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Olympian staff impresses journalism judges

Castro Valley High School student journalists who publish The Olympian newspaper and website have once again excelled in annual competitions, winning dozens of awards in writing, photography, video and audio. 

Leading the pack were Olympian editors Olive Dooley, Drew Paxman and Zoe Dorado who combined for 19 awards, including three first-place honors from California News Publishers Association. 

Dooley, Olympian editor-in-chief, took first place in sports photography, earned two other CNPA honors in feature and news photography, and won the newspaper’s Hall of Fame and editor of the year awards. A three-year veteran of CVHS journalism, Dooley plans to attend UC Irvine and study chemical engineering next fall. 

“I’m really proud of all of the work that this class has done,” said Dooley.  “I’m really grateful that we have been recognized for our work this year.”

Dorado won first place in the CNPA news photography division with an image she captured of an Indigenous ceremony on Alcatraz. She claimed another honor in enterprise news for an ambitious story about birth control titled “Trojans in search of condoms,” in addition to awards in audio, video from both CNPA and Journalism Education Association of Northern California.

Dorado will attend Pomona College to study English and public policy analysis. 

Paxman created a new podcast called Trojan Horse which won another first-place CNPA honor, and earned other awards in photography, video and audio from CNPA and JEANC. 

Paxman plans to pursue a double major of political science and English at Saint Mary’s College.

Lisa Carmack, a 2009 CVHS graduate and former Olympian reporter, taught journalism at her alma mater this year and helped the staff cover important topics including abortion, LGBTQ rights, artificial intelligence and the pandemic.  Carmack graduated from San Francisco State University with degrees in journalism and psychology and also teaches journalism enrichment classes at Castro Valley schools through a local nonprofit group. 

“As a first-time editor and graduating senior, I am super proud of our class for having the boldness to cover difficult and complicated topics. There were many instances where we had to face the ethical dilemma of whether or not a story should be covered,” said Dorado. “I am thankful to Ms. Carmack for helping us navigate this process. She empowered us as journalists to seek the truth, but to balance that with compassion.”

“I’m genuinely so proud of what this class has been able to accomplish,” Paxman said. “We released eight newspaper issues, organized a writing and art competition, and increased our presence in the world of multimedia. Much of this is due to the dedication and ambition of the editors and staff writers, but also to Ms. Carmack, who encouraged us to think outside the box. She gave us her complete trust and support in all of our respective creative passions, as crazy as some of them were.”

Readers can find the students’ work at 

A complete list of award winners follows: 

Melissa Boussaroque: CNPA, podcast, first place; Olympian best opinion story

Olive Dooley: CNPA, sports action photo, first place; CNPA, feature photo, third place; CNPA, news photo, third place; Olympian Hall of Fame; Olympian editor of the year

Zoe Dorado: CNPA, news photo, first place; CNPA, podcast, first place; 

CNPA, video, second place; JEANC, news video, second place; JEANC, feature video, second place; CNPA, sports action photo, third place; CNPA, enterprise news story, third place; JEANC, audio story, third place; Olympian best news photo

Wyatt Franklin: JEANC, audio story, honorable mention

Renata Gutierrez: Olympian best feature photo; Olympian rookie of the year in photography

Samantha Jew: CNPA, profile story, first place; Olympian best feature story

Frances Lee: Olympian best illustration

Maddie Newman: CNPA, podcast, first place; JEANC, audio story, honorable mention

Luis Ochea: JEANC, feature, honorable mention 

Drew Paxman: CNPA, podcast, first place; JEANC, feature video, second place; JEANC, news video, second place; CNPA, video, second place; CNPA, news photo, third place; JEANC, audio story, third place; JEANC, audio story, honorable mention; Olympian best page design

Gavin Peters: Olympian best sports photo

Erika Sun: Olympian best A&E story; Olympian best sports story; JEANC, audio story, third place

Kaitlyn Tchang: CNPA, column, second place; Olympian reporter of the year; Olympian best news story

Matthew Wong: Olympian best news story; Olympian rookie of the year in reporting

Maya Wong: CNPA, podcast, first place; JEANC, audio story, third place; JEANC, review writing, honorable mention