Dispatching the Competition: Bowie High School Newspaper Wins Pacemaker Award

Bowie High School Dispatch staff winners.

(Story written by Rachel Baschnagel, Bowie High School journalism student.)

JEA Bowie High School winners

The James Bowie Dispatch won the prestigious Pacemaker award at the Journalism Education Association’s fall national journalism convention in Chicago this November, an honor last received more than twenty years ago in 1994.

The award is comparable to a Pulitzer Prize for scholastic publications that only 28 student newspapers across the country received. 

“We were the second to last school to be called for a Pacemaker, so at that point, I had lost all hope,” Editor in Chief Cianna Chairez said. “I definitely didn’t think we were gonna get one, just because it was our first nomination…but once they called our name, it was adrenaline and validation for all the hard work that we’ve been doing.”

Students from both The Dispatch newspaper and the Lone Star yearbook staff attended the conference, and submissions from both publications received awards.

Two former Dispatch staff members won awards for their previous work. Former editor in chief and 2018 graduate Violet Glenewinkel was named Writer of the Year for five In-Depth spreads she created for the newspaper in 2017–18. This distinction designates her as the best writer in the United States at the scholastic level.

“It was an extremely surreal moment,” Glenewinkel said. “I didn’t understand the scope of this award or what it really meant in the moment, but after a few hours of my mother contacting everyone in my family to give them the news and getting to really sit with that award beside me, I realized it was pretty cool and a pretty big deal.”

2018 graduate Mia Barbosa placed in the top 10 nationally with an honorable mention for Single Page Design. Senior Mia Moore was deemed Superior in the Student Life Copy and Captions category in On-site Competition, the highest award for the school for those events at the convention.

Two newspaper and one yearbook staff member earned Excellent designations: senior Sam Blas in sports writing, senior Cianna Chairez in news writing, and senior Emily Breach in academics copy and captions. 

Senior Abby Ong received an Honorable Mention for feature writing, while senior Sophie Bega received an Honorable Mention in the Yearbook Cover and Endsheets Division, the first award Bowie has ever won in that division. 

“Since I’m an editor in chief, I felt obligated to do a design contest instead of a normal writing one,” Bega said. “I really wanted to prove to myself and my staff that I could design something and be awarded nationally.”