Elmhurst College’s student newspaper, The Leader, came home from the Illinois College Press Association conference in February with 16 awards, including the coveted first place in General Excellence.
At the annual ICPA conference at Chicago’s DoubleTree hotel, Leader staff attended workshops, discussions and a keynote from Chicago Sun-Times editor-in-chief Jim Kirk. The weekend-long conference culminated in the February 20 awards luncheon, where The Leader won awards in everything from feature page design to sports column to general excellence.
When it came time to announce ICPA’s version of Best in Show, the staff sat on the edges of their seats. “When they announced third and second place, we were really holding our breath,” says senior English major and Leader editor-in-chief Sarah Astra. “As soon as they said The Leader for first place, it was just an uproar. We were the loudest group in the audience.”
The Leader competed for awards against other institutions in the “Non-Dailies under 4,000” category.
The victory comes after a year of staff transitions; currently, the paper is operating without a graphics or sports editor. Faculty advisor Eric Lutz said he’s been proud to see the journalists rise to the everyday challenges of running the paper.
“The students don’t do this for awards,” says Lutz. “They’re in the office every other weekend, all hours of the night, putting this together. You’re doing it because you’re passionate about it—because you care, and you think it’s important.”
The Leader staff members aren’t sure yet how they’re going to celebrate their victories. Before that, they have to put out the upcoming issue of the paper. “Well, first we’re hanging all those new plaques in the office,” says Astra.
Full List of Leader Awards
- First Place for General Excellence: The Leader
- First Place for Column: Chrissy Croft
- First Place for Sports Column: Nick Cegielski
- First Place for Cartoon, Strip or Panel: Vinnie Lotesto
- Second Place for General News Photo: Cori Jaracz
- Second Place for Editorial: The Leader Staff
- Second Place for Spot News Photo: Chrissy Croft
- Second Place for Cartoon, Strip or Panel: Vinnie Lotesto
- Second Place for Feature Page Design: The Leader Staff
- Third Place for Front Page Layout: The Leader Staff
- Honorable Mention for Feature Story: Kailey Hansen
- Honorable Mention for In-House Promotional Ad: Nikki Smith & Graphics Team
- Honorable Mention for Editorial Cartoon: Vinnie Lotesto
- Honorable Mention for In-depth Reporting: The Leader Staff
- Honorable Mention for Sports Photo: Hannah Jasinski
- Honorable Mention for Photo Shoot: Mia Harman