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Springfield High School students win national journalism award

The intersection of the outdoors and journalism: that’s where a group of Springfield High School students found success – and earned a national award.

Last school year, about 55 students worked to report, write and produce the fourth issue of Backcountry Review – a 64-page outdoors-themed magazine that includes profiles, features and other stories, accompanied by professional photographs.

And their hard work paid off.

The Springfield High School group, also known as the Miller Integrated Nature Experience, or MINE, was one of three schools in the nation to receive the Pacemaker Award in the specialty/ in-depth magazine category. The class is led by Springfield High School teacher Ivan Miller.

The award is presented each year by the National Scholastic Press Association, a nonprofit educational association that provides journalism education services to students, teachers, media advisers among others.

Pacemaker awards are given in five types of student media including newspaper/newsmagazine, yearbook, literary magazine, specialty/in-depth magazine and broadcast. Entries are judged by teams of experts who focus on coverage and content, writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics.

To capture their stories and art, students either go out on their own adventures, come up with content on class trips, or write about other experiences that have some sort of outdoor focus.  Miller’s class typically goes on three to four outdoor trips per year, including to places like Diamond Peak, eastern Oregon, Cape Perpetua and others.

“Kids come in as complete rookies and leave the class having learned a good amount about journalism and how to produce good content,” Miller said. “Big-time journalism … what the kids are doing is big-time storytelling.”

Emelia Sherman, an 18-year-old senior at Springfield High, has mostly written about her experiences as a runner. In the 2018 publication, Sherman explores some the ups and downs of running, why she does it and how the human body has evolved to become a “running machine.”

Sherman will attend Willamette University next school year and run in several events on the track team – the steeplechase, the 10K and the 5K.

In the most recent edition that published last week, Sherman wrote about her experience at an elite running camp in the Steens Mountain Wilderness.

Sherman plans to pursue a career in research biology, so journalism won’t be her main focus, but she said she hopes to write for the school paper.

“Even though I won’t be studying journalism, the skills I learned will help me in so many ways.”

 Students in the MINE class were just finishing up their 2019 edition of Backcountry Review they were interviewed earlier this month. Miller anticipates it too will be nationally recognized.

“I think it’s even better than last year’s,” he said.

Backcountry Review