Announcing COVID-19 Special Coverage Awards

Traditional Best of Colorado awards may be delayed, but great student work carries on and we’d like to honor it

Announcing COVID-19 Special Coverage Awards

Special COVID-19 Coverage Challenges
SPRING, 2020

There is no official word as to whether everyone will be returning to campus this school year, but the governor has repeatedly said it is unlikely. That is sad on multiple levels, but we are living in “interesting times,” whether we like it or not. We know that the advisers and students among our membership are not calling anything off early, and that the Coronavirus pandemic is precisely the kind of unique event that sparks great journalism.

What we DON’T want to do: Add stress and angst to anyone’s life. The special Best of Colorado awards we are announcing are not meant to replace our traditional Best of Colorado contests (submission deadline for those has been moved to July 15). And the journalism students produce between now and the end of the school year can certainly be submitted for our summer contests.

What we DO want to do:

  • Provide advisers and students with some ideas for regular class assignments that include authentic audiences. Some teachers may wish to simply use all or part of these contest categories as part of their new online curriculum plans. 
  • Provide opportunities for students to be honored this spring for their excellent work. Our plan is to mail award certificates directly to students’ homes (if their home addresses are included with the submissions). We can also mail to schools or to advisers, if those are better options.
  • Provide opportunities for anyone visiting our website to see and learn from student journalism in these extraordinary times. We will post as much student work as we can.

There will be three enrollment classifications – up to 1,000 students in your school (includes all middle schools), 1,000 – 1,700 students, and over 1,700 students. Depending on the total number of entries, we will award first, second, third, and honorable mentions in each enrollment category. We anticipate that most entries will be the work of one student, but we will allow as many as FIVE students to be entered as a team (and each student would earn a certificate). Certificates will be printed and mailed as soon as judging is complete for each BOC Awards Window (we are hoping for within one week of each window deadline — see below). Window #3 is open NOW.

Few, if any comments, will be made on individual entries (these are contests, not critiques), though we will ask judges for some overall comments on the entire category. Advisers, of course, may wish to respond to student work locally and/or help students build online portfolios of work. Based on demand and communication from members, additional categories may be added, beginning with Awards Window #2.

Have an idea for a contest category? Contact [email protected]

A major change for these special spring 2020 contests is that each school medium may submit up to THREE entries in each category, for each two-week contest window. We suggest that if an adviser finds that 20 students are fired up about entering a contest (which would be great), that the school conduct its own qualifying competition to tighten entries to the top three. Of course, a medium may choose to enter one or two entries, if that works best. 

Spring Coverage Contest Schedule of Contests

BOC Awards Window #1 – April 1-13 (The entry window is now closed. Look for winners on our site.)

  • General Coverage 1
  • Print Design 1
  • Front Porch Family Portrait 1
  • 6 Words, 6 Shots 1

BOC Awards Window #2 – April 14 – 27 (Now closed. Winners will be posted by May 1.)

  • General Coverage 2
  • Print Design 2
  • Curbside Restaurant Reviews
  • The Prom that Wasn’t

BOC Awards Window #3 – April 28 – May 11 (Now closed. Winners will be posted by May 14)

  • General Print/Web Post Coverage 3 (revised category)
  • General Multimedia Coverage 3 (new category)
  • Print Design 3
  • Front Porch Family Portrait  2
  • 6 Words, 6 Shots 2

BOC Awards Window #4 – May 12 – 25



General Coronavirus/COVID-19 Coverage (Windows 1-4)

Each school community has different needs and different access to technology, websites, etc., so this contest category invites any coverage, on any platform, that focuses on the pandemic and how your school and community are dealing with our unprecedented spring.

Submissions may be from one platform or from some combination. The online form will provide a range of attachment and URL options. 

NOTE: This contest category will run continuously, with top entries being awarded for each two-week period until the end of the school year or whenever schools return to normal (whichever is first). Students may enter during each of the four contest windows with new reporting.


