PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg High School’s Booster Redux has taken on topics such as cancer, the Kansas foster care system, tattoos, vaping, student workers and many other topics which affect students and the community alike. 

Each year the Booster Redux submits its work to the National Scholastic Press Association in hopes to receive a Pacemaker award. 

The NSPA recently named the 49 scholastic student newspaper and news magazines as  finalist in the Pacemaker competition, Booster Redux included. In November, the finalists will be recognized and the Pacemaker winners will be announced at the Journalism Education Association/NSPA Fall National High School Convention in Washington D.C.  

“The Pacemaker is the association’s preeminent award,” executive director Laura Widmer said in a release. “NSPA is honored to recognize the best of the best.”

This will be the second time for the Booster Redux to be a finalist in four years. The student newspaper was a finalist in 2015 and several students brought home awards. 

According to the release, 220 student news publications from 33 states entered the competition. Judges studied every entry and discussed its strengths and weaknesses, the release said. From the 49 finalists, 19 will earn the Pacemaker award. 

“The best newspapers and news magazines delivered relevant coverage that resonated with student readers and the school community with appropriate sourcing, abundant student quotes and consistent journalistic style,” said Gary Lundgren, associate director and coordinator of the competition in the release. “The Pacemakers represent the best in verbal and visual storytelling.”

PHS junior and Booster Co-editor in Chief Joseph Lee gave credit to the Booster’s leadership. 

“I think we did so well because we had such strong leadership last year under Nicole Konopelko who really drove most of our issues home,” he said. 

Another PHS junior and Booster Co-editor in Chief, McKennaHodges agreed and added, “All of the seniors were all super invested in newspaper,” she said before listing several seniors who helped guide the newspaper staff. 

Lee shared the sentiment and said the designers also “backed up the great writing.” 

Konopelko, now studying journalism at the University of Kansas and working at a correspondent the University Daily Kansan, said she was surprised to receive a phone call from Hodges which broke the good news. 

“My initial reaction was definitely excitement and it made me really happy, especially right now in my freshman year of college,” Konopelko said about hearing from her old staff. 

The Booster doesn’t do stories for awards, Konopelko said, but the award shows that the student journalists are doing “great journalism and storytelling”.

The Booster Redux Advisor Emily Smith praised all of her students for their dedication to the paper. 

“I guess I’m always like the super proud mom, I think that everything they do is great,” she said. “They work incredibly hard, they challenge themselves, they tell interesting stories of their community, they strive to represent their student body well, they try to be inclusive to all members of the student body. 

“They are not just covering big things in the athletic world, they try to cover the small stories of students just doing their everyday life.” 

This past school year the students have not only continued to write and design “great” newspapers, but have worked on their online coverage and utilizing social media to share their photography and stories, Smith said, applauding their efforts. Last year, their online website got best of show. 

“To think that they were balancing that online coverage with the print coverage and social media, I think that was really powerful,” Smith said. 

Also that school year, the intro class was smaller so the students helped each other along in class. Smith was also at one point on maternity leave, and despite her absence, she said they came out with good content — including a full front page made by freshman.

“They did a really good job of stepping up,” Smith said.