The Wildcat Chronicle took home top honors at the annual Northern Illinois School Press Association (NISPA) conference held at College of DuPage on March 15.

Each year, competitors are scored on their content, coverage, design, interactivity. Those who fall in the top third of each division (based on school size) are awarded the coveted Golden Eagle, recognition that eluded the Chronicle in 2023. However, this year, the Chronicle took home a Gold Award, as well as the Golden Eagle trophy.

Additional awards for the Chronicle included numerous Blue Ribbons, the top honor at NISPA. Editor-in-Chief Sasha Baumgartner, a senior, won for news writing with the story “Citizens express dissatisfaction at city council meeting.” Baumgartner was also part of the team, helmed by Managing Editor Karidja Monjolo (’24) and reporter Daniela Perez (’24), that covered the breaking news story titled “Main Park Apartments fire displaces West Chicago families,” a piece aided by photography by Alexa Morales (’24).




In feature writing, senior Emily Ziajor, Multimedia Manager took home top honors for her examination into the trend known as ‘girl dinner‘. She was also awarded a Blue Ribbon for her photo essay on the West Chicago football team’s historic win over Bartlett in September 2023.

Reviews Editor Michael Birdsell (’24) did not attend the conference, but was awarded a Blue Ribbon for his review of Drake’s 2023 album “For All the Dogs”.

“Not only is “Drake washed up” but he is finished and over, and has been for the last 5 years. Man, you put the final coffin in his coffin, and you did it very professionally,” the critic who evaluated Birdsell’s piece wrote.

Micah Weber’s “Historic West Chicago football season comes to close” was a Blue Ribbon recipients in the sports game story category.

Junior Jonathan Saucedo, the Chronicle’s Opinions Editor, received a Blue Ribbon for his financial column, “Jonathan Says.” Critics claimed Saucedo had “strong control of his voice.”

The Chronicle’s editorial on book banning, a joint effort by Baumgartner and seniors Brandon M. Heath, Eshan Amir, Fernando Arroyo Garcia, Chris Pena, Anjali Rai and Lizbeth Huerta Padilla, received a Blue Ribbon as well.

Honorable mentions were given to several West Chicago Community High School reporters as well, including Monjolo (graphics), senior Dhanveer Gill (video package), and Morales (profile writing).

The NISPA conference is an annual event that welcomes high school journalists from all over northern Illinois. In addition to competing against other area newspapers for awards, students have the chance to attend breakout sessions with journalism advisers and professionals, including Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire, and 13 WREX’s Brittany Hardaway.


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