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Sandy High editor is Oregons top student journalist

Tiffany Fegel is the second Sandy student to win honor in three years
by: Marcus Hathcock, Senior Tiffany Fegel says she loves the process of putting together a newspaper about as much as she does reading the finished product.

Tiffany Fegel, Editor of the Sandy High School newspaper The Mountain Echoes, hadn't planned on going into journalism for her career, but after she found out last week that she is the Oregon Journalism Education Association's 2007 High School Journalist of the Year, she might rethink things.

The honor, given to just one student per year, is based on a young journalist's quality, breadth and depth of work throughout their high school career.

Still stunned just hours after she received official notification Thursday, Feb. 22, Fegel humbly said, 'I was thinking about it - and I don't want this to sound cocky, because I'm not a cocky person - but not a lot of people can say they're the best at what they do in the whole state. That's just really cool.'

Fegel - a 17-year-old senior and the Sandy Post's high school intern - is the second Sandy High School student to receive the honor, and the second in just three years. Lindsay Schnell won the award in 2005.

Sandy High Newspaper Advisor J.D. McIntire said Fegel received the award based on the portfolio she submitted to the OJEA.

Fegel's portfolio - 30 pages strong - showcased her varied talents with examples of her writing (opinion, sports, arts/entertainment, news), page design in multiple sections, photography and yearbook. It also included several letters of recommendation, a personal essay and evidence of her previous honors at the state Publication Olympics and Write-offs competitions, among other items.

'It emphasized that she does everything and that she does it well,' McIntire said. 'Other entries didn't have that.'

As Oregon's top student journalist, Fegel gets a free ticket to the National Journalism Education Association's conference in Denver, Colo. April 12-15, and is in the running for National Student Journalist of the Year.

Fegel was quick to give credit for her win to McIntire - known around the newsroom as 'Mac'.

'I think it speaks a lot for Mac,' Fegel said. 'He just encourages me to do my best and encouraged me to try to do a little bit of everything.'

'I'd like to say I taught them everything they know,' McIntire said of his two students who won Journalist of the Year, 'but they obviously had talent coming in.'

Fegel started her newspaper career in seventh grade at Cedar Ridge Middle School, eventually becoming editor. In high school she went from beginning journalism student to Echoes staff writer to Sports Editor. At the end of last year, McIntire said picking Fegel as editor was an easy choice.

I can always see the kids start treating someone as the editor before the end of the year,' he said. 'I chose her as editor, but I think the whole class chose her.'

'I try to get a student in there that's not just a talented journalist, but can relate to the other kids - someone with people skills who the kids can rally around,' McIntire said.

Her colleagues say she is that person.

'Tiffany leads by example,' said Echoes Sports Editor Anthony Botts, a senior who has been with Fegel in journalism classes the last four years. 'She's really funny and kind, and she's not shy about telling you what needs to be done and how to do it.'

Spotlight Editor Natanya Swanson said of Fegel, 'Tiffany has been wonderful and fun to work with. She is definitely a great leader with great ideas, and is always there to help you out.'

In the last four years, Fegel says that her involvement in the Mountain Echoes has stretched her as a journalist as well as a person.

'I think I've developed my style over the last four years, I guess,' Fegel said, noting that her specific writer's voice has materialized, as has her knowledge of leadership, time management and proper journalistic composition and mechanics. She's also dealt with one of her biggest fears - talking to people she doesn't know.

Although Fegel is involved in other activities at Sandy High - she is the President of the Key Club, a member of the National Honor Society, a yearbook staffer and part of student government - 'newspaper has always been at the top.'

Fegel takes a lot of personal pride in the Echoes, often referring to it as her paper.

'This is mine,' she says. 'I put my everything into it as much as I can, and it's nice to be able to say this is what I do. There are jocks and drama kids - well, I'm a newspaper nerd.'

On Friday, Feb. 23, the most recent issue of The Mountain Echoes came out, and even though she's looked at them seemingly a million times already, Fegel and her colleagues pored over their newspaper, relishing the special joy that comes from seeing their work in print.

But Fegel enjoys the process of putting out a paper as much as she does seeing the finished product. 'I love press time and deadlines, even when it's stressful,' Fegel said. 'The excitement of it all is so much fun.'

Fegel will attend Oregon State University in Corvallis, having received $1,800 a year scholarship for academic achievement. Now, thanks to the top journalist award, she gets another $1,000 toward her studies. Those studies, she says, won't likely be journalistic in nature. Fegel is preparing to study environmental science, a subject she says is her passion.

One of the first people Fegel called to tell them about her award was her grandfather. 'He said, 'Well, maybe you need to rethink this whole environmental science stuff and go into journalism.' I don't know about that.'

'She'd be great at (journalism),' McIntire said, 'but she'd be great at anything. She'll be successful, which is the ultimate thing.'

No matter what she does, Fegel says she wants to leave behind a legacy - but not necessarily as the 2007 High School Journalist of the Year.

'I still sometimes capitalize the words 'Junior' and 'Senior,' ' Fegel said, admitting a recurring style error. She hopes that like whenever future student journalists make the same error, McIntyre will say they did a 'Tiffany.'