Smithson Valley High Journalism Students Receive State Awards

June 26, 2023 - Smithson Valley High School journalism students received awards at several state-level contests this spring for their photography and writing skills, and the school’s online newspaper and yearbook were honored as well.

The journalism program at SVHS continues to win awards annually, and this school year was no exception. The Valley Ventana news staff received a Bronze Star in the online newspaper category (, and the yearbook staff received a Distinguished Merit award at the Interscholastic League Press Conference.

Leading the Valley Ventana staff this year was editor in chief Emma Siebold and managing editor Bethany Mann. Yearbook editors were Taylor Baker, Emily Ingram, Olivia Ingram, Annie Osborne, Bridgette Polcyn, Kayla Rackley and Nia Sagaga. The journalism teacher and adviser is Margaret Edmonson.

Additionally, students in the SVHS commercial photography classes and media team members received top honors in the Association of Texas Photography Instructors’ (ATPI) Rising Star contest, submitting four portfolios with 10 photos each.

The portfolio entries and the student photographers are listed here by category.

Sports/action portfolio received first place with Mitchell Brackley, Daniel Grant, Emily Ingram, Campbell Lueck, Zane Klein, Davis Kuhn and Madison Trexler.

Landscape/nature portfolio received third place with Krystian Cable, Abigail Clark, Ronald Alexander DeWees, Grace Dosek, Alissa Kastle, Abby Lasater, Josslyne Parma, Kyla Phillips and Zoe Schaper.

Documentary/photojournalism portfolio received second place with Ronald Alexander DeWees, Daniel Grant, Gia Herrera, Olivia Ingram, Phoebe Lee, Annie Osborne and Kayla Rackley.

Architecture portfolio received honorable mention with Abigail Clark, Ronald Alexander DeWees, Grace Dosek, Alissa Kastle and Lauren Perez.

In addition, ATPI selected SVHS student Alexis Estrada as the 2023 Sharon Jacobus Memorial Scholarship recipient. Totaling $500, this scholarship is intended for students interested in pursuing a career in education.

Students who received individual awards in the Class 5A online newspaper contest include the following students and categories with one student honored with the Tops in Texas award for her personal opinion column. This award is chosen from all the first-place winners 1A through 6A in the category. Lucian Steube-Lintner won this award for her column titled “Governor Abbott continues uneducated intervention.”

  • Feature writing: third place for Bethany Mann and honorable mention for Alex Whelchel.
  • Photo portfolio: third place for Davis Kuhn.
  • Personal opinion column: first place for Lucian Steube-Lintner and second place for Alex Whelchel.
  • Entertainment review: honorable mention for Bethany Mann.
  • Entertainment feature: honorable mention for Emma Siebold.
  • Sports news story: honorable mention for Emilie Ramirez.
  • Sports feature story: first place for Emma Siebold and honorable mention for Bethany Mann.
  • News feature: third place for Bethany Mann.

Students also received Best in Texas awards through the Texas Association of Journalism Educators.

  • Sports photo: second place for Mitchell Brackley.
  • Story portfolio: excellent for Emma Siebold and Bethany Mann.
  • News story: honorable mention for Alex Whelchel and Bethany Mann.
  • News feature story: excellent for Bethany Mann.
  • Feature story: superior for Bethany Mann and excellent for Alex Whelchel.
  • Sports game story: excellent for Jackson Posey.
  • Sports feature story: superior for Emma Siebold and excellent for Bethany Mann.
  • Entertainment feature: superior for Emma Siebold.
  • Personal column: excellent for Gia Herrera.
  • Personal opinion column: excellent for Lucian Steube-Lintner.
  • Feature photo: honorable mention for Phoebe Lee.
  • Sports action photo: superior for Mitchell Brackley.


-Journalism students from Smithson Valley High School received top honors at several competitions for photography and writing this spring. They were honored by the Comal ISD Board of Trustees on June 22.


Read more Comal ISD news here.