Kingwood Park High School student newspaper wins prestigious Pacemaker Award, individuals bring home national awards

KP Times Pacemaker Award
Kingwood Park High School Journalism students Kaitlyn Sitton, Maya Ortiz, Ana La Rosa Grillo, Arleigh Doehring, Taylor Nethery, Katie Gerbasich and Fallon Head hold their awards from the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Conference. 

By Joshua Koch | November 15, 2022

Less than a month removed from being named one of the best high school journalism programs in the State of Texas, Kingwood Park has raked in another batch of awards. 

In October, the high school journalism program at KPHS earned first place Sweepstakes Award at the Texas Association of Journalism Educators Fall Fiesta Contest. This past weekend, at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Conference, they earned the district’s first-ever Pacemaker Award - the most prestigious honor a high school publication can receive. 

The Pacemaker Award was for the 2021-2022 KP Times. 

"I have attended eight national conventions with Kingwood Park students over the years and they have sat through the big NSPA awards ceremony and been inspired and awed by the work," Kingwood Park journalism adviser Megan Ortiz said. "For the first time, they saw their own publication reflected and celebrated in the biggest award of the night and their reactions were priceless. The screams could be heard throughout the packed ballroom. And their smiles of pure joy lasted hours."

The KP Times is one of 15 newspapers in the nation to have earned a Pacemaker Award. They are one of four from Texas and the only one from the Houston-area. 

Along with the Pacemaker Award, individual Kingwood Park students earned individual accolades. 

Junior Maya Ortiz was named the National Photojournalist of the Year for a second-straight year. She won this award for her freshman year portfolio and sophomore year portfolio.  

In total, the students won 12 national awards. They also met with college recruiters, listened to Pulitzer Prize winners and attended sessions packed with information to improve their publications for the upcoming year. 

"More great work is ahead for these kids this year," Ortiz said. "And a lot of young talent is ready to join them on staff. They have so many more stories to tell about the Kingwood Park community." 

Other award winners included: 

  • Maya Ortiz - 2nd in nation: Digital Sports Story of the Year: Golfer Luc Wehby
  • Alicyn Logue - 2nd in the nation: Sports Action Photo of the Year: Softball playoff photo
  • Maya Ortiz, Kathleen Ortiz - 3rd in the nation: Social Media Promotion: KP Media Instagram
  • Kathleen Ortiz - 5th in the nation: Feature Story of the Year:  The legacy of Landon Ahrendt
  • Maya Ortiz - Excellent in Feature Photos
  • Katie Gerbasich - Excellent in Photo Portfolio
  • Ana La Rosa Grillo - Honorable Mention in Commentary Writing
  • Kaitlyn Sitton - Honorable Mention in Graphic Design: Advertising
  • Fallon Head - Honorable Mention in News Writing
  • Arleigh Doehring - Honorable mention in Sports Story of the Year

Visit the student news website of the KP Times.