Ojai Valley High School

The Magnificent Seven

For a third straight year, Ojai Valley School’s journalism program has been recognized as among the best in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties after students earned top awards Monday at the Tri-County Journalism Educators’ Association competition held at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

This year, seven OVS journalists were among more than 100 students from 13 high schools who competed all day in live writing, photography and layout design contests. They were unable to receive coaching from teachers or mentors during the event.

Daphne Psaledakis and Sarah Sharpe competed in Feature Writing, Natasha Freudmann and Lauren Rothman competed in News, Kai Lin competed in photography for Feature and News, Kendall Shiffman competed in Editorial, and Cole Zellner competed in Sports.

Psaledakis, a senior, won first place in Feature Writing, taking top honors in that category for the second year in a row. Shiffman, a junior, earned an honorable mention for editorial writing.

Journalism as a class won second place for Best Website, and fourth overall in the  sweepstakes category, which is determined by the number of awards won by each school.

With a high school student population of just over 100 students, OVS was by far the smallest high school in attendance at the TCJEA competition.

Its competitors included schools such as Newbury Park High with its student population of 2,560, Buena High in Ventura with a student population of 2,312, and Paso Robles High, which has 1,982 students.

Many of the thirteen schools at the competition had upwards of 20 members on their journalism staffs, compared to the seven who wrote for OVS.

“The student journalists at OVS never cease to amaze me — it’s such a small group, but there is so much talent in that group,” said journalism advisor Fred Alvarez, a former Los Angeles Times reporter. “And those students have no fear. Year-after-year they go up against much bigger journalism programs, and year-after-year they prove themselves to be among the best journalists in the region. I couldn’t be prouder.”

This is the fourth year in a row the OVS Journalism crew has attended the TCJEA Write Off, and for the past three years, OVS’ student journalists have won an award in the Sweepstakes category.

“I was really proud of our journalism crew,” said Editor-in-Chief Psaledakis. “For many of us it was the first time going to the competition and I think we really held our own

– Sarah Sharpe

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