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FCHS newspaper wins national honor
‘The Eagle’ took first place in competition
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Staff Photo by Stacey Hairston: The staff of “The Eagle,” FCHS’s newspaper, have received first place national honors from the Virginia High School League’s annual school newspaper competition. In the front row, from left, are Taylor Brabson, Meredith Brubaker, Kelsey Leary and Hannah Dowdy. In the middle row are Dani Allen, Heather Ellis, Kendall McMullen and Elizabeth Sink. In the back row are Ray Warren, Brooke Wagoner, Cheyenne Steph and faculty advisor Dave Campbell. Not pictured are Ty-Juan Moorman, Marnia Toney and Claire Mitzel.

Friday, May 16, 2014


"The Eagle," Franklin County High School's newspaper, topped last year's scores by garnering first place honors in the Virginia High School League's (VHSL) annual school newspaper competition.

The high school's journalism students, under the instruction of Dave Campbell, submitted examples of their September and December 2013 editions to the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) for consideration, and recently received the news of their win.

Last year, the paper was voted second in the nation.

"Part of what makes this so nice is that this year's staff came together in ways beyond what I had imagined," said Campbell. "The amount of care and diligence these students have given our publication this year has been terrific. The editorial staff, in particular, have taken great pride and ownership in their newspaper, and the countless extra hours of lunches, before school and after school have paid off for them."

Editor Meredith Brubaker and assistant editors Hannah Dowdy and Taylor Brabson were the "ingredients" that elevated the paper to another level, Campbell said.

"Their energy, enthusiasm and attention to detail made all the difference," said Campbell. "I am grateful to have had such hardworking leaders, and the publication is better for it."

The newspaper was entered in the contest mainly for the critiques, Campbell said. The ASPA sends back suggestions for the journalism program to consider in an effort to improve their paper.

"Winning this is nice, I can't deny, but the real reason we do this is to get the feedback and critiques from the judges," said Campbell. "We strive to get a little better with each issue, and the comments certainly help us in that endeavor."

Journalists from around the country, hired by the VHSL, critiqued and evaluated the submitted pieces and decided to present the first-place award to FCHS.

Ray Warren and Kendall McMullen were also winners of only four national awards given for Outstanding Investigative Reporting.

McMullen's award-winning article, entitled "Fostering Hope," highlighted some areas of foster care that deserve more attention, according to Campbell.

"Kendall is one of the bright spots on our staff," said Campbell. "Kendall has an infectious energy that gives her the means to undertake large-scale reporting projects like that."

"It feels amazing to receive this award after all the time and effort I put into the story," said McMullen, who will step into the position of assistant editor next school year.

The Eagle has tackled more controversial topics and editorials this year, but Campbell said the school administration has been extremely supportive.

"I applaud them for trusting in our news judgment and for allowing us the freedom to explore such a wide range of topics and ideas," said Campbell.

One such controversial topic was "The N-Word," the article that earned Warren his Outstanding Investigative Reporting award.

"I am extremely proud of Ray for this award," said Campbell. "That article represents almost an entire  semester of research, writing and putting up with my comments, suggestions and changes. Ray took the subject matter to heart, and he pursued the story with diligence and maturity. Ray was able to take a hot-bed topic that affects many and discuss it in a clinical setting, which is not easy."

"It's so great to have achieved something like this in my senior year," said Warren, who also thanks the judges from the ASPA for voting and selecting him for the award.

"There is great value in high school journalism," said Campbell. "Not only is every student engaged in the writing process, but students develop the ability to present themselves professionally, as well as develop a dialogue with community members. It also nurtures their ability to question -- a much-needed skill in any generation."

The Eagle, which publishes two to three issues per semester, will submit pieces this spring for next year's competition.

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