PWest Pathfinder nominated for its first ever NSPA Pacemaker Award


Carly Anderson

Managing Editor-in-Chief Dani Fischer and Conceptual Editor-in-Chief Justin Cupps make sure the Pathfinder keeps pace with the best online newspapers in the nation. The Pathfinder has been nominated for a National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) Pacemaker Award, which recognizes excellence in high school journalism programs. “We know our site is incredible and we know how much work we put into each story and all the things that go on behind the scenes. But, to have someone else with as much authority as NSPA see our site as one of the best is a completely different feeling,” Fischer said. “It validates all the hard work that has been put in.”

The National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) has named the Parkway West High School Pathfinder as one of 44 finalists for the Pacemaker Award for Online Newspapers. This award is given to school news publications who display excellence in categories such as diverse coverage, content quality, design and leadership.

The Pacemaker had 200 applicants from 34 different states and Taiwan. The finalists come from 13 states and Taiwan.

“My number one thing [I’ve been focusing on] this year has been organizing everything we do,” Managing Editor-in-Chief and senior Dani Fischer said. “This way, when people have good ideas and want to explore new things, we have a system in place for them to do that.”

This year, the site has also earned the distinction of being a Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Crown Finalist and won sixth place Best in Show at Chicago National High School Journalism Conference.

“The four years I have been on staff, the site has grown beyond my wildest dreams and beyond what I think anyone thought was possible,” Fischer said. “So now, for me to be one of the people responsible for growing the program, it has been such a chaotic and awesome experience.”

The finalist will receive a plaque at the opening ceremonies of the Spring National High School in Anaheim April 25. The winners will be announced April 27. There is no limit to the number of winners: the panel of judges award however many sites out of the 44 finalists they deem worthy.

“I’m really unsure if we can win a Pacemaker. Our newspaper is a high-quality production and we hold ourselves to a high standard, but we’ve never even been nominated for one before.” Conceptual Editor-in-Chief and senior Justin Cupps said. “But, seeing as how we’ve developed over the years, I think there is a high possibility.”

Members of the Pathfinder are hopeful for the future of the program and do not believe this will be their last Pacemaker nomination.

“I’m really proud because in 2012, when we first started being an online publication, it was such a rare thing and it’s been very exciting watching students take the program to the next level each year and never settling,” adviser Debra Klevens said. “I love that each editorial staff takes from past staffs, but then continues to put their own stamp on the program and advance with technology. I am also so thankful for the staff’s passion and drive to be the best they can be.”