The Rider Online Wins Second National Award


In 2007 when newspaper adviser Leland Mallett and 2011 seniors began dreaming and brainstorming what the new school’s newspaper website would look like, they also dreamed they’d win a national award for the publication. Now, four years later 27 students, two advisers, eight sponsors and one assistant principal leave for New York City to receive, not the first, but second Crown Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The paper has also been nominated for the Pacemaker from the National Scholastic Press Association.

“I remember sitting in a special created web design class at Ben Barber with Mrs. Stillings and letting the students discuss all the things we’d do in New York if we won the award,” Mr. Mallett said. “I didn’t think we’d be there for the next two years.”

Columbia Scholastic Press Association critiques student publications from all over the nation then lists the top newspapers, yearbooks and magazines as Crown finalists. At the award ceremony in March, each staff on the finalists list will win a Gold Crown or Silver Crown from the organization. Last year, earned a Gold Crown and the 2009 yearbook won a Silver Crown.

“We were honored to be there,” Mr. Mallett said, “but winning the Gold Crown with 11 other schools was a huge bonus.”

CSPA judges recognize recipients for “overall excellence.” Newspaper Editor Brett Walker attributes their success to the staff’s drive to innovate and cater to the Mansfield community.

“The awards just mean we are doing at least something right, but our real goal is to garner a strong readership and to try ground-breaking things,” Walker said. “For example, we have our interactive stories, which few are doing, and we still look for new ways to present information and tell stories.”

Editors believe it takes a team effort to keep a daily updated web site going.

“I’m beyond proud. The staff has worked incredibly hard this year,” News Editor Russell Kirby said. “These events are great because the staff finally gets the recognition they deserve.”

The group leaves for New York on Tuesday during spring break and will return in five days after sightseeing and attending the CSPA convention.

“I’ve been to a lot of conventions and ceremonies, but nothing like this one,”  Kirby said. “I’m thrilled.”