Coronavirus/COVID-19 Page/Spread Design (Windows 1-4)

Many schools will be posting “print” work through this spring (not to mention yearbook spreads still being finished up for the 2020 book), and this category seeks to honor excellent work in presentation, organization, and effectiveness of print design. The design will be 80 percent of what the judge will look for, with the remaining 20 percent being the content/effectiveness of the elements within the design.

Submission is through either a PDF or a link to 

NOTE: This contest category will run continuously, with top entries being awarded for each two-week period until the end of the school year or whenever schools return to normal (whichever is first). Students may enter during each of the four contest windows with new reporting.


Front Porch Family Portrait plus One Story (Windows 1 & 3)


Photographers across the U.S. are taking images of families (posing on their front porches/steps) from about 10-20 feet away. You can document a historical piece of news while abiding by the stay-at-home, social distancing and isolation orders.

Two recent broadcast stories, one from Massachusetts and one from Texas, provide more background.

We add a writing element to this coverage competition, asking for up to 300 words on how the family pictured is coping with the pandemic, perhaps sharing their favorite story or stories about this “new normal.” The interview(s) may happen as part of the photo shoot or may be conducted electronically.

Your submission should include one JPG portrait along with your text as a Word doc or PDF. Students may enter either of two contest windows, or enter both times, with different material/families.


“Six Words, Six Shots” How I Am Dealing with Boredom Challenge (Windows 1 & 3)

Thanks to Adam Dawkins, CJE, adviser at Regis Jesuit, for sharing this idea. Read all about the assignment he gave his students here.

Check out sample videos from other students here.

Your submission should be a video shared through any accessible hosting platform, whether YouTube or SchoolTube or a website or even social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). Students may enter either of two contest windows, or enter both times, with different material.


Curbside Restaurant Reviews (Window 2)

Everyone needs to eat, even during a pandemic, and many restaurants are offering curbside pick up options, as well as assorted delivery services. Your readers want some advice on best values, best quality of the food, best types of food to order, best stories from those brave restaurant workers showing up every day to provide food (and a bit of fun) for the community.

You can focus on one restaurant or provide a selection of restaurant choices for your readers. You can rate them. You can add photos (taken from respectful distances). You can include your families in the assessment of the foods.

Submissions may be from social media platforms, from personal blogs, from a website URL, in the form of a podcast or a video, and may be of any length.


The Prom That Wasn’t (Window 2)

Proms were canceled or delayed by statewide orders, but lots of preparations had been made. Dresses had been purchased or made. Tuxes had been rented, and dinner reservations had been booked. How would you cover “the prom that wasn’t” as an Instagram story? Would you include photos of students in their prom apparel? Suggested set lists for the DJ or band? Videos of couples dancing or dining, but virtually? Fun “promposals” that you can recreate? Personal anecdotes from students on how they feel about the loss of prom? Other great ideas?

Your submission should be the URL of your Instagram story (though we also accept “print” pages/spreads, as PDFs or on


The Class of 2020 Graduation Speech I Would Give (Window 4)

This is a commentary writing contest, open to all grades. Graduation ceremonies are likely to be virtual, if they happen at all this spring, but perhaps you have some thoughts you would like to share with your school community. The speech can take up to four minutes to deliver (about 800 words) and you may record it on a Podcast platform or a video. Also submit the text as a Word document or PDF.


Commentary on Life in a Pandemic (Window 4)

This is a commentary writing contest, open to all grades. At some point, you must have realized that remote learning and the complete disruption of what you expected from school this spring was something you had to deal with. Whether it’s impassioned argument or humor, satire or analysis, this is your chance to share your story of the spring of 2020. This is not a staff editorial but an informal essay/commentary that shares your experiences and your voice. Length is up to you, and submit the text as a Word document or PDF.


Most Valuable Staff Member During the Pandemic (Window 4)

Each medium may name ONE student as MVP for the spring, based on whatever criteria each adviser desires. Our vision is to reward leadership, service to the community, and going beyond expectations. Only advisers may submit names, one per member-medium advised. The choice is local, but the award certificate comes from CSMA and we will post the complete list of honorees in June on our site.