Linden Public Schools won two awards in the 2020 New Jersey School Communication Awards on Friday, Oct. 16, including a first-place win in the Media Relations – Human Interest category.
The winning story was about the Linden High School TNT News broadcasting students keeping their weekly show on the air even after schools went to virtual learning. Students had to produce and edit videos from home without their regular equipment.
The second award was a third-place win for photography for a photo taken at a ceremony held in February to retire the number of girls basketball legend Tamecka Dixon. The photo showed a smiling Dixon, a former WNBA star, surrounded by excited members of the 2019-2020 girls basketball team in the Linden High School gym.
Both the story and photo were produced by Gary Miller, the district’s communication coordinator.
“Gary Miller has done a phenomenal job capturing and documenting important moments in the district,” said Superintendent Dr. Marnie Hazelton. “It is affirming that Mr. Miller won two New Jersey School Communication Awards. The district is extremely proud of Mr. Miller’s accomplishments.”
The awards were given by the New Jersey School Public Relations Association at a virtual ceremony on Oct. 16. Thirty-seven different school districts entered a total of 75 entries. Entries were judged by 15 professors and communication professionals in nine states.
The TNT News story highlighted student perseverance and resilience and was picked up by multiple news outlets, including The Star-Ledger, NJ.com, News 12 News Jersey, LocalSource, Home News Tribune, and TapInto Linden. Students in the TV/Digital Media class that produces the show, which is co-taught by Miller and Chris Paskewich, were also interviewed for some of the news stories, giving them real-life lessons in news media.
“It meant a lot to me that the winning story was the one about the students in our class,” Miller said. “They worked very hard under difficult circumstances, and I told them they should be proud of the fact that people recognized them for that. I think this award only underscores that fact.”
Miller and Paskewich were also recognized over the summer in a letter from New Jersey Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer for their “guidance and support” in helping the students “celebrate themselves and their classmates” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This the second year in a row that Linden has been recognized with multiple NJ School Communication Awards. At the 2019 awards ceremony, Miller brought home a second place and two third-place awards, more than any other district in the state.