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OMS yearbook earns national honor

Oxford Middle School’s Award-winning Yearbook Staff – Front Row: Molly Neeson, Elise Ormiston, Lindsay Beck, Maryann Stockard, Elaina Medvedik, Aviana Paese, Caitlyn Bently. Second Row: Kaylee Blanchard, Kristen Godwin, Jessica Duronio, Riley Brantley, Gabby Barber, Kati Flanagan, Rose Crane. Third Row: Kaitlyn Barber, Megan Carson, Ashley Murdock, Molly Marks, Morgan Mobley, Hannah Wright, Natalie Mason, Sam Casey, Emily Cleland, Alex Grodzicki, Lucas Linhares. Back Row: Taylor Taraski, Ryan Myers, Alicia Vasquez, Claire Agar and Michelle Higdon. Not Pictured: Tyler Scott, Courtney Bocquet, Lauren Lee. Photo provided. (click for larger version)
June 23, 2010 - Hang on to this year's Oxford Middle School yearbook because it's going to be a collector's item.

The student-produced 2010 publication was inducted into the Walsworth Publishing Company's national Gallery of Excellence.

"I'm so extremely proud of the kids," said OMS Yearbook Adviser Stacy Blaskowski. "This was something that we set out to accomplish this year . . . They worked as a team, which was great to see. They helped each other grow throughout the year."

Walsworth is the company that publishes the middle school's yearbook. Yearbooks chosen for the gallery are distinguished by their comprehensive coverage, innovative design and superior copy and photographs.

"When I went into the classroom, I started crying and I showed them the plaque," Blaskowski said. "To see how excited they were of their accomplishment, that's what makes all the hard work and the headaches worth it. To me, that was the best moment."

Only a small percentage of yearbooks that Walsworth publishes are selected for this distinction. Yearbooks showcased in the gallery are used by the company's national sales force as examples of quality, loaned to schools across the country to generate ideas, and displayed at regional, state and national conventions and workshops.

While this is the OMS yearbook's first national award, it's but the latest in a string of honors. Prior to this win, the yearbook garnered three regional awards from Walsworth.

"The way it works is you have to be recognized regionally for three years and then your yearbook is considered at the national level," Blaskowski explained. "This was the first year we were able to be considered at that level and we won."

Blaskowski believes it was the improved caption-writing that really put the 2009-10 yearbook over the top and helped separate it from the competition.

"I think this year that was one of the major things that stood out about the book," she said. "I went to some yearbook conferences at the beginning of the school year to really get a grasp of what exactly the kids should be doing (with regard to caption writing)."

From there, she taught her students how to use their words to best capture the essence of a photograph.

She also taught them how to incorporate student quotes into their captions.

"It made the captions a little more personal," Blaskowski said.

Another facet of the OMS yearbook that made it an award-winner were the student-written articles about sports, activities and events throughout the school year.

"From what I have been told about other middle school yearbooks, middle school teachers do not have their kids write articles about basketball, soccer, the eighth-grade camping trip. There's not a lot of writing in their books," she said. "In our book, that is a huge thing . . . I teach them how to write like a journalist would write."

"I know not all middle school students want to read their yearbook. They want to see pictures," Blaskowski noted. "But for me to have a quality book, I think articles are very important. That's something else that stands out about our book compared to other middle school yearbooks."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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