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Christopher Dello Russo Wins Gold Key at 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards


The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are given to young artists and writers who are enrolled in high school that have exceptional artistic skills and literary talents. Students across North America can submit to any of the 29 categories; and, in 2019, over 320,000 works were submitted to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards contest. Students from public schools, private schools, and students who are homeschooled are all welcome to submit something to any of the 29 categories. About 300,000 dollars is given out every year for scholarships to the winners.

Winners are recognized at a local ceremony near the student’s school district. However, top placers, titled Gold Key winners, move on from this ceremony to a national contest. If selected nationally, these students are honored with an award presentation in New York City at Carnegie Hall.

Durant High School student Christopher Dello Russo, a 2020 Gold Key winner for poetry and short stories, said he likes to write about horror and comedy. Dello Russo said he writes because he enjoys writing. Dello Russo began writing in fifth grade after reading the Percy Jackson book series, which encouraged him to read more fiction books.

Dello Russo said his English teachers inspired him to write more and so he submitted to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Dello Russo also said “I thought I had a good chance at winning a Gold Key and when I won, it was a pleasant surprise.” Now that Dello Russo has won a Gold Key, it makes him proud that he has been recognized as a winner.

Dello Russo said “writing as a job is a perfect way of making me stop enjoying it, so I’ll keep it as a hobby.” Dello Russo does not plan to go to New York City where all of the winners are honored, but is satisfied with his level of recognition.

About the Writer
Photo of Jordan Dabbour
Jordan Dabbour, Business Manager

Jordan Dabbour is a junior at Durant High School and is Advertising Business Manager for the PawPrint newspaper. He is an avid sports fan, and loves to...

Durant Journalism Succeeds at FSPA


Majortity of the Pawprint staff gathers to celebrate their victories.

Durant’s Journalism Program found great success at the 2019 Fall Florida Scholastic Press Association Conference.  Over 800 students attended the conference at USF on November 1st.  Three students from Durant’s newspaper and yearbook classes won on the spot contest awards in the district and four won in the state of Florida for their articles written in various categories. Durant’s Newspaper teacher, Mrs. Kious, also won Teacher of the Year in District 4.

Mrs. Kious, who has grown the PawPrint from seven students to 15 in the span of four years, won teacher of the year throughout Hillsborough, Polk, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, and Pinellas county.  Mrs. Stone, Durant’s yearbook teacher, nominated her co-worker for the award at FSPA because of the success the PawPrint has had under Mrs. Kious. Mrs. Stone said, “Mrs. Kious has … revitalized the newspaper program… she, like, threw herself into it.” 

She attributed the success of the PawPrint’s web presence and stronger, motivated writers originating from the newspaper program to Mrs. Kious and said she is “a good teacher and deserves recognition.”

Durant Pride Yearbook
Mrs. Kious shares words of wisdom with Web Editor Angelique Robinson, Business Manager Jordan Dabbourand Staff Writer Nick Travis as they enjoy lunch at FSPA.

Mrs. Kious will be entered for teacher of the year in the state of Florida and is very deserving of the honor.  

Many of the PawPrint’s staff writers won awards for FSPA’s Fall Digital Contests in various categories as well.  Students who won digital contests placed in the top 10% of winners in the entire state of Florida.

David Fackson, a junior who joined PawPrint this year, wrote an article about the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2019 season for the Sports Feature category.  Despite not being able to make it to the conference, his article won in Florida. “It was nice to feel, nice to see,” he said about winning at FSPA. 

He also said he had never won something like this, and the award confirmed that he was on the right track with his writing as a journalist.

Lily Belcher, a sophomore, also placed in the state for a Sports Feature on Kevin Cash, thanks to help from Mrs. Kious and Jennifer Dages, the Editor-in-Chief of Writing for the PawPrint. 

Marina Hawkins and Adamari Jaimez won in Academic Photography with their photos of a Durant’s chemistry teacher, Mr. Haley, conducting an experiment during class.  Marina is the Social Media Coordinator for the PawPrint and said, “It feels good to know I could put that on my college resume or applications.”

Adamari is a junior who is considering a career in Photo-journalism.  She said that winning at FSPA has motivated her to work harder in journalism and consider Photo-journalism as a potential job in the future.  

The PawPrint also saw success in the On-the-Spot Contests at FSPA.  Mattie Powers, who also joined PawPrint this year and hopes to eventually work in broadcast journalism, won third place in the News Anchor Challenge.  She had ten minutes to memorize the story and report it as a news anchor would. Mattie also takes TV Production at Durant and is working on her articles for the winter edition of the PawPrint.  Mattie said “Winning at FSPA meant the world to me because it really confirmed what I wanted to do as a career, which is to be a news anchor.”

Durant Pride Yearbook
The staff begins to brainstorm their ideas for their on the spot contests.

Two students from Durant’s yearbook won an architectural on-the-spot photography contest.  Javier Lopez and Merrick Wigington featured photos of architectural aspects of the USF Marshall Center.  

FSPA has provided many journalism students with validation for their dreams of becoming a journalist.  It gave potential journalists the opportunity to improve their writing, interviewing, and broadcasting skills.  It allowed staff writers to explore different types of journalism and to discover their journalistic passions.  

About the Writer
Photo of Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher, Editor in Chief

Lily Belcher is a junior at Durant High School and is the Editor in Chief for the PawPrint. She is freelancing for the Osprey Observer this year and hopes...

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