La Plata High School Newspaper Wins National Recognition

May 29, 2015
Editor-in Chief Tyler Gagnon reviews work on the upcoming edition of La Plata High School’s award-winning student newspaper, the Gauntlet.

Editor-in Chief Tyler Gagnon reviews work on the upcoming edition of La Plata High School’s award-winning student newspaper, the Gauntlet.

Read all about it in the Gauntlet, the award-winning school newspaper La Plata High School students brought back to print this year.

La Plata’s Gauntlet features the news students want to know, according to student editor Tyler Gagnon. Student reporters tackle issues like graduation requirement changes, PARCC testing and rising AP testing costs along with human interest stories like the first female wrestler at La Plata and how a foreign exchange student adjusts to life in a small town.

The Gauntlet is all about La Plata High School and the surrounding community, and Gagnon said students resurrected the print newspaper after determining online readership was poor. “Last year the newspaper was digital. We didn’t have a lot of evidence that anyone was reading it, so we went back to paper,” Gagnon said.

The efforts of the Gauntlet staff have led to higher readership and national recognition. The American Scholastic Press Association recently honored the Gauntlet staff with a national first-place award for reaching the highest standards of news reporting during its first full year of publication. The association also awarded staff with an Outstanding Service to the

Community Award, shared with four other schools nationally, for increased student involvement in the journalism trade. The award also recognizes La Plata as one of the few schools to bring back a student-run publication when many schools across the country are cutting their programs, faculty advisor Ross Benincasa said.

Toni Dixon, managing editor, said the students publish the newspaper every other month and it includes opinion, sports and news sections along with feature articles. “We tell stories that affect students,” Dixon said.

Students learn the basics of journalism through classwork and hands-on experiences. Students write, design and sell advertisements while producing their work with software commonly used by printers. Dixon said reporting is time consuming and students often cover games and after-school meetings on their own time.

The Gauntlet is published under the guidance of Benincasa, who provides freedom of expression while using real-class examples to teach journalistic ethics, writing style, and design and layout. He also teaches the students the history and basics of journalism, augmenting lessons with field trips to the Newseum and the Washington Post.

The students publish the Gauntlet every other month.

Charles County Public Schools provides 26,500 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.