek

The Hawk
Pleasant Grove High School
Texarkana, Texas
Editors-in-chief: Hailey Epps, Camille Harrelson, Mollie Hemphill, Elaina Shellogg
Adviser: Charla Harris

Turner Ashby High School
Bridgewater, Virginia
Editors-in-chief: Addison Bridges, Kacey Lam
Adviser: Leslie Stevens

Colonial Forge High School
Stafford, Virginia
Editors-in-chief: Shelby Jaunal, Alexa Kaley
Adviser: Tiffany Kopcak

The Legacy
Potomac Falls High School
Sterling, Virginia
Editors-in-chief: Molly DeHaven, Talia Firetti, Maya Kassir, Angelina Lam, Emma Meehan, Sarah Pappalardo, Abby Stephens, Natalie Wike
Adviser: Emily Everett

The Edge
Glacier Peak High School
Snohomish, Washington
Editor-in-chief: Lillyana Brastad
Adviser: Annie Green

Mead High School
Spokane, Washington
Editor-in-chief: Elizabeth Terrill
Adviser: Makena Busch