Clark County Public Schools was honored Friday for one of its community relations efforts last year.
The district received an award for Outstanding Achievement in School Information Services (OASIS) from the Kentucky School Public Relations Association (KYSPRA) for “The Connection,” a newspaper published by George Rogers Clark High School journalism students and distributed throughout the district and community.
This was the first time Clark County has entered the competition, which honors excellence in the field of school public relations.
More than 150 entries were submitted for judging in categories ranging from newsletters, writing, photography, websites, parent involvement programs and special events.
Clark’s award was one of the few awarded to districts that have no public relations departments.
Superintendent Elaine Farris said she was proud of the product the students produced and the information it was getting out to the community.
“I knew when I started talking with the students about doing this that they were very, very intelligent and competent in putting together a very good newspaper, and they far exceeded my expectations with The Connection,” she said. “I’m looking forward to doing this again next year because I think the community engagement and communication is so very important. We’re looking for bigger and better things for the community to know the great things that are going on in our school district.”
The Connection is a cooperative effort between GRC’s advanced journalism students, principals and Farris and the Central Office staff. It is published four times a year at the end of each grading period. It is distributed throughout all schools, the Clark County Public Library and several community locations, and is also inserted in The Winchester Sun.
The idea behind The Connection was as a way to better “connect” with the community — thus the name.
The senior journalism students write and design The Connection along with the Smoke Signals student newspaper, which prints monthly.
The Connection covers not only the district, the schools and preschool, but also includes coverage of the community as it relates to the school system.
Journalism teacher and newspaper and yearbook sponsor Shanda Crosby said doing both newspapers gave students a great learning opportunity.
“With The Connection’s totally different purpose and audience, the students are able to develop a deeper understanding of the distinct writing and communication styles required with reaching various audiences,” said Crosby. “I love watching them sit together and go through the pictures they have taken at the schools and share comments they have collected from younger students. When students are able to take the lead in producing a community publication, that is hands-on education at its finest.”
The Connection is even more unique in that it is the only student-produced school district newspaper in the state. Students handle all aspects of production, including planning, information gathering, writing, editing, photography and design.
The pioneering staff that produced last year’s first issue of The Connection are now all college freshmen and included: Sarah Burkhardt, Lauren Byarski, Carrington Carpenter, Brianna Clem, Beth Dulaney, Rachel Everman, Courtney Leggett, Kelsey Palmer and Mercedes Trent.
The 2010-2011 staff includes senior Kaitlyn Withrow and juniors Taylor Epperson, Kayla Harrison, Katy McKinney, Kelsie Parido, Brooke Powell, Madison Shirley and Krista Wasson.
“It’s a win-win-win endeavor for the students, the schools, the district and the community,” said Crosby.
Contact Bob Flynn at email@example.com