DP News Awarded Among Best in the Nation
for Student Journalism
Student-Run News Program Wins Several Awards,
Including Dos Pueblos High School’s
First-Ever First-Place Finish
By Ryan Cruz | April 2, 2023
Every year since Dos Pueblos High School’s student-run news program DP News started participating in the annual Student Television Network competition — a nationwide contest and award show that’s the high school equivalent to the Emmys or Oscars — the students have come in with high hopes, but left for the most part empty-handed. In 16 years at the competition, Dos Pueblos has taken home just three awards.
John Dent, who has helped run the program since it started in 2004, recalls the familiar feeling each spring where, despite his confidence that the team had put together some impressive work for the competition, he had to help his hardworking students cope with yet another letdown.
“Every year I’m sitting in the room and I’m thinking, ‘That one’s gonna place for sure this year,’” Dent said. “And every year, I’m disappointed.”
This year, Dent and Doug Caines — who was hired to take over as the main instructor for DP News five years ago — took 34 students for the five-day trip to Long Beach, where the kids took part in over a dozen on-the-spot competitions in news reporting, video editing, and filmmaking, testing their skills against more than 2,700 student journalists from across the country.
After a week’s worth of team bonding and long hours crammed into hotel suites editing video submissions, the crew gathered for the awards ceremony, where halfway through Dos Pueblos had still not heard its name called.
“I thought, it’s gonna be another one of those years where I’m gonna have to deal with the broken hearts,” Dent said.
But then, the luck changed for the DP News crew. The group’s video about the dangers of phone addiction, “Disconnect to Reconnect,” created by Alex Gardiner and Seth Phillips, earned a fourth-place honorable mention for Public Service Announcement.
The team was “ecstatic,” Dent said, but as soon as they sat down, they found themselves winning four out of the next five awards, including two third-place wins, one second place finish, and the number one spot in Sports Highlight Editing.
In total, DP News took home five awards in the on-the-spot competitions, along with its daily news broadcast earning recognition among the top 20 in the nation, and The Goodland Podcast being named as the “second best high school podcast in the country.”
“It was awesome to have affirmations for our students,” said Caines, who described the Crazy 8 competition — in which the students have eight hours to write, report, shoot, and edit video submissions — as “hyper competitive” and dependent on collaboration with every member of the group.
DP News took third place in the Crazy 8 Documentary competition with “Actions Speak Louder,” a short film which explored environmental impacts of plastics using interviews with local businesses, scientists, and other experts in the field.
Caines said it was “a true collaboration” for the students to go out and grab the stories and interviews in a city they don’t know and under an extreme time crunch.
“I always say, life is a big group project,” Caines said. “You cannot do life by yourself.”
Both Caines and Dent said the students’ success was indicative of the leadership of a core group of nine senior leaders including Gabriel Casselman, Logan Surber, and Alison Togami, who each play a pivotal role in the program’s daily broadcasts and led the way with the team competitions in Long Beach.
Togami, Dent said, is a key figure in the program, as a senior producer who has more experience with these events than any of her classmates. “Without her leadership, we wouldn’t have been successful.”
“This year was just amazing,” said Casselman, who also serves as the daily show’s executive producer. He said his favorite moments of the trip to Long Beach were the in-between moments, where he could get to know his classmates, or during the ceremony, when the whole group was celebrating their wins together.
“It was electric,” said Seth Tedeschi, who partnered with fellow sophomore Jude Kadi to take first place in Sports Highlight Editing. “I was not expecting us to win, and everybody stood up and started cheering. It was so cool — it’s surreal.”
Junior Aidan Myers took second place in the “Tell the Story News Editing” competition, which included telling a compelling story using raw interviews and video clips. He credits his success to “Mr. Caines,” who teaches the importance of having a good beginning, middle, and end to any story.
The trio of Jules Steelsmith, Sophia Merritt, and Sophia Pixley took third place with a vertically-oriented 90-second video package geared toward social media, which the group said is growing in popularity among teenagers who look toward their phones for news.
The students competed in over 15 contests at the convention, including other entries for arts feature story, commercial advertisement, music video, personal vlog, and movie trailer.
“Producing high-quality content like DP News provides is tough in any setting, especially in a school,” said Santa Barbara Unified School District superintendent Hilda Maldonado, “but these students do it each and every day. We are proud of the quality work they do to keep DP students informed and to see the hard work be recognized.”
You can watch the daily editions of DP News online.
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