Journalists impress judges in annual contest


Each year, CSMA recognizes strong student work through the “XXX of the Year” portfolio competitions, which encompass various areas of speciality: ReporterDesignerPhotographerBroadcast Journalist, and Middle School Journalist. This year’s candidates submitted portfolios by April 15. Those submissions were reviewed by top journalists and educators from across the nation.


Middle School Journalist of the Year
Caitlyn Nguyen – Drake MS

Judge Sarah Nichols’ comments: Congratulations! You show so much strength as a designer and writer. Your portfolio demonstrates considerable thought and planning – your attention to detail results in a professional product that does a great job showcasing your work. Using Canva highlighted your creative and unique abilities. The format of the resume matched the slideshow design perfectly, which was a nice touch. Not many students have a resume at this stage of life, so you set yourself apart right away.


Reporter of the Year
Kira Zizzo – Rock Canyon HS

Judge Jeff Browne’s comments: What an amazing young reporter! In a competition among five outstanding young journalists — two of whom had won the award previously — Kira’s work stood out again because of the depth of the pieces, the value of the pieces to her primary audience, and the variety of stories she covered. I’m so happy to see that her work as an editor-in-chief didn’t stop her from contributing her reporting and writing to The Rock. 


Designer of the Year
Serena Nguyen – Regis Jesuit HS

Judge Mitch Eden’s comments:

  • Your designs feature so many excellent features: text weaving, clever entry points, gradients. You experiment so much and pull it off each time.
  • Your designs are modern and clean
  • I simply love the black and white with spot color red – stunning and the portfolio highlight
  • Your statement also illustrates your grasp of design content. Well written.
  • Watch too many colors at times (Better for It–green seems out of place)


Broadcast Journalist of the Year
Benjamin Parris – Cherry Creek HS

Judge Aaron Manfull’s comments: Really impressive job here, Benjamin. Super impressive portfolio and diverse work from videography and announcing to writing and social media. Your work is impressive in a variety of areas and that’s a great characteristic for a journalist to have in 2022. While you have done some super impressive work for your school, it’s also nice to see you doing a lot of work outside of school for places like Denver Sports Mag and the Colorado High School Activities Association.


Photographer of the Year
Kira Zizzo – Rock Canyon HS

Judge Mark Murray’s comments: Kira’s portfolio contained the strongest storytelling moments and demonstrated her skills as a photojournalist. All of her photos included well written captions that added to our knowledge by going beyond what we could see in the photograph. I think her portfolio also had a nice variety of images – from student protests to sports to strong reaction moments.