Moraine Valley Community College journalism students and those associated with the college student newspaper, The Glacier, won 14 awards from the Illinois Community College Journalism Association, including News Story of the Year, Reporter of the Year, Best Individual News Story and Best Sports Column.

The Glacier’s new website, launched a week after the pandemic shut down the college in March 2020, took second place in the state and third in the new all-around category, Best Media.

The News Story of the Year was for a series of COVID-19-related articles written last spring by students Wendy McKee, of Orland Hills, Natalie Zalewski, of Burbank, Zachary Bertram, of Tinley Park, Payton Millhouse, of Monee, and Deana Elhit, of Orland Park, who also won Reporter of the Year and took second in Feature Photo.

Best Sports Column went to Ethan Holesha, of Oak Lawn, and Best Individual News Story was awarded to Mariah Trujillo, of Bridgeview. Other awards included first place for News Photo (Isaac Velasquez, of Alsip); second place for Arts Review (Valerie Olivares, of Orland Park); and third place for Arts Review (Andrew Pahl, of Worth), Sports Feature (Joey Fernandez, of Oak Lawn), Page Design (Carolyn Thill, of Orland Park, Nathaly Duenas, of Burbank, and Ethan Smith, of Orland Park), Multimedia Story (Brendan McQuinn, of Oak Lawn) and Staff Editorial (Mariam Itani, of Worth).

“I was so overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude. To be recognized was itself a great honor, but to win the actual award was a shock. To have your work judged and appreciated is such a great feeling,” Elhit said. “I hope my articles have impacted someone in some way. I want to help spread stories that need to be told and help give a voice in any way I can.”

“I was honored to be recognized,” said Thill, editor-in-chief of The Glacier. “We have a very talented team working with The Glacier. Not only the immediate staff, but all the writers who contributed stories have done an outstanding job keeping readers engaged with interesting and helpful articles.”

This haul of awards came after a revitalization of the journalism program and a collaborative effort between Lisa Couch, communications and journalism instructor, and Jan Kopischke, student publications adviser. The students in Couch’s classes and those involved with The Glacier helped take the journalism program in new directions and thrived.

“I am incredibly proud of these students. It’s amazing they were able to do this work while facing the challenges of a pandemic and an online environment. Some of them faced additional health or personal challenges as well and still managed to produce excellent work,” Couch explained. “After working on revitalizing and building the journalism program over the past couple of years, I’m so excited to see it take off. The fact that the awards were spread among so many students shows we are on the right track. I’m looking forward to building on this success.”