The Duncan Banner
The Demon Pitchfork staff will be the first to say it’s almost expected for the Duncan High School newspaper to win sweepstakes each year.
But prior to the OSSAA-sanctioned award being announced this year, Iremma Cuellar, co-managing editor, experienced anxiety about winning this year. The newspaper has won every year she’s been in high school, but she had a fear her senior year might not continue the Pitchfork’s long-standing winning streak.
This fear was ungrounded, as it turned out. The Pitchfork won the James F. Paschal Memorial Sweepstakes Award and All-Oklahoman in the Oklahoma Scholastic Media competition, an award the newspaper has been winning every year since 2008.
“It was kind of my goal (to win all four years),” Cuellar said. “It’s become expected. I would have cried if we didn’t win my senior year.”
Pitchfork Sponsor Lisa Snider said the staff has been developing into great writers, editors, photographers and page designers. Snider said, during the Media Monday awards ceremony, held April 8, the Pitchfork received 921 points out of a possible 1,000 points.
Payton Ardrey, co-managing editor, said the year started with only two staff members returning, Cuellar and himself. But as the year as progressed, the staff has developed its skills to continue the winning tradition.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Ardrey said. “It’s nice to be confident you can win it every year. I’m confident in my staff. They’re pretty good writers.”
Snider said the staff didn’t submit many entries into the individual award competitions. And as such, not many individual awards were received.
Cuellar said the awards ceremony didn’t start out promising for the Pitchfork staff. She said the Bartlesville High School’s newspaper staff was picking up the majority of the individual awards with Duncan High School making infrequent appearances in those awards.
“Bartlesville was sweeping on the individual awards,” Cuellar said. “They were cheering every time. And then we won sweepstakes.”
She was one of several students to receive individual awards for Duncan. Cuellar received 1st place in three categories including news story, feature story and sports news story. Ardrey received an honorable mention for opinion column.
Other individual awards included Chole Harrison, 2nd for writing and 3rd for a design category; Blakelee Stowers, 2nd in a design category; Skyler Baldwin, second in graphic design; Alyssa Flesher, 3rd in a writing category; Foster Gibbs, honorable mention in a writing category.
As the two most senior members of the staff, Cuellar and Ardrey enjoyed stepping into the managing editor positions this school year. Cuellar was the editor-in-chief last year, and has liked sharing the duties with Ardrey.
“It’s awesome,” Cuellar said. “I love it. Newspaper is the biggest challenge in high school; it’s like a job. It makes you want to come to school.”
Ardrey said, being an editor is a different perspective of how the newsroom operates. But the new experience has had it’s perks, even if the weight of responsibility is more evident than as a reporter.
“(I like) chair racing and jumping from person to person to help with every page,” Ardrey said.
The two editors are among 10 seniors on the staff this year. In all, there are 14 staff members. Snider said she is starting to interview students for next year’s staff with hopes of adding another sweepstakes to the Pitchfork’s legacy.
But until next spring, the newspaper will have to ride on it’s latest win, even as the seniors prepare to graduate.
“It’s odd we won’t be on staff next year,” Ardrey said.