El Cid gains national recognition

Student paper earns Distinguished Site award for first time in school history


Photo by Coach Grazier

Dean of Academics Mr. Jeff McMurtry presents the El Cid staff with the SNO Distinguished Site plaque Monday after a lunch meeting to introduce new Journalism 1 students to the class.

For the first time in El Cid history, Student Newspapers Online, a provider of online publishing for college and high school journalism programs, recognized the Cathedral Catholic High School student newspaper as a SNO Distinguished Site, a title earned by completing six badges with varying requirements regarding elements of page layout, audience engagement, and content.

“When I joined the paper this year, my adviser had a long list of goals for our staff,” El Cid Editor-in-Chief Riley Hetherington ‘19 said. “Becoming a Distinguished Site was always one of them. I always saw the goal as individual badges, and I never thought our tiny staff of seven could receive all six.

“However, we all put in extra hours to fill the badge requirements, and we got to six before we knew it.”

El Cid, currently one of 27 SNO publications in the U.S. to earn the title this school year, received the honor with the work of merely seven new members, doubling the three earned badges from the 2016-17 staff.

The six badges include continuous coverage, site excellence, story page excellence, excellence in writing, multimedia, and audience engagement, all of which are required to be competed by an April 30 each school year.

“With the SNO program, it’s all on the student publication itself to raise its level to the clear standards SNO has spelled out for them,” SNO education and training specialist Mr. Alex McNamee said. “If your submission checks all the boxes, then you earn the badge. If you earn all the badges, you earn the distinction of SNO Distinguished Site, and you can continue to win it over and over, year after year.”

El Cid is also one of the two SNO publications in California to earn the honor, sharing the spotlight with Scot Scoop News of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

The SNO Distinguished Site title, although difficult, is attainable due to its trial-and-error style. Even if rejected, a staff can re-submit to pursue the individual badges, thus promoting perseverance among staff members.

“Staffs put a lot into it, so there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that I don’t ever see,” Mr. McNamee said. “It’s trial and error. You can apply for any of these badges as many times as it takes to earn each badge. Although each badge has direct criteria, it leaves room for each publication to still be different, which I think is a great thing.

“So, something like El Cid‘s four top stories across a grid is something unique to the site.”

El Cid’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed within the CCHS community.

“The SNO site award is not necessary to tell us that El Cid is doing an exemplary job, but it certainly is a nice reminder,” Dean of Academics Mr. Jeff McMurtry said.

Despite the lack of manpower and experience on the El Cid staff, the seven members proved capable and professional throughout the school year, using the SNO Distinguished Site award as a constant goal.

“Overall, I feel that SNO positively impacted my staff and gave us a common goal to work toward,” Hetherington said. “Even though we applied multiple times and got denied, we kept pushing, which made it even more exciting to finally become a Distinguished Site.

“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to accomplish so much with such a small staff.”

Through the completion of such an immense accomplishment, the El Cid staff hopes to accomplish more in the future in order to make the newspaper and CCHS as a whole a better place.

“As our students stack up bylines and editor credits in an award winning publication, they are now finding themselves with valuable portfolios to show their prospective schools,” Mr. McMurtry said. “That is great for our school.”