‘The Rock’ wins consecutive Pacemaker Finalist award

Daphne Yu

For the second year running, the journalism staff at The Rock student newspaper was awarded with a Pacemaker finalist for its efforts in creating a high quality newspaper publication. Pacemaker Finalist places last year’s newspaper among the top 32 in country, with a chance to win a Pacemaker award, which means last year’s The Rock volume would be among the top nine in the country.
Adam Schoelz, current editor-in-chief and member of last year’s staff, said the award was a testament to the tenacity and efficacy of the previous year’s staff.
“Well, after we got the Pacemaker critique at the beginning of year we found we had a thousand points over those we needed to be All-American,” Schoelz said. “It’s great to see our work last year, all those late nights and twelve hour days, and all the time my dear brother spent editing and designing, be rewarded.”
Senior Maria Kaliatzandonakes, another of the three newspaper editors in chief this year, found out when her best friend Muhammad Al-Rawi, class of 2012 and a photographer for The Rock last year, texted her after school Thursday. Al-Rawi was the first from both the current staff and last year’s staff to discover the win and did the honors of spreading the news.
“When I got the text I was in the middle of a project, and I just glanced down and my phone and read it. I had to read it twice to make sure,” Kalaitzandonakes said. “Then I jumped up screaming, ‘Stover! Stover! We are Pacemaker finalists,’ and [journalism adviser Robin Stover] shrieked louder than I did and hugged me hard. It was a perfect moment. In one instant it made all the hard work of last year worth it.”
As the community section editor for The Rock last year, Kalaitzandonakes took it into her own hands for her section to shine, and had no trouble pressuring her peers for quality work. Section editors were not the only ones pushing for higher standards; after receiving the nomination last year for the 2010-11 volume – the first since 2004 –  and not winning, the loss motivated the Editors-in-Chief to try for another nomination. This time, the focus was on balancing the visual elements and good writing.
“The pacemaker winners had a lot more direction in their designs than we did, so in addition to the normal emphasis on writing, we also tried to put a bigger focus on the visual elements of the paper,” said Jack Schoelz, class of 2012 and former Editor-in-Chief. “We also set a high bar for what we wanted to publish, so there was constant brainstorming and many designs, stories, photos and pieces of art were reworked several times before they were eventually published.”
The work ethic of staff members was the steam behind the newspaper engine and the biggest factor that contributed to the pacemaker nomination, Jack Schoelz said. And while this year’s staff is already hard at work to produce their first issue, set to come out Sept. 20, staff members are not concerned about whether they will win the Pacemaker award or not in November, but instead, the influence their writing has on the community around them.
“The goal is just to put out a great paper,” Adam Schoelz said, “and while it would be great to win all big-city awards, we’re with the well-being of RBHS and Columbia as a whole.”
By Daphne Yu
Additional reporting by Adam Schoelz