Oak Leaf wins ‘general excellence’ award

October 28, 2005

The Oak Leaf won two first-place awards and was honored for “general excellence” at the Journalism Association of Community College’s Northern California conference and competition Oct. 22 in San Francisco.

First-place winners for the SRJC student newspaper were Max Shafer in the feature writing category and advertising manager Shaun Wagner in the bring-in ad design competition.

The Oak Leaf won a total of seven awards in the competition that annually honors the best of junior college journalism in Northern California.

The “general excellence” award placed The Oak Leaf among the top papers in the region for the 2004-05 school year, according to Oak Leaf faculty adviser Rich Mellott.

“Some widely respected and traditionally strong college papers won more individual awards, but weren’t accorded the ‘general excellence’ designation,” Mellott said. “De Anza College won 24 awards and College of Sequoias won 17 – but neither earned an excellence award. That’s a coveted honor for any newspaper.”

Students on the 2004-05 Oak Leaf staff who won individual awards were editor in chief Dana Wright, who finished fourth in editorial writing and received an honorable mention in column writing, and news editor David Abbott, who was honorably mentioned in the feature story category.

The Oak Leaf staff also won an honorable mention in Front Page Design.

Commented one judge: “Of all the papers I reviewed, this one gave me the clearest and quickest look at campus life. There are interesting stories on every front page.”

Shafer’s “Tagging Along” story, detailing a night of roaming Petaluma’s downtown with a group of “taggers” (graffiti artists), was voted the best of 65 entrants in the feature category. One judge commented the piece “was a good job of taking a local and state legal issue, then finding real people to go with it.”

Abbott’s winner was a story on SRJC political science instructor Michael Ballou following his untimely death in November of last year.

Mellott singled out columnists Lynda Berrios and Dylan Dekay-Bemis, reporters Raelayna Alvarez and Jesse Meuschke, and cartoonist Caleb Grimes as other staff members “who made large contributions” to The Oak Leaf earning the “general excellence” honor.

“We didn’t have a design specialist all year, and we went the entire spring without a staff photographer,” Mellott said. “Everyone had to pick up the slack. It was great learning experience.”

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