Sandpoint students take top journalism awards

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(Courtesy photo) Sandpoint High School seniors Lauren Sfeir, left, and Amanda Wikoff, right, are two of the top student journalists in Idaho. Wikoff, editor in chief at the Cedar Post, took first as state journalist of the year through the Idaho Student Journalism Association, and Sfeir, photo editor at the Cedar Post, came in second.

SANDPOINT — Two of the top student journalists in the state this year come from Sandpoint High School and its student-run newspaper, the Cedar Post.

SHS senior Amanda Wikoff, editor in chief at the Cedar Post, took first as state journalist of the year through the Idaho Student Journalism Association. SHS senior Lauren Sfeir, photo editor at the Cedar Post, came in second.

"I was so excited," Wikoff said.

Sfeir also said she was really excited when she learned she placed second, and immediately contacted Wikoff to see if she had placed first. Wikoff said she checked her email and, a few minutes later, there it was.

"We had a mini phone celebration through text messages," Sfeir said in an email to the Daily Bee. "It was great."

Sfeir said although she had hoped to take first place, she feels honored to be recognized for her work and "loves" that she and Wikoff both represented Sandpoint at the state level.

As the state journalist of the year, Wikoff will head to Seattle to participate in the national finals this weekend for a chance to receive a $3,000 scholarship. Up to six runner-ups will receive $850 each as well.

To enter the contest, student journalists are required to submit a portfolio of their work in student media, and Wikoff said she included some of the stuff she has done through her job as well — she manages the outlet website for Wildwood Grilling. Sfeir's portfolio was focused around photojournalism, but she also added some of her writing, editing, team building and more.

In her sophomore year, Wikoff took journalism I and journalism II classes at SHS and started at the Cedar Post her junior year.

"I love it, it's so much fun," Wikoff said. "I've always really liked writing and since joining Cedar Post I've gotten a lot more interested in the graphic design aspect as well. So both of those things are just really fun for me, and communicating concisely and efficiently what needs to be communicated is fun for me."

Sfeir said she has always enjoyed being involved in the community and with the school, though her love for journalism did not really begin until the end of last year. This is her second year in the Cedar Post and yearbook, and she is the photo editor in both classes.

"I love visual journalism, which includes anything from photography to videos and graphics," Sfeir said. "While I am still learning how to make graphics, I really like to create videos and photo essays that tell the stories of all those around us. Ultimately, journalism lets me be involved in many school events from sports to plays."

Sfeir said she hopes to attend Whitworth University in Spokane and major in journalism. She also plans to double minor in visual communication and science, likely biology, because she would to eventually work for a science magazine.

Wikoff is heading to Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa in the fall to double major in graphic design and intercultural ministry. After college, she said, she would like to go overseas and do mission work, and since graphic design is what she called a "mobile skill," it is something she can take with her overseas as well.

Since William Love has been the Cedar Post advisor, three of his advisees have been named state journalist of the year, including Wikoff for 2017, Sarah Wells in 2016 and Tyson Bird in 2014.

"It is pretty cool for Amanda and Lauren to finish 1-2 in this contest," Love said in an email to the Daily Bee. "Both have worked hard the last two years in continuing the long tradition of quality student-run journalism at Sandpoint High. As a result, Amanda and Lauren have developed impressive portfolios that I believe will serve them well wherever life takes them after SHS."

Mary Malone can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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