Students participating in the Jefferson City High School (JCHS) journalism program have won two prestigious awards for their work.
Students working on "The Red and Black" received the George H. Gallup Award, sponsored by the Quill & Scroll Honorary Society for High School Journalists, and staff for the Marcullus won the "All American Yearbook" prize from the National Scholastic Press Association.
The awards were for work that took place during the 2011-12 school year.
The Gallup rewards students for their design, writing, photography ideas. Students send their news clips to be critiqued as part of the learning exercise.
"Overall, I think we produce a really high-quality newspaper," said senior Emily Bargate, who worked on last year's news staff. "We were really good about deadlines. I think we had some really devoted and hardworking students."
Bargate said, in high school, there's a propensity for students to become "mindless conformists."
But working on a newspaper "teaches you to think critically and ask questions," she said.
She said she's picked up more than just journalism skills - although those are stressed - while working on "The Red and Black."
"We're completely independent. We don't have a budget, so we have to place the ads and manage our clients," she added.
The school newspaper is published monthly; this year's news staff is in the process of publishing their last edition.
Senior Remney Bryant serves as co-editor of this year's Marcullus, the JCHS yearbook, and was part of the team that helped write last year's book.
Bryant said she believed the book was noticed by the judges because it really represented the entire school body.
"We told the story of our school. Last year we had all kinds of students, from all different cliques, working on the staff. The variety contributed to not having a repetition of students in the book," she said.
The theme of last year's Marcullus was "Reality Check." The book featured a snazzy black-and-red cover with the theme printed in a trendy font.
The development of a good theme, a lack of grammatical errors and high-quality photography are also rewarded, Bryant added.
Bryant agreed that what students want in a yearbook isn't always what judges are looking for.
"But what the students want is going to win, because this book is for the students," she added.
Both Bryant and Bargate credited Newspaper and Yearbook Advisor Karen Ray for her contributions to the staff.
"She is always there to encourage us to do well," Bryant said.
About 850 students are expected to buy this year's book, which is already finished and will be ready for delivery by the first week of May. Students are currently working on a supplement to the book to include end-of-year events like graduation.
Bryant said the Marcullus staff works hard.
"It's definitely not one of those classes where you're always sitting at a desk. You're up and doing the work," she said.