The Smoke Signal wins 45 state awards

The Smoke Signal Wins 45 State Awards
Photo: Students with Mr.Rawson after winning awards

The Smoke Signal, Pascack Valley High School's student-run publication, won 45 awards at the Garden State Scholastic Press Association’s Fall Student Press Day at Rutgers on Oct. 29. The awards were based off submissions from the 2017-18 school year which were judged over the summer. It was the second year that the contests included online-specific awards, and for the second straight year The Smoke Signal was the GSSPA's top-rated online publication.

Some further analysis and notes:

  • The Smoke Signal competes in Division B (the middle of the three size classifications) in the print awards, which recognizes the more traditional journalism practices such as writing, photography, and layout design. As a publication, The Smoke Signal won the Distinguished Journalism honor (which recognizes the most awarded publication) in Division B for the third straight year.

  • The online awards, which recognize accomplishments in multimedia, digital engagement, and breaking news-related categories, have no size classifications. All schools are lumped together, and some of them are much larger than Pascack Valley. As noted above, it’s only the second year of online awards, so The Smoke Signal is the only Online Distinguished Journalism and Online Overall Excellence (for overall impact and execution) award-winner the state has known so far.

  • Individually, Smoke Signal staffers received nine first-place awards, 11 second-place awards, eight third-place awards, and 14 Honorable Mentions.

  • The Smoke Signal had clean sweeps (first, second, and third) in three categories: Multimedia Package — Sports, Photo Gallery, and Sports Writing.

  • In seven other categories The Smoke Signal took two of the top three spots.

  • Including the three Honorable Mentions, all six submissions in the Sports Writing category received awards.

  • The Smoke Signal garnered awards in the Layout and Design (Honorable Mention) and Review Writing (Third Place) categories for the first time ever.


Photo: Students after winning awards

GSSPA Awards

2017-18 School Year (awarded fall of 2018)

Online Awards

*** No size classifications — all submissions are placed in the same pool***

Overall Excellence

First Place: The Smoke Signal, Pascack Valley

Distinguished Journalism (most awarded publication)

First Place: The Smoke Signal, Pascack Valley

Multimedia Package- News

First Place: Tara Healy — Smoke Signal Film Festival highlighted by Zack Latteri documentary

Second Place: Ariela Alfonso, Zana Allajbeju, Curstine Guevarra, Meghan Lee, Evan Mathai  — Haunted highlights from Halloween Talent Night

Honorable Mention:  Katie Mullaney, Tara Healy — Kate Fagan: Keeping Madison’s Story Alive

Multimedia Package- Features

First Place: Lauren Cohen — ‘I’ve had a great run’

Second Place: Rachel Cohen — Making her mark

Honorable Mention: Alysa Mehl — Left and found

Honorable Mention: Ally Botwinick — I marched to bear witness

Honorable Mention: Kayla Barry — Florida Shooting affects local community

Multimedia Package- Sports

First Place: Josh DeLuca — Pascack Valley makes playoffs as No. 8 seed

Second Place: Jeremy Lesserson — Three Indians to wrestle for glory

Third Place: Trey Herenda — Rivals join forces in ‘Bars for Ben’

Honorable Mention: Noah Schwartz — Jasper Tribute Videos


Second Place: ValleyChat by Jake Topolosky — The Great Jack O'Lantern

Third Place: ValleyChat by Jake Topolosky — Baked by Rosemary

Honorable Mention: ValleyChat by Jake Topolosky — Super Bowl Special

Breaking News Story

Honorable Mention: Madison Gallo, Lauren Cohen, Molly Heintze — Students face possible discipline for possessing inappropriate images

Breaking Sports Story

Second Place: Rachel Cohen — Dance Team wins double national title in Florida competition

Honorable Mention: Noah Schwartz — Jasper reaches ‘grand’ milestone

Photo Gallery

First Place: Alysa Mehl, Curstine Guevarra, and David Harnett — PV Participates in Walkout

Second Place: Curstine Guevarra — PV Theatre performs “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”

Third Place: Gianna Battista, David Harnett, Molly Heintze, and Curstine Guevarra — 

The Big 1,000


Print Awards (Division B)

Distinguished Journalism (most awarded publication)

First Place: The Smoke Signal, Pascack Valley

News Writing

First Place: Kayla Barry — Florida shooting affects local community

Third Place: Katie Mullaney and Kayla Barry — District removes two teaching positions and phases out program

Sports Writing

First Place: Madison Gallo and Trey Herenda — The start of the long gold line

Second Place: Noah Schwartz — PV athletic director set to retire

Third Place: Josh DeLuca — Pascack Valley set for first-ever out of state game

Honorable Mention: Josh DeLuca — Lifelong passion instills valuable lessons for Pascack swimmer

Honorable Mention: Josh DeLuca — Future is bright for Valley football

Honorable Mention: Josh DeLuca and Noah Schwartz — Buchanan to head Pascack Valley athletic department

Feature Writing

Second Place: Sofia Hassan — And then there was Hope

Third Place: Madison Gallo — Jasper’s journey from soldier to teacher


First Place: Victoria Donofrio — Ari Quevedo playing soccer

Second Place: Curstine Guevarra — Football player takes a drink (Picture #9 in this slideshow)

Honorable Mention: David Harnett — End zone celebration (Picture #10 in this slideshow)

Honorable Mention: Curstine — End zone celebration (Picture #10 in this slideshow)

Layout & Design

Honorable Mention: The Smoke Signal editorial staff — Jasper 1000th win print edition

Opinion Writing

Second Place: Lauren Cohen — Will we ever feel safe?

Editorial Writing

Honorable Mention: The Smoke Signal editorial board — DEAR administrators

Review Writing

Third Place: Ellie Kim — Illuminae’ is a captivating and untraditional read

Art & Illustration

First Place: Kyle Levanduski — Cover image, Mental Health print issue

In-depth Reporting

First Place: Elise Shicker, Kayla Barry, Tara Healy, et. al. —  Mental Health (print issue and coverage of Kate Fagan’s visit to PV)

Second Place: The Smoke Signal staff — Jasper’s 1,000th win

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