The Trail Travels to Athens for Annual GSPA Awards Ceremony

Lexie Holder, Staff writer


Every year, The University of Georgia in Athens hosts the Georgia Scholastic Press Association. GSPA is the gathering of newspapers, literary magazines, and other photography and newspaper high school groups from across the state of Georgia. Tuesday, April 9 was the annual awards ceremony for GSPA. The event also hosted workshops which were learning based and taught by high school journalism students, college journalism and photography students, and college professors themselves. After workshops, the awards ceremony was sectioned into various categories. Awards were presented to school newspaper programs statewide. The McIntosh Trail was one of the many publications that were nominated for and received state-wide awards.

Junior Samantha Cornett, sports editor of the Trail said, “We made the decision on who was going as an editorial board with help from Ms. Woolf. We all sat down together and decided on certain students,” Cornett said. “I have been on staff for three years now, and next year will be my fourth and final year.” She further explained her position on staff, “I have been sports editor for two years, so I have kind of been through the loop with the staff as well as the three advisors that we have had since I have started.” She concluded, “I think it was a good opportunity for us to go and put ourselves and our staff out there.”

Cornett has seen the change as well as the ups and downs of the Trail and, along with help from two senior editors, nominated the Trail for the Turnaround Award. This award is given to the media group that’s made the most progress, despite facing the trials and tribulations of any newspaper in the state.

The Trail has faced the challenge of welcoming three different advisors in the previous four years, yet they have gained multiple views from these three women over the years: Donna Owen, Sarah Beaucham and currently Shanon Woolf.

The Trail’s advisor, Shanon Woolf, was awarded first-year advisor award for the state of Georgia. Woolf is a former ninth-grade English teacher for Camden County High School and moved over the summer of 2018 to begin teaching at McIntosh. At McIntosh, she teaches ninth-grade English, yearbook and newspaper.

Cornett explained, “Mrs. Woolf picked up her entire life to be here with us and changed the entire aspect of her personal life as well to be here, and it’s all because she wanted to be here to teach us.”

McIntosh’s athletic director, Stacey Smith, was nominated for the administrator of the year by Trail staff. However, Stacey Smith could not be present during the ceremony to claim her award, but shouts and applause from the Trail staff filled the room when her name was called.

“Smith has done so much for the school in the eyes of the Newspaper Staff. Smith’s contribution to the staff has not been gone unnoticed,” said junior Arden Estep, features editor for The Trail. “The editorial board of the staff nominated her by sending in a letter of recommendation with just some things she has helped the staff to do,” she concluded.

Staff Writer freshman Yunju Lee was also recognized at the awards ceremony. Lee secured two awards in the image category. The first award was the Editorial Cartoon award for her “Valentines Day: Expectations Vs. Reality” cartoon that depicted what society sets Valentine’s Day up to be, versus what it actually amounts to. The other award she won was for her illustration complimenting her review of the Mary Poppins movie: “Mary Poppins Returns: It’s Practically Perfect in its Own Way.”

Lee confessed, “I really wasn’t expecting it. I was hoping, but definitely not expecting. So when I saw my name on the screen I was really shocked, and I felt really grateful for everyone who congratulated me after that.”

The Trail hopes to attend in future years and bring home even more awards. Arden Estep said, “This year has been majorly successful for our program. Coming home with awards after having worked toward bettering the Trail since my freshman year feels like the work has finally paid off.” The Trail plans to secure more awards next year now that they have a fresh start.