Legacy Newspaper, Yearbook Earn National Awards

students in front of computers
Members of yearbook and newspaper staff work on yearbook proofs in the journalism room. Students work on both publications. Photo courtesy of The Rider Online

Though still in its infancy based on the history of many other student publications, the Rider Online newspaper at Mansfield Legacy High School has already established quite a, well, legacy.

Legacy High School opened in 2007, and the newspaper started a year later. In 2010 it was awarded its first Gold Crown Award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

It has won an award in the annual competition every year since, including another Gold Crown honor this year. The award means the Rider Online is one of the top eight online high school newspapers in America.

The Rider Online was also the first high school newspaper in Texas to win a national award, said its founder and adviser Leland Mallett.

“It is a great feeling that we were named as the best of the best. I poured my time, effort and heart into this program during the year, and this award validates to me that those sacrifices were worth it,” Editor-in-Chief Brinley Koenig, a senior, said. “I’m grateful that we were able to continue our streak of winning national awards. Again, I love seeing mine and my fellow editors’ and staffers’ hard work pay off.”

Continuing the tradition

Fellow senior and Editor-in-Chief Ryland Mallett said continuing a tradition started by his dad makes the award even more special.

“My dad being the adviser, I feel like I’ve been a part of this since the beginning, and it’s so great to win this as a senior,” he said. “What I’m super proud of is I focused on the writing aspect, make sure all of our writers had really good stories.”

This is the seventh time since 2010 that the Rider Online has achieved Gold status from the CSPA. They’ve also received Silver accolades four times, including the previous two years.

“Winning a Gold or Silver Crown is a huge honor. Winning the Gold is that extra bonus,” Leland Mallett said.

Members of Legacy Student Media tour the nation’s capitol while in DC for the national journalism convention in November. Congressman Ron Wright took the group on a tour of office buildings and then the House Chamber. Photo courtesy of The Rider Online

Leland Mallett said what separates the Rider Online from other high school newspapers is its consistency.

“From how often the site is updated to how we cover Legacy’s student body, the students strive to be consistent and dependable,” he said.

As for the secret to winning 11 consecutive years, he continued, “Quality students with passion is the common theme. It’s not a one-person task. It takes editors, leaders, writers, photographers, designers, marketers and so much more. The students really love what they do.

“Our analytics show that stories that focus on people do better. We try to have a personal angle in every story. It’s also important to market coverage on social media. Most students who are featured in the story will redistribute the content, which causes more readership.”

Staff has worked through pandemic

Like most publications, the Rider Online staff has had to work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We already work away from the classroom with Google Drive, so it’s somewhat the same. It’s been more challenging meeting together for ideas and getting information from students and teachers on campus,” Leland Mallett said. “However, it’s provided a real-world experience for the students.”

Senior-to-be and incoming Editor-In-Chief Sarah Akande, said, “These awards, to me, are a reflection on how hard our staff works and how well our editors package the site. Winning another Gold Crown gives me a boost of confidence, but it also increases the expectations and goals I have set for myself.

“I am well aware of what my role is and I will put in the work to make sure that my staff writers, our photographers and videographers continue to create quality content. Looking back on what we have achieved, I know that my co-EIC and I will work to make this year even better.”

That fellow incoming EIC and senior is Jordyn Folsom, who shared similar thoughts, “Getting another Gold Crown is very encouraging for me, but also adds pressure to an already difficult job. Because The Rider has won these awards for several years consecutively, it’s every EIC’s nightmare to be in charge the year we don’t get one.

“However, knowing what my staff is capable of, I am confident in our ability to maintain our streak and to continue to improve.”

Newspaper, yearbook also win individual awards

Winning individual Gold Circle Awards from the CSPA for the Rider Online this year were:

McKenna Collier, second place, Photo and Audio Slideshow.

Jordan Melson, third place, Sports News.

Staff, third place, Headline Writing.

The Arena yearbook at Legacy also has a history of success, winning these Gold Circle Awards this year:

Melson, third place, Sports Reporting.

Breanne Jackson and Tanner Nunn, third place, Organization of the Greeks Spread: Multiple Pages.

Jackson, Dominic Bird and Abby Greenman, honorable mention, Sports Multi-Page Spread.

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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters