Yearbook staff earns Columbia award


Warrior yearbook photo

In the news room at Utica High, editors Cassidy Eskew and Lauren Kerr edit yearbook proofs before they are sent out for publication in the yearbook.

Joshua Rhodes, Reporter

Columbia University’s Scholastic Press Association recently awarded Gold status the the Warrior yearbook, along with All-Columbian Honors in all possible areas.
The yearbook staff earned the award while completing the book from home virtually.
“It speaks volumes,” principal Tom Lietz said, “for the commitment of the journalism program at Utica.”
It’s a big accomplishment that the staff completed everything, from interviewing to designing, virtually.
“It was the pride in wanting to share the yearbook with the kids who ordered it,” Lietz said, “and the excitement that surrounded that.”
At the time, completing the book virtually was a challenge, especially when the staff was only given one day to gather materials before being sent home last March.
“It was a big challenge to do the yearbook virtually,” senior editor Cassidy Eskew said. “Last year when no one really knew what was going to happen, we didn’t have a plan.”
Editors scrambled in the news room, making sure they took home anything necessary to complete the book. Reporter’s Notebooks with interview and printed proofs were just the beginning. The students also created chats and other ways to reach out to each other while working from home.
“At the time corona hit,” Eskew said, “the editors were in the last stages of our editing process for the final pages before the whole book would be submitted.”
The staff already had some of the yearbook finished, which was helpful, as they didn’t have to do everything virtually.
“If staff members didn’t finish their page, the editors would finish it for them,” Eskew said, “and we were going crazy emailing, social media direct messaging, and texting students to ask them interview questions.”
Staff put in a lot of work to get the yearbook out and had to spend time sending emails and asking questions constantly to finish it.
“I was very surprised that we had won the Columbia award,” Eskew said. “I really wasn’t expecting anything.”
Grateful that they were able to complete the book without missing any deadlines, many were surprised when it was announced they had won the Columbia award.
This year, the staff began the year with even more challenges, as students have not been in school.
“The staff’s up to the challenge,” adviser Stacy Smale said.