Staley High School’s Talon Magazine Named Pacemaker Finalist

Publication Is Only Finalist In Northland, One Of Two In Kansas City

Honoring the nation’s best, the National Scholastic Press Association has named Staley High School’s Talon magazine a finalist in its prestigious Pacemaker competition. It was the first time in the school’s history to have a publication named a finalist.

“The Pacemaker is the association’s preeminent award,” said Laura Widmer, NSPA executive director. “NSPA is honored to recognize the best of the best.”

The NSPA Pacemaker award has a rich tradition and the association started presenting the award to high school newspapers a few years after the organization was founded in 1921.

Talon magazine is one of only two schools in Kansas City to be named a finalist, and it is the only school in the northland. The other Kansas City school was Notre Dame De Sion High School. The 67 Pacemaker finalists represent 24 states and England.

Two teams of three judges devoted two days to the judging and studied every entry discussing its strengths and weaknesses. In the first round of the competition, the news publications competed against those of similar types — tabloid newspaper, broadsheet newspaper, newsmagazine and junior high/middle school.

When the process was finished, 67 Pacemaker finalists were named.

“I was really excited, because I really didn’t think that our publication would get that,” said editor-in-chief senior Haylee Roberts, who was also named to the Missouri Journalism Education Association’s 2018 All State Journalism Team. “It makes me think that we are a lot better than we originally thought that we were at the end of last year — that our publication impressed a lot of people, not just our student body.”


In addition to demonstrating excellence in key areas including coverage, writing, editing, design and photography, the winning newspapers took risks and served as a strong voice for its student audience.

“The best newspapers and newsmagazines delivered relevant coverage that resonated with student readers and the school community with appropriate sourcing, abundant student quotes and consistent journalistic style,” said Gary Lundgren, associate director and coordinator of the competition. “The Pacemakers represent the best in verbal and visual storytelling.”

Even in a digital age, print publications are thriving in high schools across the country, Lundgren said. Most print news publications have shifted to more in-depth coverage and now report breaking news on companion websites.

In this competition, only the print news product was judged.

From the group of finalists, 28 will earn the Pacemaker award placing those publications in the top 10 percent. Pacemaker finalists will be recognized, and the Pacemaker winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 1-4 in Chicago.

Editors of the 2017-2018 magazine were senior Haylee Roberts and 2018 graduate Leidy Venegas. Other staff members included graduates Emilie Kerr, Kelsey Bennett, Alexis Howard, Kyla Gaines, Jennifer Hulen, Christopher Spry; seniors Alexa Schulte, Jacob Dyke, Madelyn Phillips and juniors Dawson Parks, Makenzie Hooton, Paxton Donaldson and Jack Warner. The adviser is Cherié Burgett.