“Hard work does pay off”

The Crusader wins Best of Show and first place for their online publication and print editions.

Former co-Editor-in-Chief Laurinne Eugenio (front) and former Managing Editor Yealin Lee (back) looks at the first place ribbon the Crusader received for their print edition of issues four and five. Despite coming back from distance learning, the Crusader faced challenges for the publication to produce high quality content. (Provided by Eiffel Sunga)

From June 8 through July 4, Bonita Vista High’s (BVH) student-run publication, the Crusader, had its online website and newspapers displayed at the San Diego County Fair. The Crusader submitted their print edition of issues four and five along with the online publication to the fair, which received first place and Best of Show respectively.

“I was really excited and felt really proud of the staff. I know this past year has been difficult due to the transition from distance learning to in-person learning. It felt rewarding to see all of our hard work that [was] put into creating the paper be recognized,” former co-Editor-in-Chief Laurinne Eugenio said. 

County recognition provides the publication an opportunity to be highly regarded by the BVH community. Furthermore, the publication was able to present their work to the public outside of BVH. 

“I think it definitely motivates [the staff] to keep going forward, and shows how hard work does pay off. I think this is good for next year’s staff, especially because a lot of the members who have been [working with the publication] for a long time are moving on,” former Managing Editor Yealin Lee said. 

According to former co-Editor-in-Chief Carina Muniz, the Crusader’s content has been improving. After observing other high school newspapers at the San Diego County Fair, Muniz noticed that the Crusader differs from other student-run publications. 

“I was looking at other print issues from other schools and I was like, ‘This is nice, but I think ours is better.’ When it comes to our school, I think that we demonstrate real journalism,” Muniz said.“I’ve heard students from college say, ‘The journalism you learn in the Crusader is exactly what you learn in college or real life.’” 

To reach their goal of creating high-quality content, the former Editorial Board introduced stricter deadlines for the staff members. By doing so, it allowed content to be posted on the Crusader website in a timely and consistent manner. As a result, the BVH community was more engaged with the publication.

“To make sure that our publication was high quality [we had] the ability to manipulate deadlines. If we needed to get work done and upload content faster on the website, then I would work with writers to make sure they had tighter deadlines,” former Editor-at-Large Alexa Vazquez said. 

Although the Crusader strived for greater content, the staff members were faced with conflicts. Considering that all of the staff members came back from distance learning, they had to work hard to make sure the publication returned to the quality it was before the pandemic. During the process, the former Editorial Board members were constantly worried about the staff’s workload and mental health. 

“[The EB] held pandemic mentalities. We were sluggish during the pandemic because we were in survival mode. [We were more worried] about how we can keep producing content and that people were coming to classes, not losing their minds,” Vazquez said.  

When faced with conflicts or obstacles during the production of an issue, staff members looked back at their work and ethic, through “reflections.” They were also encouraged to set goals for the following issues. Doing so allowed the publication to learn from its mistakes and continue to flourish and grow. 

“There’s been many moments [where the publication made mistakes]. I’d say this is always gonna be around and it’s unfortunately unavoidable because we are human, we make mistakes,” Muniz said.

As the Crusader is preparing for a new year, the former Editorial Board members believe that winning the Best of Show award allows staff members to take pride in their work. Additionally, they hope that incoming staff members recognize the award and feel motivated to work with the Crusader.

“Next year, I want all [the staff members] to share [their] passion and excitement for the newspaper, because I know that once [they] do, other people will see it and feel it and want to be a part of a welcoming community,” Eugenio said. “I know that [the Crusader] will continue to produce amazing stories and foster that sense of advocacy that’s really important in the community.”