Shocking contest results for Crusader

Student news team brings home national honors


Photo Courtesy of Sue Sprenkle

All of the awards that Crusader News earned was from Spring and Fall of 2021. The Crusader spring and fall 2021 staff members are Brooke Katen, Dani Arellano, Victoria Martins, Ruby Thornton, Megan Berg, Kylie Regier, Reece Hay, William Swanson and Mauricio Gonzalez. Not pictured: Saskia Vogelzang, Mary Ramirez, Ana Brangioni, Gracie Gillespie, Brianna Rich, Andrea Espinoza, Monalisa Chakraborty, Maddie Garrison, Raven Staten, Maria Coronado, Destiny Vasquez, Logan Scruggs, Krisi Anderson and Brooklynn Bauer.

Laura Gillespie, Copy Editor

Crusader News was shocked over the weekend when they were named second in the nation for best two-year website. This was one of five awards Crusader’s staff earned at the virtual National College Media Convention. 

The 2020-21 Crusader staff was named runner-up in the National 2-Year Best Website competition. The spring staff included Maria Coronado, Krisi Anderson, Destiny Vasquez, Logan Scruggs, Mary Ramirez, Brooklynn Bauer and Raven Staten. Not pictured is Josh Swanson. (Courtesy Photo)

The first major award was given to Crusader for a best two-year website by the College Media Association, where they earned second place. This award was surprising for last year’s staff because of what they had to do because of COVID restrictions throughout the nation and campus. Mary Ramirez, a member of last year’s staff, said the news was shocking, especially since most staff members had no previous experience in journalism and reporting.

Sue Sprenkle, Crusader adviser, thought it was amazing to get this national recognition. The response of the staff was total disbelief.

“When I told the staff, they thought I was pulling a joke on them. It took a second for the news to sink in,” she said. “I texted the video to them so they’d believe me.”

Individual Crusaders earned recognition at the national level for their work during the 2020-2021 school year. Maria Coronado was entered for the 2021 two-year Reporter of the year award from the Associated Collegiate Press. The undecided major earned an honorable mention in this category for reporting during her first semester of Crusader last spring. 

Nationally recognized Maria Coronado is an honorable mention for reporter of the year. (Crusader staff)

“I was honestly shocked. Honestly, you don’t think you were great enough even though you put in a lot of effort and in the nation that’s a huge deal. To be in a community college and be nominated for that was pretty cool. I was amazed. I kinda almost cried,” said Coronado. 

Photography student Lois Magner has won honorable mention in two major national awards: 2021 Photo Slideshow and Best Photo Package. 

“It’s actually very exciting and I am honored. I am also very appreciative of the people that allowed me to take pictures and ask questions. Especially for my sister and brother, it can be very emotional and to allow me to capture that. As well as the physical therapist that let me take pictures and they were so good at understanding and working with my mom,” said Magner.

Magner won both awards with her emotional photo essay A day in the life of a dementia patient. Throughout this piece, Magner documented her mother Anne Mckeown’s life as a dementia patient and how it doesn’t define her.

“I knew I was going to be challenged with cutlines so I invested in something outside of just the assignment. People who face dementia and how it is important to know they are not the diagnosis. Somedays – well most days my mom doesn’t remember who we are but we see glimpses of who she is,” said Magner. 

Magner’s goal for this piece was to have audiences take away that dementia can be more than what you see on a daily basis and to always look at the different perspectives.

Anne McKeown rests her head in her hands, taking a break. “I see her daily frustration,” says Jean Fields, McKeown’s daughter and caregiver. “I feel like there’s so many thoughts in her head and she just can’t get them out.” This was one image from the photo essay that Magner was named honoroable mention in two national contests.(Lois Magner)

The ACP also awards a “Best in Show” for those schools that attended the national convention. It is based solely on the current fall semester. Crusader News placed sixth in this national contest. 

Ramirez, a behavioral science major, has been a part of Crusader News for three semesters. Ramirez has seen quite a change from last semester to now within Crusader’s work and the ability to produce stories. 

Ramirez pointed out that with COVID canceling most activities last year, coming up with stories was hard. This year the Crusader’s story calendar is full, often posting two or three stories a day.

“Our whiteboard last spring was always empty because there’s just not much happening and it was hard to come up with things to cover,” she said. “Now, I come in and I see all these story ideas – there is a lot more going on and we are actually catching it.”

Megan Berg, a freshman business major, joined Crusader for the first time this semester. She knew Crusader previously had success within journalism competitions but Berg was still shocked to learn of Crusader’s national sixth place ranking at the ACP contest. 

“I was definitely surprised that I was a part of it. That we won that award because I had helped contribute to it, so that’s a cool concept,” said Berg. 

Berg is overall proud of the work Crusader has been doing and thinks the online website looks amazing right now. She also believes that the stories being produced really capture the audience’s attention and reflect what Seward County Community College wants to be reading. She thinks Crusader has a chance to win the national title next year.