Laurel High School newspaper wins Scholastic Press award
Mar. 25, 2004
Guy Leonard
Staff Writer

During the nine years the Laurel High School newspaper has been in print, about 40 national and local groups have recognized its student contributors for their product.

The most recent accolade comes in the form of a silver medal from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for the young journalists for their efforts last year on "The Shield."

"I feel good [about the work they've done] because my students have worked hard," said

instructor-editor Robert Giuliani, who has taught at the school for 14 years. "Everything they do is from scratch. They start with a piece of paper. There are no templates."

Stephanie Gilbertz, this year's editor-in-chief, spent last year as a reporter writing stories and digging into how students felt about issues that affected them.

She said she joined the school paper to sharpen her creative edge.

"The reason I took the class is because I love writing," Gilbertz said. "I found it so much fun... I was close to what I love."

Gilbertz takes her job seriously and can often be found at her computer laying out the paper and saying out loud what will work and what needs to be fixed before it goes to print.

"I have to make sure the job is getting done," Gilbertz said. "It's probably the most responsibility I've had on me."

Catherine Shisler, the paper's managing editor, also has been on board for two years, and gives it her all despite it being trying from time to time.

"[My biggest challenge is] trying to fix all the mistakes and leading [some] people who aren't as willing as want them to be," Shisler said.

Shisler and Gilbertz have put out some serious papers dealing with issues that students there have on their minds such as whether the county should have gone to war with Iraq and how the convicted snipers John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo should be punished for their crimes.

Shisler, like Gilbertz, has a spark for what she is doing and wants to be the best.

"I love it," Shisler said. "I have a passion for writing. I was disappointed we didn't win the gold. Silver is still good. It shows all [our] work paid off."

For assistant photo editor and reporter Sarah Vaughan, the real prize, besides getting the experience in her future craft, is the freedom and independence her duties provide.

"What's attractive is we get to make the decisions," Vaughan. "It's up to us to keep producing the paper."

Vaughn said the student staff runs the newspaper like a real business by securing advertising, the lifeblood of any community publication, from Laurel Mall and other local merchants.

"We're self sufficient," she said.

But how will the paper fare this year when the students submit work for what they hope will be another award?

Gilbertz said that, though she had not thought of the paper in those terms, she was confident her staff would make the grade.

"The idea never crossed my mind," she said thoughtfully. "I guess I just have so much faith in the staff that we're going to do really well."

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