William Byrd’s Black Swan yearbook wins 1st place in national ASPA contest

The William Byrd High School 2019-2020 Black Swan yearbook has won 1st place in the national American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) contest.

“This is the first time the staff has entered this particular contest, but we entered because we wanted the feedback we knew the judges would give us on our book,” said yearbook sponsor Christina Acker. “We usually only get feedback from VHSL competition, which we enter nearly every year. Many people don’t realize that VHSL scores yearbooks, but their competition was cancelled due to the pandemic.”

According to the judge at ASPA, “Your yearbook shows excellence in the fields of writing, photography, and in your page design and contains elements/sections of a memorable yearbook that will be treasured for years to come.”

“In addition to the challenge of completing the book while out of the school building during the pandemic, the staff had to cancel a trip to the Columbia Press Association Conference in New York City,” Acker said. “They were scheduled to leave the week before schools closed in the spring.

Last years’ editors Natalie Mullins and Caroline Faulkner held zoom meetings with Acker to resolve the challenges of replacing Prom with COVID coverage and tackling spring sports when the competitive seasons barely got off the ground.

“Even after school closed for the pandemic, Natalie approached students and parents online and scoured social media to gather the resources we needed to finish the book,” Acker noted. “School technically ended in May, but she didn’t stop working until we submitted the final pages at the end of June. I don’t know how we would have finished it without her.”

“I’m so thankful for a staff of great students who love the book as much as I do,” said Mullins. “We worked countless hours to make each spread perfect, so I’m very grateful that we were recognized with this award.”

Members of the 2019-20 staff Clarissa Blankenship (Alum), Madison Burks (now in 10th grade), Gracie Clifton (10), Bryson Crawford (11), Emma Dalton (11), Grace Davis (12), Catie Dullaghan (12), Gracie Fairbanks (12), Bayla Kessler (12), Tessa Nash (11), Faith Powell (10), Hailey Rogers (12), Briahna Stacey (Alum), Christine Widener (12), Kassidy Wrye (11), Editor Caroline Faulkner (Alum), and Editor Natalie Mullins (12).

Natalie Mullins is currently Editor in Chief for the Black Swan 2020-2021 yearbook; Bayla Kessler is the Design Editor.

Members of the William Byrd High School Black Swan yearbook staff with their 1st place award from the national American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA). Shown left to right are Catherine Dullaghan, current Editor in Chief senior Natalie Mullins, Design Editor Bayla Kessler, and Kassidy Wrye.


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