The staff celebrates its second Pacemaker award during the 2012 fall journalism convention in San Antonio. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Ho) - See more at:

NSPA names Octagon Pacemaker Finalist for second year in row

On Sept. 11, The Octagon was named a Finalist in the 2013 National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) Newspaper Pacemaker Contest.

The Octagon was one of 18 high-school newspapers in the U.S. to be nominated for a Pacemaker award (often referred to as “the Pulitzer Prize of high-school journalism”) in the 9-16 page print newspaper category.

More than 300 publications were entered in the contest.

The five issues entered were under the leadership of editors-in-chief Yanni Dahmani, ’13, Madeleine Wright, ’13 and Jeffrey Caves, ’13.

Upon hearing the news, Wright wrote, “I’m so happy, I’m jumping!”

Caves added, “It’s an amazing thing, and I’m very proud of the work we did last year and the staff and support that made it possible.”

Octagon adviser Patricia Fels was also excited by the nomination.

“When we won a Pacemaker last year in San Antonio, I told myself that it would probably be the last year for a while,” Fels said. “I can’t believe that we’ve been nominated for a second year in a row!”

Current staff members are equally pleased.

“It’s an honor because we go to such a small school where stories are harder to come by,” editor-in-chief Connor Martin said. “I feel so fortunate that we have such a dedicated staff that works so hard to find every story our school has to offer and has the drive to execute each story well.

“In the past, we were not regularly nominated because our graphics often fell short. We’ve worked very hard to change that. Now, fortunately, getting nominated for a Pacemaker is no longer a reach but rather a target.”

Ryan Ho, editor-in-chief of The Octagon Online, added, “I’m sure it’s extremely rewarding to the whole staff because we all put so much energy and time into making the issues great. I’m extremely proud.”

Opinion editor Maxwell Shukuya agreed. “I’m really excited about the nomination. This was the first year that I contributed a fair amount to the nominated issue, so it was a big accomplishment for me.”

The Octagon has been nominated for the Pacemaker award five times and has won twice.

Pacemakers will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention on Nov. 16 in Boston.

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