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Huntley High School online newspaper wins national honor

HUNTLEY – A local high school's online newspaper has won a national award, dubbed "the Pulitzer Prize of high school journalism," from the National Scholastic Press Association.

Winners of the 2012 Online Pacemaker contest – which judges high school publication websites based on content, design, writing and editing, media and breaking news – were announced Saturday during the NSPA's high school journalism conference in Seattle.

The accolade comes less than a year since Huntley High School's journalism program launched The Voice Online – www.huntleyvoice.com – led by online editor Michael Geheren of Huntley. Geheren, a junior, and Huntley High School journalism adviser Dennis Brown flew to Seattle for the awards ceremony.

“The staff members are the ones who made this happen,” Geheren said in a news release. “I just created an empty shell, they fill it in with compelling stories, major news, photos and other elements that make people want to read the site and made us a top contender for the Pacemaker.”
 
The Voice Online, which went live in October, has covered school-related issues such as the death of a former student as well as general community events such as a campaign stop by presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich.

Geheren started creating a website during the 2011 blizzard. The goal was to modernize the school's journalism program, boosting students' training with the tools of today's industry. Throughout the summer, Brown worked with the administration to develop the new curriculum at the high school, located at 13719 Harmony Road in Huntley.

“[The Pacemaker is] something that could not have happened without the support of Principal Dave Johnson, the district and the board of education,” Brown said in the news release. “It’s truly an award that should be shared by District 158 as a whole.”

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