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Springfield High Students Win Fifth National Award for Backcountry Review Magazine

Springfield High Students Win Fifth National Award for Backcountry Review Magazine
Chakris Kussalanant

Springfield High School (SHS) won its fifth national award for its high-quality Backcountry Review magazine, which focuses on the outdoors and is designed and produced by students interested in journalism. 

Backcountry Review is a 60-page magazine, filled with about 90% editorial material exclusively written by students. The magazine often completes two editions a year with about 30 students being credited for stories, design, and photography.

For its ninth edition, the SHS publication team led by Journalism Teacher Ivan Miller, won the 2023 Specialty Magazine Pacemakers Award through the National Scholastic Press Association.

SHS student Amanda Arch, described receiving the news of winning the distinguished accolade and her experience as an emerging journalist.




Hungry For More

By Amanda Arch

Ivan Miller’s victory cry can be heard throughout most classrooms on the Western side of Springfield High School (SHS). On November 6, while he took a victory lap in the hallway, his sixth period journalism students had a celebration of their own in the classroom. The Miller Integrated Nature Experience (MINE) had just earned the National Scholastic Press Association’s Pacemaker Award for best specialty magazine in the United States, and Miller left the news story projected on a giant television screen. Cheers were shouted and high-fives exchanged as the students celebrated their victory. To see Springfield High School among the list of highly accredited and sometimes exclusively expensive schools across the country felt like proof that all the hard work was valued. It felt like something to be proud of.

Like many, I was very unsure of just what journalism was when I entered classroom number 158 at SHS in the fall of 2021. Only a sophomore in Intro to Journalism, it was only the second class I had attended in person at SHS, this after not attending physical school for 402 days during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was nervous, not only because of the newness of the situation, but also because the previous year and a half had left me feeling utterly lost and without a sense of self or purpose. I had always loved storytelling, reading and writing whenever I had the chance, but I had never been provided an outlet with which to channel my passion, turning it into something bigger. 

The following year, I entered Mr. Miller’s Writing 121 class and truly found my place as a writer. I began collaborating with my classmates, reading and discussing some incredible literature, and writing in a way I had never done before. I was given the tools to build my writing skills and use them in a professional way. That year, with the help of Miller and my peers, I wrote a 1,500-word narrative about my experiences with outdoor education, which was published in Backcountry Review’s 9th issue, which made me and my teammates national award winners. 

Journalism at SHS has deeply changed the course of my life and I could not be more thankful for the impact the MINE program has made on me, or more proud of my fellow classmates for the things they have accomplished because of this remarkable program. Now, as a leader of this program, I am more excited than ever to see the things we will accomplish. Earning a fifth Pacemaker Award in the past six years has only made us hungry for more.