By A.J. Collins
Special to the Rappahannock News
Rappahannock County High School, once again, has a champion.
Rappsody, the school’s yearbook, recently won a first-place prize from the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA), marking it as one of the top publications in the nation.
“We’re happy that we got this award,” RCHS art teacher and yearbook adviser Joy Sours said.
The 2009-2010 version of Rappsody was themed “The Climb,” and featured pictures of mountains, hills and the snowstorms of the 2010 winter. Special permission was received from National Geographic to adapt its format and design.
“We focused on overcoming obstacles throughout the years,” Sours stated. “It was about getting to graduation, showing where everyone started in eighth grade and where they are now.”
The theme netted Rappahannock County the top prize, given to 264 schools. RCHS beat out competitors across the country, large and small, public and private, including schools in Denver, Chicago, and Atlanta. The first-place award was also given to Liberty High School in Bealeton and Wakefield Country Day School in Flint Hill.
This was not the Rappsody’s first brush with success. It received the gold award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, a nationally renowned publication-rating group. It received a second-place prize from the National Scholastic Press Association.
“It’s a lot of work [to put together a yearbook],” Sours said. “The students must do all of it, the photos, stories, and interviews.”
The process began before classes start at yearbook camp, when Sours and head editor and recent graduate Natalie Tupper helped select the theme.
From there, students began putting together the ladder, a detail-ridden outline of the various topics covered in the publication. Sours and Tupper set due dates and checkpoints to keep the staff on track.
“My job is to teach students how to write stories and how to put together the yearbook, answer questions, and help out with special needs,” Sours said. “It really is a year-round job, from before the school year begins until early April.”
The editors, meanwhile, take on a leadership role.
“Being an editor is not an easy task,” Tupper noted. “But my job was made easier thanks to Ms. Sours.”
Already, the new yearbook staff is planning the 2011 edition of the Rappsody, and Sours hopes that the tradition of success will continue.
But Tupper, who now attends James Madison University, cannot suppress a smile when she thinks of the prizes that her team had won.
“For me, this award is a reflection of the hard work we all put into this project,” Tupper said. “I was lucky to lead such a wonderful group of people.”