Boiling Point wins its first Pacemaker, sixth Gold Crown


BP Photo by Joelle Keene

WINNERS: Boiling Point editors posed in front of Columbia University’s Pulitzer Graduate School of Journalism with their latest Gold Crown award at the CSPA’s Spring Convention in New York City March 16.

Within the past two months, The Boiling Point has won 17 awards for writing, online production, and layout, capped by its first Pacemaker award from the National Scholastic Press Association.

Although The Boiling Point had been nominated for both the online and print Pacemakers a total of six times in the past, they had never won until last month, when they were awarded one of 22 Online Pacemakers given nationwide at NSPA’s annual spring convention in San Francisco.

The paper and its staff this year also won top awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) — including their sixth consecutive Gold Crown Award — along with Quill and Scroll International Honorary Journalism Society and the Jewish Scholastic Press Association.

According to Ms. Amber Billings, NSPA’s Communications Director, the Pacemaker is given to the staff of the winners for their work throughout the year in six categories: online, newspaper, yearbook, magazine and broadcast. She said there were 202 entries in the online category.

Photo courtesy of
FIRST: The Boiling Point won its first Online Pacemaker award April 14 at the National Scholastic Press Association’s Conference in San Francisco.

“The Pacemaker is widely considered the top award that’s given out across student media,” Ms. Billings said by interview from Minneapolis.

Judges considered the website’s coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics, as well as interactive outreach with readers and how frequently it was updated.

“Hila and I worked really hard to post all the new content that was coming in, and our writers worked really hard to constantly come out with news whenever possible in order for us to post stories every day,” said sophomore Gilad Spitzer, Deputy Web Editor, who along with Web Editor-in-Chief Hila Machmali runs the Boiling Point website.

In March, for Boiling Point won its sixth CSPA Gold Crown in the hybrid category, for schools publishing news both in online and in print. Out of 1,100 entries for crowns, Boiling Point was one of 17 to win in that category.

The Gold Crown was awarded at CSPA’s annual conference at Columbia University in March.  According to the CSPA website, “Crowns are selected for overall excellence in a head-to-head comparison” with other entrants.

The award was for both the print and online Boiling Point from last school year, 2016-2017. Throughout the year, Boiling Point published three papers, amounting to less than two per semester. This year’s Editor-in-Chief Hannah Jannol admitted she was a little nervous they would not win the Gold Crown due to their lack of papers.

“I think it was probably the combined quality of the three papers that we did put out,” said Hannah. “Any quality we lacked in our print paper, was made up for by our web team who did a tremendous job last year.”

Beside the Gold Crown, the Boiling Point also earned CSPA’s Gold Medal with All-Columbian Honors, the highest ranking given in the organization’s Medalist Critique program, which is a multi-page, scored analysis of the entire year’s work.

Judges are anonymous but write long comments relating to dozens of journalistic standards.

“The courage and relentless pursuit of the truth in telling the stories of the Shalhevet community by the Boiling Point staff is both amazing and inspiring,” the Boiling Point’s judge wrote this year.

“It is evident that the staff always demonstrates professionalism in handling its interactions with the admin of the school and with the community. The digital and print designs are contemporary and exhibit strong visual appeal. The Boiling Point is the complete package and is an exemplar example of what a school newspaper can be.”

The Boiling Point’s Quill and Scroll winners, announced April 10, were Hannah Jannol, Aidel Townsley, Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks, and four junior girls — Lucy Fried, Jordana Glouberman, Talia Abel and Katia Surpin — who together covered the 11th-grade chesed trip to Houston last fall.

In Quill and Scroll’s 2018 International Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest,  which is more focused on writing and reporting than graphics, both public and private high schools nationwide participate, as well as English-language schools from around the globe.

There are  “Sweepstakes” awards for the top three stories internationally in various categories.

Hannah Jannol won the third-place Sweepstakes award in the Profile Writing category for her story titled “Three Languages on the Menu? Baruch Hashem!”  about two native Spanish-speaking employees at kosher restaurants who have made an effort to learn Hebrew, and also Judaism.

Opinion Editor Aidel Townsley won an Honorable Mention in the Editorial category for “Bring the ‘covenant’ to Town Hall,” in which she said that new behavioral standards for Just Community officers should be approved by the whole student body instead of imposed by administration.

Sophomore Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks won an Honorable Mention in the Review Writing category for his story describing — and defending — the new building next door to Shalhevet, a large apartment complex called The Vinz.   In The VINZ: Groundbreaking or grotesque?, he mentioned his favorite parts of the architecture of Shalhevet’s new neighbor, saying, “The postmodern structure is a beacon of ambition.”

And the four juniors won Honorable Mention in the Multimedia Storytelling category for With hammers and heart, juniors help rebuild Houston on chesed trip.

Earlier this year, Boiling Point writers won awards from NSPA and JSPA, the Jewish Scholastic Press Association.

NSPA has the fewest award categories, which makes its awards somewhat harder to win. They are given in the fall for the previous year’s work.

Abbi Sentchuk, Zev Kupferman, and Honor Fuchs won fourth place in the Design of the Year contest in the centerspread category. The winning design was for a set of three stories called “Houses Divided,” about student opinions of the 2016 presidential candidates. Two of the stories were about students who disagreed with their parents.


Fifth place in the NSPA Story of the Year contest in the Editorials category went to alumni Alec Fields and Maayan Waldman ‘17 for their unsigned editorial titled “When Hate Comes to Visit.”  It was about struggles among BP editors when members of the Westboro Baptist Church came to Shalhevet to protest.

CSPA also gave its individual story prizes — called Gold Circle awards — last fall, and the Boiling Point won four of those. Hannah Jannol won a second place Gold Circle award in in-depth news, as well as a third place in cultural features, for her story on the common “finsta” accounts, which she said “bring a different view of teen life to Instagram.”

Current Sports Editor Tobey Lee won a Story of the Year Certificate of Merit in Sports News for his story about the Firehawks basketball loss to Milken in the CIF division championships last year.

And Alec Fields, Co-Editor-in-Chief from last year, also won a second place Gold Circle award in news writing for his story titled “School makes LGBT inclusion official policy, hoping to set an example for Modern Orthodox schools.”

Current Editor-in-Chief Hannah Jannol said sincerity was a big factor of the Boiling Point’s accomplishments.

“We push for a really high caliber of quality and journalistic integrity at The Boiling Point, and I think that’s really evident in the layout of our pages and level of our writing,” said Hannah.

Mrs. Keene attributed the success to Shalhevet’s educational philosophy.

“The fact that the school encourages kids to ask questions — I think our students minds are developing in the direction of inquisitiveness, and not just taking things at face value but wanting to understand what goes on underneath,” Mrs. Keene said. “I think the result of that is that our stories are thorough.”

JSPA’s Grand Prize award for feature reporting went to Hannah Jannol for her several-time award winning story on Shalhevet students and faculty who are children of rabbis.

BP also won three JSPA other awards, one each in first-person, photography and video. Hannah won in first-person reporting for a story on keratin hair-straightening, junior Katia Surpin won in photography for a picture of Eliana Cohen in Houston, and the junior girls together won in video for their Houston package of video, photos and story.