Cactus Shadows High School’s student newspaper wins Gold Crown Award

Cactus Shadows High School’s student newspaper, CS Press, has won the Gold Crown Award from Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

The CS Press is one of only ten high school newspapers in the country to receive this award – and the only high school in Arizona to receive this award!  The CS Press has received 11 Crown Awards – 8 gold and 4 silver over the past 15 years. CS Press is  also up for a Pacemaker Award this year.

It’s the “Pulitzer Prize” of high school journalism. Congratulations to:
Philip Tate and Clare Geare (Editors in Chief); David Lane (Online Editor in Chief); Max Hancock (Opinion Editor); Hailey Dent, Hudson Ellis & Owen Taylor (Sports Editors); Judy Silva (Food Editor); Johnathan Geare (Creeker Editor); Gianna Lazzaro (Photo Editor); Paul Wernes (Travel Editor); Katelyn Pinkham (Style Editor); Livia Love (Science Editor); Jaden Lea (Tech Editor); Sarah Love (Trending Now Editor); Cooper Lake (Technical Editor).  Staff members:  Christopher Alexander; Will Donegan; Jacob Golicz; Jordan Kern and Advisors Ms. Lori Hart and Mr. Robert Adamson.
The Crown Awards honor top student publications chosen from CSPA’s members.
Crowns are selected for overall excellence in a head-to-head comparison. Student publishing in news, magazine, yearbook or digital (online) formats are all-eligible.  During Crown consideration, publications are judged on their excellence as shown by their design, photography, concept, coverage and writing. A total of 817 publications were eligible for judging.

The CSPA offers three annual competitions to honor excellence in student publishing: Medalist Critiques for written evaluation, Crown Awards for overall excellence and Gold Circle Awards for individual student recognition.
The Crown Awards require a different judging process from the CSPA’s Medalist Critiques. Regular CSPA members are invited to submit a second copy of their publication for Crown judging. From among those entries submitted, the Crown Awards are considered at Columbia by panels of invited judges, working in small groups to review each publication.
Crown Awards summarize overall excellence in the entire publication while Medalist Critiques compare each publication against a printed set of standards. In contrast, Medalist Critiques are the work of a single adviser-judge.
Crown Awards function as a “top-down” view of general excellence; Medalist Critiques offer a “bottom-up” perspective, noting specific strengths and weaknesses.

This year the judges were sensitive to the challenges COVID-19 raised to student publications. The judges read the membership profiles and learned of the obstacles and alternative tasks staffs chose to follow to publish their publications. CSPA is proud of the work of all of its members. They rose to the challenge and flourished for their communities.

The judging panel included: Judi Coolidge, retired adviser, Avon Lake, OH; Brenda Gorsuch, retired adviser, Mills River NC; Kevin Lerner, Assistant Professor of Communication/Journalism at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY; Alan Murray, president and co-founder of Uncharted, Malvern, PA; Mark Murray, executive director, ATPI, Sante Fe, NM; Cheryl Pell, retired professor and former press state director, East Lansing MI; Linda Puntney, retired adviser, Manhattan, KS; Violet Turner, retired adviser, Chicago, IL; and Kathleen Zwiebel, retired adviser, Pottsville, PA.

The CS Press is student-run, led by thirteen student editors with help from faculty adviser Lori Hart. There are 21 students in total on the staff of the newspaper, which also has an online presence at
The paper and the web version are both run through the Advanced Journalism class at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek, Arizona.

For more information regarding Cave Creek Unified School District, please call 480-575-2000 or visit the website at