Echo, adviser receive national awards

Paper recognized for excellence, press freedom


Adah Koivula

Echo editor-in-chief Maggie Bahnson and editor-in-cheif Ethan Brown hold a Columbia Scholastic Press Association Silver Crown Award. Echo adviser Lori Keekley accepted the award on her trip to New York, New York.

Sam Orloff

Echo received the 2016 First Amendment Press Freedom Award and was named a 2017 National Scholastic Press Association Online Pacemaker finalist.

According to the Journalism Education Association (JEA), the First Amendment Press Freedom Award is awarded by a committee of representatives from a number of organizations that recognize high school journalism.

“The award recognizes public high schools that actively support, teach and protect First Amendment rights and responsibilities of students and teachers, with an emphasis on student-run media where students make all final decisions of content,” the JEA said.

According to the JEA, this year, a record 11 schools were recognized with the 2016 award.

Echo editor-in-chief Ethan Brown said the First Amendment Press Freedom Award exemplifies the premium St. Louis Park places on student-run publications.

“Receiving the First Amendment Press Freedom Award is an honor for the Echo, because it not only speaks to how much we value the First Amendment and our rights as a publication, but it also speaks to how the District, even when we have disagreement or conflicts with them, still really respect our First Amendment rights, and do as much as they can to advance those rights, and we really appreciate that,”  Brown said.

The National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) named 38 online news sites as Online Pacemaker Finalists. According to NSPA executive director Laura Widmer, the award is among the most prestigious awards available to scholastic journalists.

“The Pacemaker is the association’s preeminent award and is often called the Pulitzer Prize of scholastic journalism,” said Laura Widmer, executive director. “NSPA is honored to recognize the best of the best.”

Echo editor-in-chief Maggie Bahnson said the award recognizes Echo for its high caliber of student journalism.

“Im proud of the staff and Im proud to be a part of a staff that’s so motivated and dedicated to excellence in journalism, Bahnson said. It really pays off, and we don’t do it for the awards, but it’s nice to know that our work gets appreciated outside of the St. Louis Park community.

Echo will be recognized for the First Amendment Press Freedom Award at the JEA/NSPA Spring Convention April 6-9 in Seattle. Pacemaker winners will also be announced at the Spring Convention. Five Echo students will attend the convention.

Echo adviser Lori Keekley, on a trip to New York, New York, also received a 2017 Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Gold Key. Since 1929, the CSPA has awarded the Gold Key, presented annually to four individuals.

Keekley said the award not only recognizes her accomplishments as a journalism advisor, but those of the Echo’s staff.

“It’s very much of an honor,” Keekley said. “There were four given in the nation. I think it’s more of an award for my students than for me, because Echo students are the ones who do the work and make the decisions and I’m just here to pick up the pieces when things fall apart.”

Keekley also accepted Echo’s CSPA Silver Crown award and fulfilled various duties related to her receipt of the Dow Jones New Fund 2016 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year Award.