Chronicle takes home high honors at NISPA’s annual conference


Photo by Leslie Fireman

Second semester journalism students celebrate the Chronicle’s achievements on May 10.

The Wildcat Chronicle was awarded the Golden Eagle, the most prestigious award in the Northern Illinois Student Press Association (NISPA), in May 2021.

NISPA’s web contest seeks to recognize the top 5-6 student-run publications in the conference. In looking at various newspapers, NISPA examines overall content and coverage, breaking news, rich media, community and interactivity, plus overall navigation and appearance. The Chronicle earned a total of 210 points out of 230 this year. It is one of just 6 area publications to receive the Golden Eagle, joining the ranks of Downers Grove South, Prospect, Oswego, Naperville North and Metea Valley High Schools.

“We are thrilled to receive the Golden Eagle,” said Wildcat Chronicle advisor Leslie Fireman. “We entered the contest hoping to gain some valuable feedback about how we could improve our publication, so earning such a distinction honestly had not even crossed our mind. We are incredibly appreciative to NISPA, not only for their review of the Chronicle, but also for the recognition.”

The last time the Chronicle won the Golden Eagle, NISPA’S highest award of overall excellence, was in 2010, under advisor Laura Kuehn’s guidance.

Fireman said, “Our staff, which is entirely new this year, has worked ceaselessly to produce content, and while we are still learning as we go, I am so proud of our reporters, editors and photographers.”

In addition to the Golden Eagle, sophomore Sasha Baumgartner, one of the Chronicle’s three editors, took home the blue ribbon, NISPA’s top individual award, for her column on mental health: Unqualified Advice with Chacha. Baumgartner was the first staff member to take on a column in the fall of 2021; since then, she has written a number of advice-based articles de-stigmatizing mental health issues, and encouraging students to recognize the importance of self-care.

Sasha also received an honorable mention for her Humans of WEGO profile on English teacher Kyle Etheridge.

“Getting the blue ribbon and honorable mention this year for my work in journalism makes me feel so accomplished. For a while, I was insecure about my writing, but I began to gain confidence again with taking journalism and seeing all the success on the Wildcat Chronicle. I am so passionate about the Humans of WEGO section and my column. I am thankful that my work and the Wildcat Chronicle is being recognized this year. Everybody put in so much work,” said Sasha.

Editor Charlie Baumgartner was awarded a blue ribbon for his in-depth opinions piece, “Both sides at fault for shutdown of Homecoming dance” as well. Charlie was praised for his ability to examine all sides of the story after considerable weeks spent researching and writing the article.

“Winning this award is a stepping stone because it represents that the Wildcat Chronicle is here for the future. I am intrigued to see what the future holds after being a part of a massive restaff, retool, and rebuild. This is just the beginning, and I wish for future reporters to have success – to create content for our school and community,” said Charlie.