Up until April 24th, 2014, the B-A Blueprint had always been printed. Two times a month, the Blueprint staff would hand out the newspaper full of all the important events happening around town or within the school. But like I said, this was only until the 24th of April last year.
The 24th was the day that Mr. Naylor, advisor of the Blueprint, and Ms. Forshey, advisor of the tech club, had the original thought of turning the newspaper over to technology. This is how The B-A Blueprint Online began.
This school webpage that Naylor and Forshey created was made possible by School Newspapers Online (SNO). SNO is a website that allows schools to create their own online newspaper. SNO provides the infrastructure for a quality school website, and it comes with great value, like one-on-one trouble-shooting and tips from SNO professionals.
In just one year, the BluePrint earned a top honor SNO. In other words, we can now call ourselves a Distinguished Site. Each year SNO runs a year-long program for newspapers to strive for excellence in several categories and earn the distinction.
But how were we able to achieve this?
SNO awards badges for excellence to school newspapers in several different categories. To earn the title of Distinguished Site a site must collect six of these badges.
The badges you can receive and and the criteria are as follows:
Continuous Coverage Badge—a news staff must update their news stories regularly to show skills of timely online journalism. Thanks to Myranda Mamat and Sapphire McCready, we received this badge. Myranda had to write three articles about one particular topic—Baby Agnes Doe. Sapphire wrote three articles (one each day for three days) about the Bellwood/Tyrone game. Neither of these tasks are easy to accomplish.
Site Excellence Badge—a news staff must have an original home page that does not align with the initial SNO design but is still organized.
Story Page Excellence—eight well-developed stories must be submitted. These stories need to go beyond the text and use other tools to enhance the reader’s experience. We have Edyn Convery and Emilee Astore to mainly thank for this badge. They spend day after day categorizing the Blueprint’s stories along with photos for each.
Excellence in Writing Badge—this badge is given to a site that has had at least three of its stories posted to Best of SNO. Again, Myranda assisted in this badge with her Baby Agnes Doe Story. Alexis Mayhue with her Feature Teacher: Pete Harry, and Jess Salmon with Featured Alumni: Nathan Larimer also contributed to this award.
Audience Engagement: Using two different forms of social media, a site must show it engages an audience both in the number of followers it can garner and in the number and consistency of its posts to social media. Edyn Convery and Emilee Astore created the Instagram #photooftheday to help in this area. Paige Padula and Natalie Dumin were also very valuable in tweeting out the progress of many sporting events throughout the year.
Multimedia: a site must submit at least three quality photo slide shows and three documentary-type videos that tell a story. Emily Wagner had been taking excellent photos all year, so her contributions were easily accepted.
It’s not an easy process. SNO provides the infrastructure for almost 2,000 newspapers in the United States, both high school and college, and only 10 received Distinguished Site status in 2015. Only two schools in Pennsylvania earned the honor.
At the beginning of April, we were fortunate enough to have all of these badges under our belt, except for one—the multimedia badge.
All we needed was three videos to bring us home. So we recruited the services of tech club master Kermit Foor and senior Rachael Harris, who initially designed the BluePrint’s main page header a year ago.
On April 24th, 2015 (yes, exactly a year from when it all started), one last video was submitted.
It was announced that day that we had finally got our last badge! At last, we’ve become a distinguished site! Amazing things happen when you have a group of hardworking people and a leader to guide them to a common goal.
Of course, none of these badges compare to the final goal that Mr. Naylor has been working hard for since the beginning of the year. This goal of his and of everyone on the Blueprint’s staff is to become an established site. That was the goal until last Friday, April 24, 2015, when we actually achieved what we had been striving for.
We, the B-A Blueprint, are so proud of how far we have come.