After the last session of the College Media Association/Associated Collegiate Press convention Oct. 26, SCCC/ATS Crusader student newspaper staff members visit the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. The staff earned a third place Best of Show in two-year non-weekly newspapers and a sixth place Best of Show in Special Editions in the convention competitions. Pictured from left, ad manager Dawn Shouse, of Amarillo, Texas; design editor Jakub Stepanovic, Liberec, Czech Republic; photographer and reporter Maria Lara, Liberal; news editor Kristy Fields, Meade; editor Makiah Adams, Liberal; new media director Diana Chavira, Liberal; sports editor Efren Rivero, Liberal; Crusader staff members Fabiola Peña, Liberal; Marco Garcia, Pampa, Texas; and Kyleigh Becker, Salina. Crusader adviser and journalism instructor Anita Reed, at right, accompanied the group. Photo courtesy of Jakub Stepanovic

By Kristy Flowers
Crusader news editor
Jazz music, seafood, beignets, bread pudding and national awards. The Seward County Community College/Area Technical School Crusader student newspaper staff experienced the sights, sounds, smells and flavors of New Orleans and also earned two national Best of Show awards when they attended a National College Media Convention in October.

The staff not only experienced the city, but also competed for various awards against 59 two-year and 459 four-year college newspapers from around the country.
The Crusader competed in the Best of Show categories of Two-Year Non-Weekly Newspaper, winning third place, and Newspaper Special Editions, winning sixth place. The Telolith, the literary magazine at Seward, competed and claimed sixth place Best of Show in the category of Literary Magazine.
In the Two-Year Non-Weekly category, the Crusader came out with a third place finish behind the el Don from Santa Ana College in Santa Ana, Calif., and The Sentinel from North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
“Both the el Don and The Sentinel are powerhouses in the college media field,” Crusader adviser Anita Reed said. “The el Don is from Santa Ana College in California with a student population of more than 30,000 and The Sentinel is from Idaho and has been a consistent Best of Show winner for at least the past two decades.”
In Special Editions, the Crusader earned sixth place for their Back-to- School/ Desktop Daze issue, ranking among schools such as Florida Atlantic University, Rutgers University, Oklahoma State University, Auburn University and Pennsylvania State University.
“This is all judged on work that has been done since the start of this school year,” Reed said. “I am really impressed with this staff that has come in with so little experience and has stepped up and brought talent and teamwork to the Crusader.”
The Telolith also finished the competition with a high ranking. The magazine earned sixth place for a Literary Magazine behind North Carolina State University, College of Charleston, California State University, Cuyahoga Community College and Appalachian State University, and just ahead of Coastal Carolina University and the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Bill McGlothing said he and Telolith co-adviser Susan Copas are both surprised at the outcome and are proud of the students.
“The Telolith has won honors and recognition for years, but this one is another exceptional award from a prestigious organization,” McGlothing said. “Telolith contributors past and present all have a stake in the publication’s success.”
When the list of award winners was first released, there was some confusion. The Crusader was listed in sixth place under the category of Four-Year Non-Weekly Newspapers instead of the two-year category. There were also other two-year schools that were included in the wrong category.
“A clerical error occurred after the judging. Our database doesn't allow for ties in Best of Show categories. So, if you try to enter the same place in a category (say, Four-Year Non-Weekly), it will go to the next available place,” ACP Contest and Critique Coordinator Grace Christiansen said.
“While filling in the two-year category, I accidentally changed the category of a few publications. The system compensated, as it was designed to do. I failed to double-check my work,” Christiansen added.
The two-year and four-year schools were split back into two separate categories to avoid ties and confusion from other schools.
"The decision was made because the error was ours and it did not seem fair to ask several schools to send back their awards because of our mistake,” Christiansen said.
At first the Crusader staff didn’t quite know how to react to being placed in a four-year category, even though it was with an impressive sixth place finish.
“Because the Crusader has enjoyed success so often in the past, I think it becomes hard to remember how difficult it is to make it to the top of the Best in Show,” Reed said. “We start to kind of take it for granted, but there’s no reason to do that. It’s always hard at the top.”
The staff members were confused about the category errors, but in the end they were happy to have placed so well at a national competition.
“I was actually quite proud for the Crusader to have landed in sixth place in Four-Year Non-Weekly, I thought that was an honor in itself. I do think it’s fair and exciting to move up when they pulled us to the two-year schools,” Reed said.
The Crusader staff not only took the paper to competition, but also honed their journalism skills through sessions at the convention.
The sessions available helped inform students about writing, editing, photography and many other aspects of journalism.
Successful journalists in newspaper, broadcast and educational professions led each session. There were also two keynote addresses, one of which was given by Hoda Kotb from “The Today Show.”
The staff also had the chance to listen to a critique of their paper by an adviser from another college. They were able to hear an outsider’s perspective on the design and content of several issues of the newspaper.
After each day of sessions and journalism education, the Crusader staff had the opportunity to explore the city of New Orleans. The staff took a riverboat ride on the Mississippi River, experienced Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, saw numerous street performers and experienced the local cuisine. The staff also had a chance to experience the New Orleans Halloween parade.
After several long days and late nights, the Crusader staff came back to Liberal with more knowledge and journalism skills as well as awards to hang up and be proud of.
Seward students who attended the convention were Makiah Adams, of Liberal, editor; Diana Chavira, Liberal, new media director; Kristy Flowers, Meade, news editor; Jakub Stepanovic, Liberec, Czech Republic, design editor; Efren Rivero, Liberal, sports editor; Maria Lara, Liberal, photographer; Dawn Shouse, Amarillo, Texas, ad manager; and staff members Fabiola Peña, Liberal; Marco Garcia, Pampa, Texas; and Kyleigh Becker, Salina.