Posted on: April 8, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Nick Stulga, News Editor

Photo by Lisa Couch
Opinion editor Rosie Finnegan shows off an award.

The Glacier, Moraine Valley’s student-run publication, was named Best Student Media in the state Friday at the Illinois Community College Journalism Association conference held at Eastern Illinois University.

The publication took home a total of 25 awards–including News Story of the Year and Reporter of the Year–surpassing last year’s haul of 14 awards. The contest was judged by professional journalists from around the state.

The website won first place in the Mike Foster General Excellence Award. One judge said, “I’m impressed with how the website goes the extra mile to inform and entertain the readers.” 

The team placed first in a wide range of categories, including news, sports, arts review and graphic design. The award for Best Student Media is given to the publication with the most points overall.

For the second year in a row, The Glacier won News Story of the Year, for a series of COVID-related articles written by JRN 111 and COM 151 students Ethan Holesha, Mariah Trujillo, Valerie Olivares, Kaitlyn Davies, Yunuen Perez and Mariam Itani, and COM 101 student Paige Doherty. Judges praised the “strong, clear writing including interviews from administrators and students.”

Trujillo took home multiple first-place awards for her work last year as a reporter and then as news editor. Trujillo, now editor-in-chief, was named Reporter of the Year based on three different stories she wrote localizing major issues: climate change, the disappearance of Gabby Petito, and declining college enrollment. She also won first place in the individual News Story category and first place in Headline Writing.

“I was amazed,” Trujillo said. “I was submitted for categories I wasn’t even aware of and I walked away with more than I could’ve ever wished for.”

The paper last fall was under the leadership of Deana Elhit, who took home first place for best Feature Photo.

Elhit attributed a large part of the paper’s success to journalism and communications professor Lisa Couch. Couch helps run The Glacier’s weekly editors meetings, fostering the creation of story ideas and guiding students in reporting and journalistic writing techniques. All the while, she teaches multiple journalism classes on campus and gives students the chance to have their writing featured in the paper.

Photo by Marcus Collins
Student journalists tour EIU broadcast facilities during the ICCJA conference.

“I’m so beyond proud of our publication and how far we have come as writers!” Elhit said. “Professor Couch has left such an impact on all of her students with her dedication and hard work throughout the years.”

Couch herself is proud of her students’ work ethic and dedication.

“I’m incredibly proud of the students who work so hard week after week to produce and edit excellent content across the board,” Couch said. “They have done this despite the challenges presented by the pandemic in obtaining interviews and photos and covering news and events remotely.”

Current editors of The Glacier attended the day-long ICCJA conference Friday, which included workshops by EIU journalism faculty. Moraine’s student publications adviser, Jan Kopischke, is serving as vice president of the ICCJA and presented the awards that evening. When she first learned of The Glacier’s standings in early March, she found it difficult to keep the publication’s success quiet.

“My initial reaction in March was holy sh*t,” Kopischke said. “Then I uttered a few whoops and took a few happy dance steps in The Glacier office. Last night, I could finally be proud, out loud.”

As future journalists, we are in need to inform the public of what is happening in the world. Keep asking questions and dive deep.”

Deana Elhit, former Editor-in-Chief of The Glacier

Carolyn Thill, the first editor-in-chief to preside over the publication’s online version, had the challenge of switching the media over from print.

“The pressure or challenge is more on writing a story that reaches the reader from the first couple of lines,” said Thill on the struggle of captivating a reader through a screen. She believes the story has to be as interesting as it is informative and that it is essential to be aware of online trends. Thill says she is thankful for having the opportunity to work with the publication in the past.

Elhit says good journalism is needed now more than ever: “As future journalists, we are in need to inform the public of what is happening in the world. Keep asking questions and dive deep.”

For students looking to get involved in journalism, Couch encourages them to sign up for JRN 111-Media Writing, which is being offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-12:15 in the fall. For more information, they can email her at

Trujillo also has some words of wisdom moving forward.

“Don’t be afraid to try. Whether it be coming in to eavesdrop on a meeting, or sending The Glacier a story idea, don’t be afraid to just reach out. It’s our job to tell your story and it can be yours to tell theirs.”

Photo by Marcus Collins
Glacier editors, along with student publications adviser Jan Kopischke and journalism professor Lisa Couch, celebrate their awards after the ceremony at EIU.

Individual awards spread across categories

  • Mariah Trujillo, former news editor, now editor-in-chief, won Reporter of the Year, as well as first place for individual News Story and first place for Headline Writing.
  • Joey Fernandez, sports editor, won first place for Game Story and third place for Sports Feature. The Glacier Guys podcast, which he started with former sports editor/managing editor Ethan Holesha, won third place for Podcast. Holesha also took honorable mention for Sports Column.
  • Sarah Schudt, former arts & entertainment editor, now graphic design intern, won first place for Arts Review.
  • Deana Elhit, former editor-in-chief and features editor, won first place for Feature Photo and third place for Editorial Writer of the Year.
  • Sarah Kauffman, graphic design intern, won first place for Graphics and first place for Editorial Cartoon.
  • Rosie Finnegan, opinion editor, won third place for Staff Editorial and second place for Headline Writing.
  • Marcus Collins, photo editor, won second place for News Photo and honorable mention for Sports Photo. He also shared the third-place award for Editorial Writer of the Year with Elhit.
  • Elhit, Holesha, Schudt and Trujillo won second place in Page Design for a package reflecting on the anniversary of 9/11, which the judge called a “great mix of visual elements and compelling copy.”
  • Kaitlyn Davies, JRN 111 student, won second place in Feature Writing for a profile of communications professor Bill Hogan.
  • Valerie Olivares, JRN 111 student, won third place in Feature Writing for her profile of Sylvia Jenkins.
  • Anais Rangel, JRN 111 student, won third place in News Story for a story on food insecurity among students.
  • Colin Kroll, JRN 111 student, won second place in Sports Feature.
  • Jack Zampillo, former opinion editor, won honorable mention for Sports Game Story.