Student Newspaper Receives National Recognition
As a self-described “newshead,” Matthew Codner sought to build a news organization when he became the advisor of The Anchor last year.
“That was my philosophy,” said Codner, an English teacher a Hendrick Hudson High School. “I wanted to put the right people in the right places, give them a goal and see what they can do. And across the board, the students really blew me away in terms of what they were capable of.”
The quality of the product made major strides during the 2022-23 school year — and it wasn’t Codner or his collection of young journalists who made that claim.
The Anchor was honored as “First Class with One Mark of Distinction” by the National Scholastic Press Association.
“I think it confirmed for a lot of students what we thought about ourselves,” Codner said. “We as an organization had a good feeling. We were proud of our work. But getting an official organization telling us we’re doing a great job helped confirm that we had real pride in the product we created.”
The Anchor regularly published online throughout the school year and also published four different print editions, the first since 2019.
This year’s Spring newspaper expanded to 18 pages and included a diverse collection of unique stories that covered current events, school and community happenings, and sports success stories, plus popular sudoku and crossword puzzles.
The NSPA’s critique praised the progress made by The Anchor from the fall to the spring, writing, “First and foremost, I would like to congratulate you for making such great strides over the course of the year. … I truly believe if you continue taking the positive strides you’ve shown from your fall publication to your spring publication into 2023-24, you’re going to find that you will soar.”
Codner credited the effort of his student journalists. Senior Quinn Muller, who was in charge of the layout, was “obsessed with small details,” and Muller's fellow Editor-in-Chief Hayden Bouza, who was also a senior, provided strong leadership. He said Anchor veterans Kacie Burns and Francisco Aguirre-Ghiso, who were both juniors, proved they knew how to report stories.
In total, more than 20 students contributed as writers throughout the school year. Codner had wanted to “lower the barrier to entry” and achieved that by encouraging students to tell stories about whatever interested them.
“My long-term goal when I sat down last September was that I wanted to build a culture of journalism here,” he said.
He also credited the PTSA for providing the resources that allowed The Anchor to join the NSPA, an organization that provides education, training and recognition programs for members while promoting the standards and ethics of good journalism.
The NSPA’s critique will give the student staff a checklist to take their product to the next level, Codner said. It called for The Anchor to work on adhering stories to a journalistic format, incorporating more quotes, and requiring proper permission for photos.
“Let’s get ‘All-American’ next year,” Codner told returning staff members. “That’s one step up from where we are. It’s their highest rating.”