HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Two Hasbrouck Heights High School students have been recognized for their design in the school newspaper's special Coronavirus coverage this past spring.

The "Pilot's Log" ranked seventh place nationally for Design Visuals Recognition for Outstanding Coronavirus Coverage. The National Scholastic Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Society for News Design were sponsors in recognizing outstanding COVID-19 coverage by high school media. 

“I’m always so proud of the things that our staff accomplishes but this award is special," said advisor William Thorne. "These students won a national award, during a pandemic, with their world’s turned upside down. They worked on their own computers, found ways to get the software to work with their devices, and produced an incredible issue all outside of the classroom. I can’t begin to explain the amount of work that takes.”

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The design was created by Emily Condon and illustrations by Sahara Serrano. The visuals accompanied the article "Differing Action, The far-reaching social impact of COVID-19 and why many young people don't seem to care." The article was a collaboration between Grace Tutelo, Editor in Chief, Layla Odeh, Editor, and Serrano.  That edition of the "Pilot's Log" was dedicated to coverage of COVID-19. In addition, it was written, designed and published by the students from their home computers while the school was shutdown.

Linda Simmons, Hasbrouck Heights High School principal, praised the two students and advisor.

"Our Pilot’s Log is an exceptional publication," said Simmons. "Congrats to Advisor, Mr. Thorne, Emily Condon and Sahara Serrano. Your received recognition is well deserved, and I am proud of your accomplishment!"

"Our area was a hot spot for the pandemic in the world....we thought that it was important to share stories as to what was going on in our community, as many people were being directly affected," said Condon. "Additionally, this issue was able to document primary information of how Hasbrouck Heights dealt with the pandemic, which could be used for future generations." 

"Because Pilot’s Log is one of the more competitive news magazines in the country, and we need a minimum of four issues to submit for national awards with the NSPA, we knew that we could not let the complications of the school shutting down hinder us from finishing four issues this year; we just had to work around the situation at hand to publish this issue."

 "For designing, we took the focus of a ‘lack of empathy’," said Condon. "I looked for inspiration online through researching symbols of empathy but there wasn’t much. We decided that we needed to depict a “divide” and “separation” with people, so Sahara drew two people back to back and other shadowy figures to depict different people disobeying social distancing guidelines. I chose condensed and thin fonts to remove focus from the title, but added an underline in the title to still depict the idea of “separation” through the words and the visuals. Then I added the teal bar and hung the words off the sides to give the spread more of a dynamic feel."

"Emily is an amazing writer, so she was very clear on what kind of design she wanted for the article," said Serrano. "We wanted to show how show the dangers of being around others during this pandemic as well as the mix of emotions I'm sure many people felt at this time."

Condon was inspired by the editors she had previously worked with, and thanked a current teacher.

"After this being my third year in Pilot’s Log, I was so thrilled to be awarded with this," she said. "My freshman year, Vanita Patel won an award for top ten Feature Designs in the country from the NSPA. I always aspired to live up to the standards that her, Maddy Kalmowitz, and Bharadwaj Chirravuri, who were editors-in-chief with Vanita, set forward and left to me."

"When I found out that Sahara and I had received this recognition, I finally felt that we had brought the Pilot’s Log back to where they had left it for me. I always looked up to Vanita and had hoped to follow in her footsteps by receiving design recognition from the NSPA."

"I give credit to my teacher Mrs. (Dawn) Massa for teaching me many of the skills which are necessary to properly convey a concept from text into visuals," said Condon. "She always says “Graphic design is visual communication”. Without many of the lessons that she taught me, I do not believe that I would have been able to design a spread that was capable of being honored nationally."

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