Bridgeland HS yearbook staff wins NSPA Pacemaker Award

April 16, 2021

Bridgeland High School seniors and Co-Eitors-in-Chief Cara Hudson, left, and Madison Gunn pose with the 2020 yearbook, titled All Caught Up. The book won a 2020 National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker Award, scholastic journalism’s top award. Bridgeland High School seniors and Co-Editors-in-Chief Cara Hudson, left, and Madison Gunn pose with the 2020 yearbook, titled All Caught Up. The book won a 2020 National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker Award, scholastic journalism’s top award.

April 16, 2021—The Bridgeland High School yearbook staff won a National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) Pacemaker Award for their 2020 yearbook, titled All Caught Up. The award was announced virtually on April 10 during the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention.  

The NSPA Pacemaker Award is scholastic journalism’s top award and is only given to fewer than 30 high school yearbooks across the country each year. Entries are judged by teams of professionals based on coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics.

“This award is our national championship, and it’s for a book we finished sitting in the school parking lots during a pandemic,” said Samantha Berry, Bridgeland yearbook adviser. “From the day Bridgeland opened, we were focused on what we could achieve in scholastic journalism and the kids were hungry for it. But even more, they were hungry to produce a product their community would love and be proud of. So much goes into a high school publication. The planning takes months and then it takes time to make it happen. Students balance their academic, work and social schedules with a publication schedule that can change in seconds because of a snowstorm, hurricane, rained-out tournament or pandemic. They can’t stop because memories are on the line—we must keep reporting and going.

“That’s what Bridgeland Student Media staffers did. They pushed through unprecedented times to create a publication that has been recognized as one of the best in the world. Their success is a quiet one. There are no parades, sendoffs or ceremonies for this win, but there is an adviser who thinks the world of them. I am eternally grateful for all these young journalists’ sacrifice to make great publications.”

This year’s Pacemaker contest featured approximately 380 yearbooks competing for the prestigious title. Only 22 yearbooks received the award representing the top seven percent of high school yearbooks.

“Winning this award means all of our work was worth it,” said Madison Gunn, Bridgeland senior and co-editor-in-chief. “The long hours in the journalism room before we got sent home for the year and the blazing heat we endured as we sat in the school parking lots so we could connect to the Wi-Fi was worth it. Winning a Pacemaker means that we created one of the best books in the entire nation as only a third-year school at the time. It validates what I already knew; that I work with an amazing staff and adviser that are willing to do whatever it takes to make something spectacular.”

In addition to the Pacemaker Award, Bridgeland’s 2020 yearbook placed third in the country for theme development in the NSPA Individual Awards contest. Bridgeland’s 2019 yearbook, What’s Next?, was a Pacemaker finalist in last year’s competition.

“Winning a Pacemaker is so motivating,” said Cara Hudson, Bridgeland senior and co-editor-in-chief. “Quarantine was a genuine struggle for me and despite everything that was going on last year, I felt like a yearbook was the one constant that we had the power to give. From Hurricane Harvey to a global lockdown, we have made it out thriving and there’s something undeniably special about our program.”

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