The Voice of the Bellwood-Antis Student Body

The BluePrint

The Voice of the Bellwood-Antis Student Body

The BluePrint

The Voice of the Bellwood-Antis Student Body

The BluePrint

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BluePrint celebrates a decade online

Publication entered the digital world in 2014 and hasn’t looked back
Ethan+McGee%2C+Mr.+Naylor%2C+Christina+Kowalski%2C+Ms.+Forshey%2C+and+Jarrett+Taneyhill+accepted+the+Keystone+Award+as+PAs+top+student+newspaper+in+2017%2C+just+three+years+after+going+online.
BluePrint file photo
Ethan McGee, Mr. Naylor, Christina Kowalski, Ms. Forshey, and Jarrett Taneyhill accepted the Keystone Award as PA’s top student newspaper in 2017, just three years after going online.

April 24 will mark a special time period for the B-A BluePrint. On that day, it will be the 10-year anniversary of the BluePrint’s transition to an online publishing website. 

“I knew we were on to something when we made the switch from a paper publication to an online news source,” said Advisor Mr. Kerry Naylor. “I absolutely knew this was something that would be around in 10 years. I may not have known for sure I would still be in charge of it, but I’m glad I still have the love and passion for school newspaper that I did when I first started.”

Before becoming the news publication it is today, The BluePrint went by another name, the Hylite.

The Hylite was the original newspaper for Bellwood-Antis established around the 1940s. The newspaper was a traditional news print publication that featured stories about the student body. These stories included anything from sports stories to editorials all created by students in journalism class.

I absolutely knew this was something that would be around in 10 years. I may not have known for sure I would still be in charge of it, but I’m glad I still have the love and passion for school newspaper that I did when I first started.

— Mr. Naylor

Apart from the writing process, students were also responsible for designing and laying out the paper by hand. After an edition had been finalized and printed, copies were distributed around the school for a nominal fee, which by the early 2000s reached 25 cents per issue or 5 dollars a year. Old Hylite  can now be found in the drop down menu at the top of the website.

From the 1990s through 2010, the class was run by teacher Ms. Sue Kovensky. Ms. K, as she was affectionately referred to by students, was both the yearbook adviser and the journalism teacher. She had worked at the school for 30 years before retiring in 2014.

By 2010, the advisor position would be handed over to English teacher Mr. Kerry Naylor.

Mr Naylor had been asked by the principal at the time, Ms. Diane Williams, if he would be interested in taking over. This became a golden opportunity for Mr. Naylor, who had already been in the newspaper business since college, and whose first job after college was as a beat writer at the Daily Herald in Tyrone.

“Because I had worked in the newspaper business since I was 19, I knew it was right up my alley and jumped at the opportunity,” he said.

However, it wouldn’t be an easy task. At the time, the Hylite was only publishing a paper a few times a year, which was an issue because by the time the paper was published, the stories were “old news” to the students who had already heard them.

The problem was the Hylite required a printing press to be published. This  made creating the newspaper on time consistently difficult since it required the class to use printing presses at the Daily Herald and later its parent company the Daily News in Huntingdon. 

Mr. Thomas Partner (Class of 1994), who was the sports editor for the Hylite in high school, said, ”The process of laying out the paper was a challenge and at times stressful.”

Another problem was the fact that the 2010-2011 journalism class only had 5 students, TC Decker, Brooke McVicker, Krissy Rhule, Tabi Taylor, and Emily Forshey. Publishing a newspaper would be an incredible challenge with just 5 people.

This sparked an idea to change the newspaper to a tabloid newspaper style. Since a tabloid paper would be smaller, it would allow the class to publish every 2 weeks rather than 2 times a year. The change also allowed the group to make the paper something students wanted to read.

In the 2011 graduation edition of the BluePrint, Tabi Taylor wrote, “When deciding to switch to a tabloid version layout, we chose to make it student friendly and applicable to what we wanted to read.”

The 2010-2011 class was also responsible for the creation of the name BluePrint. The idea came from the fact that no one really knew where the original name “Hylite” came from. So, they decided to create a new name.

But what?

Tabi explained the development of the name in a 2011 edition of the BluePrint. She wrote, “And then I saw it: The BluePrint. It was perfect! Blue for Blue devils, Print for the fact that it was text, and blue print, in its traditional meaning, as layout and foundation.” Tabi later said in a BluePrint Featured Alumni, “I made a list of words we used commonly to describe the school and focus on blue and gold…Blue and a printed material and the DNA of who the school was – thus, the birthing of the name The BluePrint.”

“It was catchy right away, but once she explained it, I fell in love with the idea,” said Mr. Naylor.

These students changed the school newspaper forever.

“That first year, it was a small but dedicated group and we wouldn’t have a school newspaper now without them,” said Mr. Naylor.

In the fall of 2013, Mr. Naylor was approached by Ms. Jamie Forshey, one of the tech advisors at the time. She pitched to him an idea to take the BluePrint online. She would become instrumental in the success of the BluePrint and its jump to online publication.

The collaboration of Ms. Forshey and Mr. Naylor sparked the creation of the online presence of BluePrint, which was and is run through Students Newspapers Online (SNO), a WordPress platform for school news websites across the country.

The 2013-2014 class expanded its digital presence through social media like Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The class would finally have a launch party for their website on April 24, 2014, in front of a packed auditorium filled with students watching the annual Poetry Slam.

“It was cool because we managed to keep it a secret for the most part and then we had a special countdown video we played before announcing the launch and allowing students to grab their phones and follow us on social,” Mr. Naylor said. “For kids to even have their phone on them during school at that time was a huge offense so it was a pretty big deal.”

This was just the start of a new era for B-A school news.

 The next year, the 2014-2015 class dedicated itself to becoming recognized beyond the school. Using SNO, schools can submit their website to become a Distinguished Site by completing 6 badges. This gave the 2014-2015 group a big goal, to become the BluePrint’s first Distinguished Site.

The BluePrint’s board for tracking their progress towards a Distinguished Site in 2015. (BluePrint file photo)

To become a do so, the BluePrint needed to complete 6 of the following badges: Best of SNO, Audience Engagement, Multimedia, Story Page Excellence, Continuous Coverage, and Site Excellence. 

This group was led by people like Devin Poplin, who now teaches at B-A, Tessa Albert, Alexis Mayhve, and Jess Salmon. These students worked everyday tracking the progress as they went.

Then, on April 24, 2015, the BluePrint received its first ever Distinguished Site award just one year after launching. Since then, the BluePrint has received a Distinguished Site every year.

Another staple group came from 2016-2018, with students like Jarrett Taneyhill, Nathan Davis, Sidney Patterson, Kaelynn Behrens, Mya Decker, and Jake Miller. This group worked endlessly and was paid off when they won statewide award recognizing individual and collective success.

In fact, the BluePrint was named No. 1 student website in PA in 2017 and 2018 by the Keystone Media awards, and it has stayed rated among the top two most years since, placing among the Keystone Awards top two in the state 6 times.

“It was always crazy at the time to think about but we had been online for not even three full years and we were named the top student website in PA,” Mr. Naylor remembered. “And you looked at the other schools in the running and it was these huge schools like North Allegheny and Conestoga Valley. We were like the little engine that could. I’ll never forget coming back in 2017 and saying the first day of school that if we didn’t repeat it would be kind of a disappointment. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but that was our motivation, and we did it. Those were special kids who took true ownership of the BluePrint.”

It was always crazy at the time to think about but we had been online for not even three full years and we were named the top student website in PA.

— Mr. Naylor

Since then the BluePrint has had many writers earn significant recognition. Most recently, Jake Hawn first place in the Keystone Awards for best sports story in 2023. In 2022, Jack Luensmann won an award for best news story in 2021. Writers have also won awards from the PA Press Club and from the Pennsylvania Student Press Association. Last year, in fact, Olivia Hess won the regional PSPA competition for news writing and placed third in Pennsylvania. This year, Abi Eckenrod (feature writing) and Jordan Hescox (sports writing) won their respective categories at PSPA regionals.

On top of that, a total of 47 writers have been awarded with Best of SNO certificates.

The BluePrint has grown tremendously over the years, becoming the major source of news for the Bellwood staff, student body and the community. At times, it has been the go-to source for professional news outlets.

“We were the publication that broke the story of Coach Hayes retiring in 2017 and we had other publications around citing us,” recalled Mr. Naylor. “When the girls basketball team was winning state titles, we were being retweeted by news outlets from across the state. Even more recently, with stories we have run regarding some of the issues surrounding the wrestling team, we have been the source of record. That’s an incredible accomplishment for a student-run newspaper.”

The BluePrint has strived for success through hard work and dedication of 100’s of writers and staff over the years, contributing to a reliable news source.

However, this wouldn’t be possible without another key ingredient: you, the viewer. The viewer gives us the motivation to create stories and shine light on others outside of the school, and while we celebrate this journey, we thank you as well.

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About the Contributor
Jayden Bartlebaugh, A&E Editor
Jayden Bartlebaugh Grade 12 Years in BluePrint: 3 What you hope to do this year: Write some silly satire stories and win an SNO Award. Outside activities: Track, long walks on the beach Why did you take BluePrint: I read my brothers stories and thought it would be a good way to improve my writing skill.

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